Nikky Morgan-Smith

May 1, 2016

To coincide with her exhibition at the Lismore Regional Gallery, Anthea Polson Art will showcase during May a selection of Nikky Morgan-Smith's paintings in its first Featured Artist of the Month series. Rich in metaphor, Nikky's imagery has both anthropomorphic and self-referential intent. "Painting is my language," she says. "I see my art practice as a way of externalising."

The aesthetic imagination has a particular rhythm of vision that is fluid and unpredictable. Nikky's mixed-media works embody Paul Klee's notion of "unleashing the wanderings of the subconscious through gestural freedom". They are created without premeditation or the notion of a conclusion so that narratives might spontaneously present. Line follows its own energies.

Certain works extend Nikky's ongoing themes of dislocation and metamorphosis within the confines of steamy bathrooms. Her displaced, incongruous creatures are metaphors for the creative personality bound by routine domesticity. A mysterious substance symbolising cleansing and renewal, water also has associations with the intuitive and the feminine, as well as the creative processes. "I like the idea of water as an agency for transformation and shape-shifting," Nikky confides. "The exotic animals appearing out of the steam are representations of things washed or changed. Always, they represent facets of human character, human emotions."

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. I never push or plan a painting, I let it tell me where to go. I think that often the work just writes itself as a result of my being more involved with the process rather than the outcome. The exciting part is allowing this to happen and understanding that all parts of the process are important, even the unplanned ones. 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.


» Back to previous page