In 1960, as a young woman in her 20s, Nicola Wood boarded the Queen Mary and set to breeze through the sea-salty transatlantic air to America.
It was a new, foreign, and exciting adventure for young Nicola to navigate, but with a trailblazing spirit and the excitement of embarking on a new experience, she was set on-course to become a highly-acclaimed artist and designer.
Nicola Wood’s journey started in a quiet rural area outside of Liverpool, England. From this inauspicious beginning, Nicola would achieve some truly outstanding accolades and credentials. However, her potential may not have been fully realized had she not become a close pupil of one of her primary school teachers,
Mr. Asbridge. He immediately saw Nicola’s artistic talent and the potential in her drawings. Unbeknownst to Nicola, when she turned 15 he had set up an interview for her at Southport School of Art.
Nicola was accepted, but found it was an extremely male dominated
institution. She was placed in the Fashion Department but still wanted to paint and use color, so she transferred to Textile Design. After Graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to Manchester Regional College of Art to complete her National Diploma in Design. Embracing the opportunity to its fullest, she
graduated with first class honors, then in an even higher honor she was accepted into the Royal College of Art in London.
Despite her talent and ambition, Nicola faced a torrent of discrimination as a woman. She recalls some of the acclaimed educators that had openly expressed their disapproval of women striving for further education. “On one hand there was one male teacher [Mr. Asbridge] who saw hope and believed in me, but then on the other hand there was a respected University educator who told me to my face that ‘it was pointless to educate women because they just run off and get married’”. Nicola has often felt conflicted and insulted that many men held such beliefs, but this derision also fueled her desire to pave a pathway for women in
education, and especially for representation by women in the field of art.
Nicola’s unparalleled success in academics led her to career endeavors in France and across Europe. After three years post graduate studies in Textile Design in London, graduating once again with with first Class Honors she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Study at Parsons School of Design, New York.
After several days and nights aboard, the Queen Mary finally approached the NYC harbor and Nicola gazed at the Statute of Liberty with overwhelming excitement. The fact that Liberty is a she was a fitting symbol of Nicola’s American dream.
Nicola studied Graphic Design under the renowned Emil Antonucci in New York. He guided her to book publishers, and one of her earliest book jacket designs was Tennessee Williams “The Night of the Iguana “ as well as full page Illustrations for CBS TV in the New York Times. Since her job did not tie her down to one location, Nicola freely moved and soon settled in California.
One day while working in her Los Angeles studio apartment, she felt a rumble in the air. Quickly glancing out of the window, she saw a black 1959 Cadillac with a license plate that said “VADAR”. It was striking and unlike anything she had ever seen, but more importantly, it inspired her. It was this automotive apparition that
reminded Nicola painting was still her heart’s true desire. The black luster and chrome absolutely fascinated her artistically. Nicola decided to switch gears and invested in a large canvas to paint the Cadillac that was etched into her mind.
Her dream of painting was manifesting into reality, and she began painting Cadillacs and other Classic automobiles adorned with feminine iconology such as lipstick, flowers, drapes and compact-mirrors tastefully showcased each work of art.
Soon, her unique style of automotive paintings caught the attention of the Automotive Fine Arts Society. Her paintings were featured a the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, sponsored by Cadillac in 2001, which earned her a one-woman show called “Fantasy and Fins”. In front of each painting was the actual matching car which inspired it. Nicola’s paintings were also exhibited far and wide by many other respectable organizations and publications.
Nicola Wood drove the lonely road and tough terrain dominated by men all her life, but she embraced her struggles as an innovative woman in hopes of creating a pathway and to inspire other women around the world through art. Her life’s work never rolls to a stop, and she was recently presented with the Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who!
To see the stunning work of Nichola Wood, visit her online gallery at www.nicolawood.com. Her gift merges feminine and masculine forms to create inspiring imagery and provocative scenes of automotive brilliance that she is happy to share with her Sun City Shadow Hills community.