Nikky Morgan-Smith


April 4 - April 18 2015

The aesthetic imagination has a particular rhythm of vision that is fluid and unpredictable. It is continually negotiating the thresholds between light and dark, visible and invisible, quest and question, possibility and fact. Nikky Morgan-Smith's recent paintings reflect this flux of the creative spirit through imagery, energy of line and the spontaneity of her painterly approach. "Although there is an underlying narrative, I think that often the work just writes itself as a result of my being more involved with the process rather than the outcome," she explains. "I never push or plan a painting, I let it tell me where to go. The exciting part is allowing this to happen and understanding that all parts of the process are important, even the unplanned ones."

Rich in metaphor, Nikky's imagery has both anthropomorphic and self-referential intent. "Painting is my language," she continues. "I see my art practice as a way of externalising, even if that is a subconscious thing." The new works extend Nikky's ongoing themes of dislocation and metamorphosis within the confines of steamy bathrooms. Her displaced exotic animals are metaphors for the creative personality bound by routine domesticity. She describes the bathtub as being analogous to the notion of "woman as a vessel" - a receptacle for contemplation and subsequent undertakings. "The bathroom motif is representative of a desire to create a sanctuary for the self," Nikky muses. "I like the idea of water as an agency for transformation. I am still working through this concept whilst also making a shift".

Other paintings depict fabulous winged creatures soaring free of limitations into realms of greater comprehension and potentiality. "The current works, particularly the birds in flight, explore the idea of mapping change and capturing movement. I am enjoying the use of screen-printing to generate the feeling of motion. I don't use the screens in a traditional way. I layer the prints over painted areas in a disordered type of repetition then smudge, paint and scribble over them. I love the resultant luminosity this delicate layering produces in the winged works."

"For me the imagery creates a narrative which unfolds and becomes more complex and meaningful as I work with it. Eventually the imagery develops a whole other existence. This is my favourite thing in the creative act; the exhilaration of watching something take shape that wasn't there before." *

Nikky's studio is nestled amidst the forests of the Byron Shire hinterland. Born in Vanuatu, she moved to this area at the age of two with her parents, both of whom are artists. Apart from a decade spent in Melbourne after completing her art training, these subtropical wilds are where she has lived and worked. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, SCU, Lismore and RMIT, Melbourne. Her participation in art awards includes: Winner of Coriki Art Prize 2011; Highly Commended Belligen Art Prize 2010; Finalist Belligen Art Prize 2010; Finalist Border Art Prize 2009; Finalist She Art Prize 2009; Highly Commended SCU Student Art Prize 2008. Her work has been represented at International Art Fairs in London, Toronto, Mexico City, Singapore, Amsterdam, New York and Brussels. In 2014 she undertook a Residency in Le Couvent d'Auzits, South West France.


* Extract from interview with Jahlia Solomon: Displaced Inhabitants, Arts/Culture Feb. 2015

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