From writing poetry and short stories when he was growing up, to studying music and media at university – Nicholas Toyne has always enjoyed expressing himself creatively. Now he has found his niche in sculpture and glass art.
Nicholas enrolled in UCOL Whanganui’s
NZ Diploma in Arts and Design, focusing on Glass Arts, after being fascinated by the work on display at New Zealand Glassworks. UCOL has a long-term relationship with New Zealand Glassworks, which gives UCOL students the opportunity to learn and create glass art in the business’ hot shop.
“Making glass art is something that can definitely be intimidating,” says Nicholas.
“It’s not easy to start with. It’s something that takes a lot of time, a lot of confidence, and a lot of concentration because it’s extremely technical. There is a lot of chemistry and physics that is quite particular to the medium.”
After completing the year-long programme, Nicholas wanted to take his art further and transitioned into UCOL’s
Bachelor of Design and Arts, majoring in Visual Arts. This not only allowed Nicholas to expand his glass art skills, but also become more proficient at sculpting and drawing.
Local scholarship donors have played a significant role in Nicholas’ academic and artistic success. In 2018 he was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the George Bolton Trust, and then $2,000 from the Akoranga Education Trust in 2020.
“I used the George Bolton Trust Scholarship to buy casting glass - which is very expensive - for my end of year assignment. After exhibiting that project, I received my first commissions, so that scholarship was a catalyst for me to start selling my art.”
“I wasn’t working in 2020, so the Akoranga Education Trust scholarship allowed me to focus on making art and buy material for my graduate show, which I made a number of sales from. Without either of those scholarships I really don’t know where I would have been.”
Nicholas’ final year of his degree included an internship at New Zealand Glassworks. He says it was an amazing experience not only because he had more time in the hot shop, but because he also had the opportunity to mentor first year students.
“I’d never thought I’d have the confidence to be a teacher, but working with the newer students made me think it’s something I would love to do. I’d love to teach art at UCOL one day.”
With his degree under his belt, Nicholas is currently working on his
Master of Design at UCOL, specializing in figurative sculpture.
“My focus is the body, life, death, and mortality, and just being a human basically. I’ve got plans to interview people about their experiences and then build a body of work on my findings and my perspective on the body.”
As well as continuing his studies, Nicholas is keeping busy at Orphic Gallery, which he assisted his two close friends, Bede McMenamin and Keiran Donnelly, in opening around the corner from UCOL in February 2021.
“It’s exciting because if I’m working on a series of art, I now feel like it always has a home.”