• Until July, 2021 Collection Conversion at Tamworth Regional Gallery
  • Interested in acquiring work by Angus Nivison
  • please contact Utopia Art Sydney for more information
"Some artists are pitifully exposed by a survey or retrospective... Nivison, however, is a painter who seems to grow in stature when the work of two decades is brought together in one place."

John McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald
2021 headlineNewshow
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Above from left: 'Jeremy's Voice — Invasion', Acrylic, Graphite and Gesso on 640 gsm Wrag 2021. 'Josephine's Voice — Sunshine', Acrylic, Graphite and Gesso on 640 gsm Wrag 2021. 'Leichhardt's Voice — Shroud', Acrylic, Graphite and Gesso on 640 gsm Wrag 2021. Photography Simon Scott, Armidale NSW.

‘Collection Conversion’ 27 March - 11 July 2021 investigates the Tamworth region’s identity by inviting six regional artists working in different mediums to explore, investigate, research and mine six local museums and develop new artworks in response to their collections. Artists: Amy Hammond, Angus Nivison, David Darcy, Katherine Harvey, Rowen Matthews, Vic McEwan

Angus chose the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium (UNE) as the basis for his artworks.

Angus Nivison writes:

I have titled this collection of three large works Voices from the Herbarium because, after immersing myself in these specimens chosen from the collection housed in the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium, it became apparent that I was in a Tardis consisting of over 100,000 pressed and dried plant specimens, each of which had been collected by someone in the past. The unusual thing about this time machine was that you could only go back in time, not forward. But the wonderful thing was that you could 'meet' the people who had collected the specimens and hear their stories, or rather their voices. Welcome to Voices from the Herbarium.

Josephine's Voice - Sunshine, is a story of love, hardship and triumph. The underlying image in this work is a species of golden everlasting daisy that perhaps was collected around Botany Bay sometime after white settlement and sent back to England; from there, seeds were sent to France. In due course, the seeds came into the possession of Empress Josephine Bonaparte. In turn, she sent them to her beloved Napoleon, in exile on St Helena, to grow in his garden there, perhaps as a forget-me-not - a ray of sunshine, so to speak, in his isolation and punishment. There, the daisies staged a wonderful escape (perhaps looking for Josephine) and naturalised themselves over the entire island.

The second work depicts a species of brush box collected by the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in 1843, sometime before he set off on his final expedition, during which he vanished, never to be found. He was not, to my knowledge (and it is scant, indeed), a professional collector, but the specimen is in amazingly good condition - a testament to Leichhardt's fastidious attention to detail. This makes it all the more intriguing that he perished on that fateful expedition. I thought this might have been the last thing he touched before his disappearance that still physically exists. These thoughts led me to the title Leichhardt's Voice - Shroud.

The third work Jeremy's Voice - Invasion, are in terms of their arrival in Australia, one the more recent and one of the most damaging examples of the ignorance of occupation. It consists of Prickly Pear (background) and the tenacious Tiger Pear (overlaying Image). The latter species was collected by Emeritus Professor Jeremy Bruhl and represents the bleak outlook for this fragile land of Australia. Unless we change our ways, life styles and value what was here originally both botanically and culturally, so much will be lost.

Jeremy's Voice - Invasion is a semi-colon, let us hope there is not a fourth work - called Extinction - in this series.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Emeritus Professor Jeremy Bruhl, Director, N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium UNE, honorary curator Ian Telford and Tim Collins, for their guidance and help..

Angus Nivison, Walcha NSW
2020 headlineNewshow
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Above: 'Everything is broken' 2019, gesso, acrylic and charcoal on polyester, 188 x 504cm

COMPLICIT by Angus Nivison

The first inkling of the direction my latest show would take began to form in late 2018, as we barrelled headlong into another record breaking summer of heat, dry and heartbreak. I began to despair with the inability of our elected governments to show any compassion or duty towards the climate’s spiralling gallop towards the uncertain tipping point of the future.

Just before Christmas 2018 we experienced in the midst of an extreme dry period a mostly dry hurricane strength storm, which devastated parts of the Walcha landscape; my niece and her husband, being amongst the worst hit. In just an hour of frenzied winds they lost ninety percent of their property’s tree cover.

Mathew and Rebecca kept saying you must come and look for yourself, it is just unbelievable! Eventually I did, and it was! Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. Everything was unrecognisable, the landscape looked like a war zone, no trees left standing and no birds left alive. Silence- it was another world. Thus the first major work of this show began, with the title “Everything is Broken “. The scene before me though horrific, had an amazing serene and surreal beauty, like an alien world. This is what emboldened me to start painting.

Just after completing “Everything is Broken”, the bushfires began, with fires to the east, north, west and south. I began to think about the future unfolding, with our present attitudes to the state of the world. The path for my show was set. How could we not see that, through our actions and the governments we elect, that we are all responsible. Thus the title “Complicit” came into being. Next followed paintings such as “Two Degrees”, “Spark”, “Shadow of the Future”, “Perdition” and “Tilt”, all seemed to be pointing to situations where we could find ourselves, if we ignore our predicament.

Then in 2020 Covid 19 hit us. I was stopped in my tracks unable to work. I could not process this unexpected and terrifying event thrown up from overcrowding and climate change. I began to realise that nothing will ever be as it was. Now I had the catalyst for “Different World”, a sad beautiful painting depicting a moistly veiled, perhaps clouds, perhaps map of the world where everything is dislocated, indeed, a “Different World”.

The last painting I completed, “Herald” is all about hope. Perhaps we shall manage to change direction and become a better, fairer and more equal society and save the World!! I like to think so. What I have tried to give you, the viewer, in these works is beauty, sadness and HOPE. It is above all HOPE, I cling to that we will change the governments and attitudes of our little bubble called Earth. Perhaps art in some small way can help change us after all.

These works are by their nature open ended and mysterious they will reveal much more in the flesh. They are open to a myriad of interpretations. So please come along to Utopia Art Sydney and see for yourself.

Angus Nivison, Walcha NSW
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Enjoy the youtube video of Angus in his studio and the exhibition pre-opening. Please visit Utopia Art Sydney for more information - www.utopiaartsydney.com.au
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Above: 'Veiled Landscape —Zahnjiajie # 2' 2018, acrylic and graphite on 18oz poly /cotton. H 189 cm x W 169 cm.
Angus travelled to Zhangjiajie in China in October 2017 as a guest of the Nock Foundation. On his return he made a body of work in response to the landscape and this will be shown for the first time in Hong Kong.

Sticks and Stones - Angus Nivison and Ana Pollak opening 3 October, 2018 to 30 November, 2018.

Nockart Gallery, Unit 16a, 16/F Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong more information at nockartgallery.com

About Angus Nivison:

Angus Nivison is inspired by the natural surroundings of his property in the northern tablelands of NSW. Through his paintings he explores landscape, memory and the human condition.

Angus was born in the New England area at Walcha where he grew up. Walcha is cold, hard country. Nivison has lived on a working property in Walcha his whole life, knowing everyone around him, witnessing the cycles of life and death.

“The most recent Nivison works include trademark brooding blacks, darker groups of colours that reflect recent effects of climate change plus what he’s seen around him and what he’s felt from the wider, more challenged world.

“Amongst the blacks and greys, are splashes of bright open colour. His brushwork is sweeping, the hand is clear, the mark making expressive, and he is in control. These are paintings of what has been and the premonition of what may come.

“There are also tantalising pink paintings, where a sun shines with a beacon of hope, and a romantic vision only adds to the deep forces that now run through Nivison’s work.

“This Australia is not of gum trees but of an ancient landscape full of magic and secrets and dark power that only Angus Nivison can make us feel and see.

”Angus Nivison has been an important part of Australian art since the 70s and his impressive debut with Anne Lewis’ famously influential Galley A.

Angus Nivison won the Wynne Prize in 2002. His work is part of most major Australian museum and private collections; he’s been represented by leading contemporary galleries; Gallery A, Bloomfield, Coventry Gallery, BBA and Utopia Art Sydney: had 30 solo and 116 group shows; and is a multi-year finalist for both Wynne and Archibald prizes.

Click here for more information about "Angus Nivison - A Survey" curated by Sandra McMahon, Director of Tamworth Regional Gallery. This show opened at The Tamworth Regional Gallery 16 June, 2012 and concluded at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney in February 2013. Read reviews of the Survey Show and view catalogue.
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Above: Angus Nivison in his studio painting ‘Star Turn’, 2016, image courtesy of Utopia Art Sydney. Painting details: Angus Nivison, Star Turn, 2016, acrylic spray paint and pigment on poly/cotton, 188 x 504 cm.