Cristina NualART

Tag: found art

Hidden jewels found in a rubbish tip

Finding things thrills me. Where possible, I keep a lot of my finds, such as flotsam and jetsam, because I see creative potential in them. And I feel a sense of duty to veer these objects onto a different purpose other than accumulating on beaches. Today I took my collection of found objects into a different creative direction. Instead of working on paintings or sculptures, I used flotsam from a Vietnamese beach to make this necklace. The jewel is a rubber cluster with delicate, vein-like patterns made by fishermen’s fires, sand erosion and sea salt and waves.


Drifwood dragons

I’m working on some driftwood pieces, drawn and painted on abandoned objects reclaimed by Vietnamese beaches (and subsequently by the artist). These little dragon fruits are nearly finished. After the long weekend, they’ll be ready to welcome the new bits of flotsam and jetsam that I may find on my upcoming trip to the beach.
driftwood dragons

 Review Android Smartphone

Curated Artwork – an individual collaboration

Uniting my fascination with found materials, found art and multi-layering, I’m trying a new experiment. The ‘curated drawing’ shown here includes purchased drawings from an Indonesian artist, copies of copied artworks, pages from old Vietnamese books and a screenprint of my own work. I don’t think it’s finished yet, but it’s on the wall so I can think about it for a bit before I develop it further. A lot of what I’m making at the moment involves painting images on ‘found’ objects. The process now goes two-dimensional, which seems paradoxical since the 3D ‘collages’ are much more innovative. The creative process sometimes has to go back to rediscover old ideas.Curated drawing by Cristina Nualart 2012

Six degrees of connection

A short-lived private exhibition in Saigon opened and closed in little more than 24 hours.  A group of artists living in HCMC, including Bao Nguyen, Bertrand Peret, Nadege David, Olivier Llouquet, Sandrine Llouquet, Thierry Bernard-Gotteland and myself, set up videos, installations, drawings, lightboxes and other art, with no underlying prescription. The happy mixture of ideas was reinforced by a lovely soiree of gourmet food, and music by the bouncingly cheerful DJ Samurai, who told me that his music ‘makes the future better’. Setting up his turntables, the Japanese music-addict perched his rain-wet gear on the tactile artworks I’d placed on a tall shelf. I politely explained this to him as I moved his things off the art object and he burst in giggles. I had to smile, and maybe for an instant wonder at the futility of preserving art objects from life’s events…

These are the artworks I set up:

 ‘Six degrees of Separation (between cultures)’,
Acrylic and pencil drawing, gold leaf and textile collage on Vietnamese driftwood.

Detail of ‘Six degrees of Separation’.

‘Heivyweight Table’,
acrylic and pencil drawing on Vietnamese flotsam.
This was exhibited alongside the matching bench.

installation with batik, cage and photocopy of Vietnamese identity card.

natural lacquer and eggshell on board. See how I made it here.


KCBT and KCAT wall painters and plasterers


Anybody who has been to Vietnam has seen the KCBT or KCAT phone numbers painted on walls around the city. It took me a while when I first moved here to understand what they were, because no other country I have been to advertises in such an anonymous way.


Recently a Hanoi art exhibition by Lolo Zazar showcased paintings that are directly inspired by these hybrids between graffiti and advertising. I used some photos of the ones I have  seen in and around Saigon for an interior design project. Two hand painted luminous pink and purple phone numbers, exact copies of the ones in town, are on my walls. One final large copy of the original shown above will be finished in gold leaf.


Three weekend trilogy – art from the beach

Maintaining an art practice alongside a regular job is all the harder if you live in an exciting place -in my case Vietnam – that you just want to go and spend time discovering and exploring. Paradoxically, new experiences are a well-known stimulant of creativity. I was a little surprised with myself when 3 weekends turned into an unexpected mini art project.

I have never been very interested in painting still lives, but one idea leads to another, and I came to making some. This is why: I went to Ke Ga beach one weekend, packing the sketchbook that accumulates drawings of found stones, towels and other stuff that looks gorgeous when you are on holiday. I didn’t use it much.

FloatingBenchwThe wild landscape of eroded rocks propelled me to take hundreds of photos, and long walks. Across miles of sand, seashells and driftwood squatted between the rocks. Few artists can resist the tactile urge of holding these objects. Some were too beautiful to give back to the sea, and they came with me back to the big city. The light weight of these objects is surprising. Weekend one in this trilogy was devoted to research and to collect materials.

Looking out at my neighbour’s terrace after holding my little treasures, I saw these concrete tables and benches, of a type that I have only come across in Asia. They are not labour-intensive to produce, and they are so adapted to the climate the design is unbeatable: they never blow away or get damaged in tropical storms, they don’t harbour bacteria and they dry quickly after monsoon rains. I find their functionality and stumpy shapes very attractive. And so the next weekend, both ideas collided and I was compelled to paint a chair too heavy to move by myself on a lightweight piece of wood.

I started off with some pencil sketches, which were nice but too clean and flat. On a whim I tore them up and stuck them on card and layered them with acrylic paint. The spatula and the rough surface were good practice for painting on three-dimensional objects. The finished collage, ‘Floating Bench’, has the quietness of an empty beach, but it is both an exploration of forms in space and of tactile qualities. In any case, it is a by-product of the preparatory work of the actual painted objects.

3wkndTrilogy_BenchwI was fascinated by the perfect smoothness of this piece of balsa wood, lighter than chocolate mousse, a haptic surprise. It arrived in Saigon with other found bits that went into my carrier bag too. The second weekend in the trilogy, the wooden junk had become a portable art object, tattooed with a pencil drawing that hid under layers of paint and graphite. the restfulness of the bench is an inherent quality of the natural object. Erosion and human manipulation have intervened to show the beauty of gentle sloping lines.


A hardened sponge that must have been the bumper of a fishing boat was fragile and crumbly, but so light to the touch and nicely oval that it begged a career change. The podgy concrete table, companion to the bench, was painted onto the fragile sponge, which I coated in transparent primer to give it a bit of strength after a hard life as a tidal plaything. the finished object is still quite delicate, in contrast to the image it now transports.

One further block of wood, a heavy, triangular-sectioned stake will become the third piece in the 3D trilogy. The wooden lump lacks all of the airiness, portability and lightness of this other type of chair commonly found in Vietnam:


P.S. Post updated: in December 2011, these sketches were sold in the Arts For Mobility charity auction.

Unless otherwise specified, text and images © 2017 Cristina Nualart

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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