Mike Nicholls

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From time immemorial man has carved. We will, of course, never know which came first — the marks on a cave wall (drawing) or carved totems (sculpture). While many rock drawings have survived the test of time, a more organic material such as timber would not have fared as well. But many ancient carvings have survived, testimony to the sculptors’ art of cutting, crafting, chiseling and finessing. From Papua New Guinea to the Vatican, artisans have transformed timber into testimony. There are log carvings in Injalak and the Amazon, Tibet and Timbuktu. Carving, it seems, is an imperative to humanity. In some ways it is a taming of nature to transform a found material into the likeness of mankind. In other ways it is a celebration of nature, the joy of the grain and texture of timber. This is something that Mike Nicholls understands. Nicholls is a multi-talented artist. He is as adept with the paintbrush as the chainsaw, the pencil and the chisel. His paintings over recent years have been pared back, bordering at times on the minimal. His sculpture is the opposite — gnarled and elegant, brutal and beatific, it is nothing if not complex. The artist is searching for something in these works, an inner truth, the ability to reach out to people. There is something joyous in many of these creations and inevitably, while the artist may be reaching out, the viewer wants to reach in, to stroke these forms, to let the fingers linger over the gradients, the ebbs and " ows of Nicholls considered strokes of the blade.




Above: Mike Nicholls in the Cape York Aboriginal communities of Lockhart River and Aurakun where he has mentored for the last five years. This piece was from the exhibition "Carved from the Cape."