After changing tack, she became a successful player in getting other artists’ work out there. Granted, there were still some of the same challenges: “As a female gallery owner, I have felt the struggles. There’s so many more male art dealers out there – gallery owners, auction house people. They like to mansplain, and it’s frustrating.” Nizzola now has her own gallery, Extraordinary Objects, and has carved out an identity as a curator who brings together contemporary art with antiquities and beautiful items from the natural world.
Curation is undoubtedly a creative process, but there was still a niggling artistic gap. Then, at the start of this year, Nizzola was messing around at the kitchen table in the home she shares with her husband, Mike Snelle (who also happens to be one half of highly collectable art duo The Connor Brothers). “My husband and I were just pissing ourselves laughing,” she says. “And he said, you should put this out there.”
Alma Singer was born.
“I’ve always struggled a little bit with self-confidence, as Carla,” says Nizzola. “Alma Singer is so different. I like to call her my alter ego. It’s like a rebirth, really. She gives me the confidence to talk about things that I might be shy to talk about as Carla.
“Alma is a part of me that doesn’t give a shit what people think.”
As Alma Singer, Nizzola was freed from external expectation, from her worries about whether she’d be “taken seriously”. An explosion of creativity followed, initially finding a home on Instagram, where the combination of humour and bold statements immediately drew in an audience of collectors. Within the first month, Alma had been invited to exhibit at the London Art Fair. Her work has since been included at prestigious auction houses alongside that of Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin.
Inspiration for Alma Singer’s world comes from David Shrigley, London-based mural artist Lakwena Maciver and Grayson Perry.
“His works are so intricate but I think he’s kind of similar in the way that his maps and his prints and pottery talk about the social, political issues but in a tongue-in-cheek way, in a very British way,” Nizzola explains of Perry.
“Alma Singer flies that British humour, tongue-in-cheek flag.”
Named after Nizzola’s art teacher’s assessment of her creative skills, A for Effort has gleeful fun mocking the arts world – including wry takes on Hirst’s spot paintings and Koons’s Balloon Dog – but it also tackles more serious topics, still in a playfully naive style.
“I think the beauty of Alma Singer’s work, is that because it’s so quick, it can be very topical,” says Nizzola. “It can challenge what’s going on politically, socially, environmentally. It can very quickly open discussions. Through art, you can challenge what’s going on in the world.”
With a dose of that Alma Singer confidence, Nizzola is hosting her alter-ego’s solo show at Extraordinary Objects, “because, why not?” she laughs. “It has been a real journey for me this year, it’s almost like I’ve felt a bit more Alma. Which has been really positive for my mental health.”
Now that she’s found a way to escape her own self-doubt, Nizzola hopes to encourage more women to access the mental-health boost of being creative. “I feel like, as a woman in my 30s, I do want to inspire other women,” she says. “If you’re enjoying something, and you feel it’s right, and it makes you happy, then give it a go. Who gives a fuck what people think?”
A For Effort, the first solo show from Alma Singer, opens at Extraordinary Objects on
10 June. extraordinaryobjects.co.uk
Everything Is Going To Be OK prints will be available to buy online from Jealous Gallery – with proceeds going to The Big Issue – on 13 June. jealousgallery.com
This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income
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