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Trevor Nickolls, Bird

Trevor Nickolls The Bird

The Artist

Trevor Nickolls is a senior indigenous artist and seminal figure in Australian contemporary art. Born in 1949, Nickolls has exhibited nationally and internationally for over 30 years and represented Australia with Rover Thomas at the Venice Biennale in 1990.

Trevor Nickolls studied in Melbourne at the Victorian College of the Arts. He spent most of the second half of the 1980s living and working in Melbourne prior to being selected as a joint official representative for the 1990 Venice Biennale. This period in Melbourne coincided with the creation of a series of powerful images relating to the urban landscape and the inner mind. His work is represented in many state, national and international galleries and Trevor has earned the title ' the father of urban Aboriginal art' by Brenda L Croft, National Gallery of Australia.  

Trevor Nickolls' The Bird

The Work of Art

Trevor Nickolls' work is innovative and unique. His work often shows a complex iconography with many layers of meaning. A major theme in his art is “Dreamtime to Machinetime” a theme which articulates the cultural transition which many Aboriginal people have undertaken in their journey from their traditional cultural heritage of living in the Dreamtime, into the world of mechanisation and technology. Trevor Nickoll’s work often presents various interactions between these two different worlds or shows the dilemma of living within both. Subject matter includes the spirituality of the Aboriginal people and their interrelationship to land, sea, sky and cosmos; where people and elements are seen as integrated rather than separate.

The Bird was created in 1987 and is a good illustration of Dreamtime to Machinetime with the use of a number of Aboriginal motifs and a stylised bird that could almost be mechanical. The work of art also relates something about the environment, with elements that are seen as integrated. The image here is a limited screen-print, number 81 of 99.

This work of art was purchased by the University of Canberra in 2011.

Brisbane Brother by Trevor Nickolls

Other works of art

There is one other work of art by Trevor Nickolls within the University of Canberra's art collection. Brisbane Brother depicts an Indigenous figure holding a wheel and a didgeridoo within a tropical plantation. Again a range of themes are clearly present, particularly the dilemma of living in two very different worlds.