Barbara Nicholls

email: info@bnicholls.co.uk
telephone: 0044 (0)7812 737 386

My Approach

My work operates across a broad range of artistic categories, employing a wide span of processes and techniques to address a number of engaging critical issues: questions of aesthetic form, surface and depth, chance and order, the handmade and the readymade, the archaeological and the cartographic, and the relations between work and play. My approach, both to the subject matter with which I engage and to its material rendition is allegorical or metaphorical, rather than literal or mimetic. The objects I produce, be they primarily two dimensional or three dimensional forms, may thus be regarded as translations or complex developments with their own internal logic, structures which have, to a considerable degree, moved away from their original sources whilst nonetheless connecting to them through inference and analogy.

I take as my point of departure systems of archaeological and geographical mapping, accumulations and isolated portions of material remains, the convoluted territorial alignments of the city (its physicality and historical layering), and the malleability of the actual materials out of which my work is made. I draw upon a substantial (though not arbitrary) armoury of technical processes and devices, bringing these together so as to produce works of a coherent yet open nature which ask that the viewer respond to them in an active and engaged way.

An individual work can display several, apparently contradictory methods of “inscription”, of technical know-how within its frame: drawing, painting, routing, folding and unfurling, tracing and tracking, sanding down and sharpening up. The result may be a multilayered, overly physical cluster of densely packed substances or, conversely, something minimal, neatly stripped down. My works might sometimes be better described as “accumulations” rather than as conventional paintings; they are certainly situated somewhere between or adjacent to conventionally established categories, this hybrid status being one of their most intriguing and seductive features.

More recently since 2011 I have exclusively used watercolour on paper. These works continue established themes of geology, mapping and topography. The watercolour paint settles onto the thick sheets of paper creating a geological terrain, climate and topography of paint and ground. They are in part investigations into the scientific properties of watercolour whilst also being instinctive reactions to the process of using watercolour. The paintings are poured, cajoled, blown and left alone to become records of colourful events reflecting the relationship between myself and the materials. Through the long process of evaporation, sometimes with the assistance of a breeze from an electric fan, this systematised use of colour mixed with a chance element merges colours to create a soft blending of geographies.

 
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Catalogue Essays

Exhibition catalogue essay and interview by Karen Raney

And In Berlin

Exhibition catalogue essay and interview by Karen Raney
Exhibition catalogue essay by Peter Suchin

Borders, Codes and Crossings

Exhibition catalogue essay by Peter Suchin
Exhibition catalogue essay by Oliver McLarnon

"What Passing Bells..."

Exhibition catalogue essay by Oliver McLarnon
 

Press Releases

 

Catalogues