Gray Nicol works in video, sculpture and performance.
He attended Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland from 1973 to 1977. During this period he made a number of wry and humorous videos marked by the use of his own body and a self-reflexive play with the formats and conventions of his medium. He also undertook a number of performance events which were documented on video including Duck Calling (1978) and Construction of a Cube (1977).
Following art school he embraced the traditional disciplines of decorative and architectural sculpture, working as a carver on Auckland’s Orakei Marae (Tumutumuwhenua) over a period of 8 years. In the late 1980s Nicol moved to Britain where he worked as a wood carver and sculptor on the restoration of18th Century interiors, in classical and roccoco styles. Traditional work, he says, “provided a purpose and context, and the opportunity to develop skills. There is a lot to admire in the confidence and authority of art traditions.”
In 2009 he returned to public exhibition with a series of videos which employed various camera lens and post-production techniques to subtly animate sculptural subjects. Says Nicol; “The play between video and sculpture creates uncertainty as what is being depicted, prop or subject, where the message is coming from, or even the veracity of the stories.”
He is currently based in Melbourne.
Essay by Mark Amery (2019)
Renewal, Aperture Asia & Pacific Film Festival, London, UK (2019) / Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin (2019)
Groundswell: Avant-Garde Auckland 1971-79, Auckland City Art Gallery
Remember Snow, New Zealand Film Archive, Auckland
Twin-set, Christchurch Art Gallery
Gray Nicol: New Work, New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington
Screening of five early video works (1977- 78) and live re-enactment of Duck Calling, New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington
Getting to know you, Post-Object Symposium, Christchurch
Duck Calling, Mildura Biennale, Australia
Auckland Sculptors and Painters, Auckland City Art Gallery
24 hour sculpture/performance, Auckland City Art Gallery