Under the Spotlight…. Nora Young

‘I want to create pieces that are ‘there and not there’, that change as we pass by and are unresolved in essence.’

Nora Young web

This time, for under the spotlight, we have been privileged to meet Nora Young, a local artist who eludes definition. She works in whatever medium she feels is right to communicate her ideas, and the resulting pieces, whether on screen, canvas or an old envelope, have an intense, haunting quality.


Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?

I was very supported at school by an enthusiastic and modern art teacher …. She encouraged my expressive work and allowed me to be experimental. She did not allow ‘the curriculum’ to interfere with my ideas.

What would your school report have said about your art?

Very little because there was no comment invited!

Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught ?

I studied at Loughborough College and gained an art degree and B Ed. This was in the 60s but I did not pursue art for many years until the late 90s when I reconnected with my work through the innovative teaching of the tutors on the OCN Courses at Northbrook College. Here I was given a love of life work – I have since taken a life class weekly. It’s like ‘doing my scales’ – essential for maintaining the essence of line.

I think the tutors of this course allowed me to become a multi-faceted artist – to work in whatever way and media was right for what I wanted to express. This diversity is important to me.

Re ‘self-taught’ reflections:

We all teach ourselves by sifting what we are taught, outside influences and ideas until we build our own core ‘artist self’.

I do believe that there is a creative eye that we all can find. Mine began with having poor eyesight and not having glasses until I was seven. I could only see things at close range clearly… I inhabited a macro world. At the moment I got my glasses I discovered all the rest! I have never stopped looking. I know I am very observant as a result. I trust this instinct. It works for me.

What or who has inspired you over the years?

Air, light and natural forces. I connect with the sea edge and shore – the hinterland between the underwater and land which we inhabit.

I have been working on Worthing Beach all last year, drawing in the sand. This work continues and I invite any-one interested to contact me and join me on the sands.

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I am now developing marks in the studio using mixed media. I want to create pieces that are ‘there and not there’, that change as we pass by and are unresolved in essence.

What Artists do you admire?

Pablo Picasso. Lucian Freud. David Hockney. The recent life drawings of Tracey Emin. Oh, and her Bed. Not forgetting her videos.

What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)

‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso. And all the accompanying preparation work.

A lasting inspiration.

What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved?

I don’t tend to reflect back in this way. I tend to inhabit the moment – the now of anything I am doing. I have recently down sized my home and life and have found this to be very liberating. I am gradually letting go (to good homes!) my back store of art works. People have just given me a donation for work they would like. Now I hear about the pleasure this has given people … I hope to keep working towards in this way. Make me an offer! It won’t be refused ….

What have you sacrificed for your art?

It’s the reverse really. I found it hard to combine parenting with my art work so that meant there was a huge time gap between my initial work and the last 15 years when I have worked pretty solidly.

I prefer to look at this as more about choices and consequences … and to acknowledge the compromises which always come into human relationships.

Art is an essential part of life for me as a human being. I don’t always have to be working physically to be engaged. There is creativity in pauses – in the passive – in reflection – that leads to active exciting times.

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What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?

Leave only what is essential in a work – only that which is needed to achieve the thought/idea – only what is the essence.

Trust your guts. Be honest. Own what works and what does not.

This quote from John Cage I find particularly true:

“When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.”

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What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?

It’s only a piece of paper …..

How do you start a piece of work?

With immediacy, with my guts, without too much thought.

But after a lot of looking.

When is it finished?

It is finished when it stops telling me what to do. And when it works when I am not there.


Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?

It ‘aint over till the fat lady sings.

Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?

I use music to block out cognition – to avoid over-thinking.

I have a very varied collection and it depends on what I am working on – the mood of the piece.

Recently I returned to playing John Coltrane’s album ‘Blue Train’.  Also Max Richter’s ‘The Blue Notebooks’. Then there’s Bach and Mozart.

What is your favourite medium to work with/in?

AAAH! This varies so much.

Again I respond in whatever medium feels right for the idea.

Mediums this year include printing, ceramics, video, photography and drawing. Then there is painting!


Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever?

Charcoal and chalk

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Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?

I find reality is dream enough. Being real is essential to each piece of art. I guess I strive for that reality and it is often illusive.

Is there anything you avoid with your art?

Overworking an image …. But it still happens!


Thank you so much Nora, it has been a real pleasure to be given an insight into your working process and your life as an artist.

You can see more of Nora’s work at www.norayoung.com

Nora is also part of this years Worthing Art Trail at Worthing art Studios and 7 Harrow Road alongside Jane Keeley…




About worthingart

Worthing Art is the invention of three artists/craftspeople living in Worthing, on the sunny south coast of England. Our aim is to create a central point of information about the visual arts in our local area. There is such a lot going on and so many creative people around here and we want to help spread the word through our Facebook page and this blog. We will also share national events and info if it's relevant. We are entirely non profit....we're in it fot the joy! We are: Lorraine Heaysman: Photographer. Marie Vickers: Mixed Media Artist/Printmaker and Textile Artist. Naomi Frances: Illustrator, Maker of Stained Glass, Mixed Media Artist.
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