It’s January 1st and as we now hurtle into the unknown of 2024 I find myself reflecting on the sheer madness of 2023 – What a year you were!
It’s only right that I get the opportunity to summarise what can only be described as my busiest year of reaching goals to date!
It’s going to be a quiet year
I must admit I began 2023 thinking it wouldn’t be a special one at all.
I wasn’t too well this time last year suffering migraines and mild depression – perhaps from my mother passing the previous summer – I thought 2023 would be my year to reflect upon life. How wrong I was.
As I look back really since March 2023 opportunities kept presenting themselves.
I built a house in 2023
My first goal of this year came because I was booked to perform on The Cinderella Cruise Ship between Sweden and Finland.
This would be at the end of October so I had a full eight months to not only translate my script but to get myself ready to perform as FizzWizzPop in Swedish.
This was perhaps the hardest thing I have done to date. Learning a language is difficult – even more so if you must perform in it. To know what your saying as you are doing it. Moving and talking in a different language isn’t easy.
So to make it fun as I was doing literally ‘the hard part’ I decided to design a brand new set for myself so I built a house.
I came up with this idea after seeing a friend of mine Nalle Clown’s backdrop. I asked his wife the designer of his set how she managed to build their’s and she helped me by sharing their design.
However, me being me I wanted to be different so I built a house for FizzWizzPop instead.
A lop sided house I might add which added greatly to my heartache in trying to keep it upright. But in the end I managed to do it.
I knew that I needed to perform the show before the cruise ship event. Otherwise it might be a complete disaster. So I decided to book a room at Subtopia.
I became a member of Katapult in 2022 – an incubator for artists wanting to further their career’s in the industry in Stockholm.
Through Katapult and Subtopia I was supported to perform my show with them in August 2023 which was not only a success because people came to see me but more importantly they all understood everything I said!
Genii Magazine April 2023
During the pandemic I wrote several books. Each of which explored my work up until that point both as my kids character FizzWizzPop and adult character Nikola Arkane. I got a mad notion to send my books into Genii Magazine to be reviewed. Upon doing this, it’s current editor, Dustin Stinett wondered if I might like to be in the magazine as a featured artist. To which I said – Hell yes!
So my story got out to a wilder audience in 2023 thanks to me being brave and sending my books to be reviewed. If you want to check out my books click here for my first book, Becoming FizzWizzPop. Here for my second Pop! And for anything else from my shop click here!
If you wish to read my article (April 2023) and also support one of the coolest things we have going in this magic industry subscribe to Genii Magazine by clicking here.
Festival of Fools 2023
This year I was asked to perform at one of the biggest traditions known to all artists in my home town Belfast – The Festival of Fools!
The Festival of Fools brings artists literally from all over the world and takes over Belfast City Centre for an entire weekend in April/May. To be asked to be a part of this was an absolute honour and as FizzWizzPop I got to reconnect with children (who are now adults) I performed for years ago.
Applied for funding to compete in F.I.S.M Europe April 2023
This April I applied for a huge funding pot from the Belfast City Council as an individual artist to be funded for a year to push myself further as an artist. Do something that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do without the funding. I submitted (in all honestly) probably the best thing I’ve ever written about my career so far and where I wish to go in magic representing Belfast and Magic.
I believe in doing things right and in order to be successful at this huge level, one needs to think of it as the olympics. One must throw everything into it. And that requires funding. Not to mention it costs one individual around 1,500 -2,000 to get there. I wanted to apply for funds to support the creative process, help with building props, hiring experts to come on board.
Sadly due to the huge amount of people applying for this fund my application was declined in June 2023. I also believe that Art’s Funding Organisations do not credit magic as an art form on a similar platform to music, dance or drama and therefore it was probably a no brainer for them. I hope one day to change their minds.
But the day I awoke to disappointment, I also awoke to some good news I was not expecting at all…
Allan Slaight International Rising Star June 2023
In June 2023 I was elected the Allan Slaight International Rising Star 2023. You can read more about it in my previous blog post by clicking here.
Or if you do not wish to read, you can also watch this video from my YouTube channel which Magicana made to celebrate the occasion.
Sold out show at The Junction in Antrim
It’s been a year for FizzWizzPop getting to perform on bigger stages. Not only performing for the city of Belfast in the Festival of Fools to crowds of hundreds of people, FizzWizzPop managed to be booked and sell out a show at The Junction Shopping Centre Complex in Antrim.
She played their outdoor theatre space and got some stunning images of her performance too. Meeting families old and new, it’s been a good year connecting with audiences on a bigger level in this character.
Conjuring Course ‘C’ Sigtuna August 2023
For the last five years I have been attending courses in Sigtuna Sweden. I have written many blogs about the work that is done here and the joy I get in attending them. This year I attended the final course in the programme – Conjuring C. For a full week I was immersed in magic with around 50 other magicians taking classes, performing and exploring the art.
I even came up with a brand new magic act which I’d been developing gingerly over the last few months.
Secret Project that is still a secret
Upon finishing Sigtuna I was wisked away on a madcap secret mission – the secret of which cannot be revealed yet. But soon my friends!
The Showman is Coming Rehearsals and Tour August to October 2023
In June 2023 I was Approached by Peter Corry, a famous singer from Northern Ireland about coming onboard his brand new touring show, “The Showman is Coming.”
I performed shows in Northern Ireland and went on tour for a full month with the cast across The Netherlands.
This was such a wonderful experience for me as an artist.
So much so that I intend to write a full blog just about this experience. Watch this space!
The Swedish Magic Championships September 2023
This was the month I decided to compete in not one, not two but three competitions across two days!
I don’t recommend it to anyone and I would never do it again ever but if you wish to watch my summary of it click here to get a link to a blog video I made summing up this entire experience.
It was worth it as I ended up being crowned the Grand Prix winner and Swedish Champion in Stage Magic and took two other prizes that weekend also. So hard work definitely pays off.
Nordic Magic Championships
After competing in the Swedish Magic Championships I was next in Norway performing as an Artist at the Nordic Magic Championships.
There I got to perform in the Gala show alongside some very talented performers and I got to lecture as FizzWizzPop. I even got a standing ovation from the magicians after my lecture.
Getting to hang with friends and people I love is just part of the fun when performing at events like these!
Cruising as FizzWizzPop
I made it to my goal and performed a week long contract on The Viking Line Cinderella performing two different shows every day in complete Swedish. And performed one hour walk around in character for the families also.
I posted a video recap of this achievment which you can watch here.
Davido’s Jubilee Celebration November 2023
In 2022 I got a request from a good friend, Davido to perform at his Jubilee celebration. I accepted as I absolutely Love performing at his Magic Club in Oslo.
This was a pretty special event as Davido has been performing now for 50 years in magic. And the place he chose to celebrate that in was his hometown Ski, Norway.
A beautiful setting for an enchanting night of magic.
One thing that I was quite proud of which was a choice of Davido’s, all the performers on stage with him were women. The burlesque dancers, the magicians, the musician and even a dance troupe of around 20 kids, all of us were female.
For me, it felt so empowering and a beautiful gesture that he chose to share this very important event and showcase women on stage in the way that he did.
Of course there were his trusty team of close up performers entertaining the audience before they came into the theatre for the show. Here is a video which hopefully you can watch and get a sneak peak at this wonderful event.
One final lecture and competition
Of course it’s me so the year never truly ends when you reach December. There’s always one more trip you can squeeze in. This time it was visiting Stockholm for the Johnny Lonn Memorial celebration who asked me to lecture for them.
In true Nikola style, I had to fly in on the day of the lecture meaning I had to fly in costume as FizzWizzPop which was both ridiculous and magical at the same time. People around me had no clue what or who I was!
My final lecture of 2023 was well received. I think I am finally getting the hang of this leacturing. It no longer feels strange as it did in 2022. I enjoy it.
To end the evening I competed in the Johnny Lonn memorial competition and came third alongside some truly talented performers and friends.
Odd socks the Elf December 2023
Finally (I hope as there are still a few hours to go as I write this) the year ended with a fully booked schedule performing back home in Northern Ireland as FizzWizzPop or rather as Odd socks the Elf – my Christmas character who looks a bit like this here…
After the crazy year I have had I still tried to work and squeeze as much as I could into December so that I could pay for a couple of things I really want to do in 2024. And I am pleased to say that I managed to reach those goals. I just have to make it to my next goals now.
Reflection and appreciation
Looking back at 2023 I did a lot. Probably a bit more than I should’ve. I’m tired. But I am also quite proud of all I managed to squeeze into a year that I never thought would be special in any way.
I’m using the next few hours to rest and reflect before 2024 kicks into full swing.
I want to thank a few people.
Firstly, thank you to my amazing family without your support I would not be able to literally throw everything in the air, leave and perform all over the world. You know how important my dreams are and you allow me to follow those for which I am truly grateful for.
For your support, words of wisdom and continuous love – Thank you and to quote my dear Matthew, “Merry Christmas!”
To friends old and new.
This year I got pushed way out of my comfort zone in so many areas and met a hell of a lot of new people. Some of which are like family and I am truly grateful for the opportunities I took. Literally leaping to a theme park with a friend for a day (you know who you are) and other days learning to be in the company of people I would never normally meet (like the fabulous cast of The Showman). I got to hang with friends hundred’s of thousands of miles away from home on a cruise ship (one word, MARGARITAS), in a casino and I even got to go on a fishing trip to catch some lobster.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of my journey!
To Tom, thank you for being with me on my journey the last year not just as my boyfriend but as a teacher, mentor and friend. I know that I am not easy to work with, but I am learning and growing every day. All the scary things I navigated this last year, you were there behind me reminding me to laugh in the face of disaster, to eat (even when focusing on magic felt a greater need at the time), and telling me that I am Nikola Arkane and I can do anything I set my mind to.
I am becoming the performer and magician I’ve always dreamed of being and part of the reason is you believing in me which I am forever grateful for.
Which leads me my final thank you…
Finally, the last thank you must go to the one person who made it all happen… Me!
I allowed myself to reach for the stars, follow my dreams and do the things I’ve always wanted to do – which is the real magic of life.
I will continue to carry these memories through 2024 and keep making my dreams come true.
Let’s make this year a great one – Happy New Year to you all!