Q + A: Garry Nichols

THE EXPANSIVE WORKS OF GARRY NICHOLS TAKE US ON A MEANDERING JOURNEY THROUGH REMEMBERED LANDSCAPES WHERE NATURE IS UNRULY AND HISTORY IS FERVENT.

What is your work about?

My paintings created over the last 20 years form a narrative within a unique environment. The imagery of the Ross Bridge, a Colonial Celtic-inspired monument in Tasmania, is both vegetal and mythical and all over my work. This specific bridge repeats and transforms in scale and context as I paint it into my narrative. My paintings are often structured with pathways, like children’s mazes. These paths lead the viewer into the painting to meander amongst my remembered landscape, populated with plant forms and ships, while loaded with an array of symbols and ancient heads; all shapes derived from the Ross Bridge.

What can we take from your work?

I want my paintings to tackle the mystery of nature, its wildness and its underlying structure, to envelop and transport the viewers on a spectacular journey – one that evokes a multiplicity of readings. While living in New York, I have evolved my paintings into landscapes of symbols collected from observations of nature and from specific memories of my Tasmanian childhood. It is ironic that I left Tasmania, came to New York – a city full of art, imagery and inspiration – only to find my richest source once again in the place of my childhood.

Take us into your studio…

As long as I have been a professional artist, I’ve always preferred to work at my studio late into the night. My creativity peaks around 8 or 9pm when the studio is still, quiet and there are few distractions. When I’m drawing outside in nature during the warmer months of New York, or in Australia, it’s a whole different creative proposition. The bright daylight, a tiny succulent plant in a cactus garden, or a colourful rock can stimulate my creative juices and inspire me to commit to making my first marks on my paper pad, then complete a sustained drawing.

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