Inside the Studio

Nigel Bird

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
Much of my work originates from the landscape and the natural environment. My recent work has as much to do with the process of making it, as it is about what I see, hear, smell, taste, feel, or touch.  The content of my work is in the form, the nature of the making, and the nature of the stimulus that informs the method of making.  I do not use colours; instead, I rely upon using the raw innate colour of black pastel, charcoal, carbon deposits, Indian ink, and water.

I am inspired by a range of things: principles of Wabi Sabi; spaces ­­open and vast; the sounds of the natural environment; weather and landscapes; surfaces naturally corroded and eroded; flowing water; reflections, rhythms and sounds; the Sun; heat and wind; fires (I saw bushfires in Australia lit by the indigenous peoples of the Northern Territories (1996); the smell and shapes of the smoke; the shapes and forms of the ash left behind.

The memory of this has always stayed with me, I can remember the smell of the smoke, even now); the sound of “making”; footprints made by animal and human; aspects of archaeology and architecture; art by Eduardo Chillada (Eulogy to the Horizon), Richard Serra, Ad Reinhardt, David Nash, Frank Stella, Carl Andre, John Virtue, Neville Gabie, John Carter and the Papanya Tula Group of Artists of Central and Western Australia.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
My lecturers always told me to work hard and develop my own unique visual language, which expresses my individuality.  A former teaching colleague also used to advise students to “draw around your think and your own individuality” (great advice).

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I sometimes work to music, especially when one of my neighbours plays their music loud. Then, I turn the volume up. I sometimes work to the sounds of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Jam, or Stereo MC’s.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet.

Who are your favorite writers?
I don’t read many books, so I am not familiar with a particular author. I do, however, read about art and artists quite a lot, and I refer to information provided on Axis (