I make generously rounded, eccentric vessels, thrown and manipulated, with lush dimpled surfaces inviting tactile as well as visual responses. The surfaces on these vessels have evolved through years of technical research with soda glazing--development of materials and processes, and investigation of glaze microstructure. The research was done to satisfy a curiosity that was largely aesthetic: a desire to work directly with clay and fire, and to achieve close integration of form and surface. The subtle interplay of technique, materials and aesthetics is an essential part of my art practice. Arriving at an acceptable balance between knowledge, intuition and uncertainty is a continuing challenge.
I am intrigued by the sculptural contrast between closed and open forms, and firing effects on exposed and shadowed clay surfaces. I enjoy playing with impressions of volume and movement. Some forms are seemingly stretched from the inside out and blown up like a balloon; others appear to dance in slow graceful curves or lively waves. For the past several years I have lived and worked at the foot of Mt. Budawang near Braidwood NSW. Moving from a Sydney urban environment to a 120 acre property highlighted my sense of space, and consequently, of form. It is not surprising that the gently curved yet complex and rugged terrain of the Budawangs is reflected in my fascination with form and its interaction with surface. My aim as an artist is simply to create beautiful objects: not just pretty things to look at, but a powerful beauty that quietly overwhelms, moves, and reveals some of what human beings are capable of, beyond the ordinariness of existence.
PhD, Monash University, Gippsland Centre for Art and Design, Churchill. Victoria. 2002.
MA Candidate, Monash University, Gippsland, commenced 1998, transferred to PhD 1999.
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Visual Arts), Monash University, Gippsland, 1997.
B.S. Mechanical Engineering (high honour), Michigan State University, U.S.A., 1976. Course included 1 year (1974/75) at University of Surrey, Guildford, England.
Associate Diploma in Arts--Ceramics, St. George College of TAFE, Kogarah, N.S.W., 1995.
Ceramics Certificate, St. George College of TAFE, 1985.
Australian Postgraduate Award, Monash University, 1998-2001.
National Merit Scholarship, Michigan State University, 1972-1976.
Member, Michigan State University Honors College, 1972-76.
Member, Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, Michigan State University 1976.
Workshop Leader, Kalkspatz, Dresden, Germany, 19-21 June 2009
Workshop Leader, La Meridiana Centre for Ceramics in Tuscany, Italy, 2-16 May 2009.
Ceramics Lecturer (sessional), School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra. Current position.
Visiting Lecturer, Alberta College of Art and Design, Canada, 6-7 Dec. 2007.
Visiting Lecturer, Red Deer College, Alberta Canada, 29-30 Dec. 2007
Guest Artist, Spring Fever ceramic festival, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, 12-15 October 2007.
Workshop leader, Archie Bray Foundation, Helena Montana, U.S.A., July 2007.
Workshop leader, Hiroshi Ogawa Wood/Soda workshop, Elkton Oregon, USA, August 15-21 2007.
Workshop Leader, Pottery Northwest, Seattle USA, August 24-September 2 2007
Soda Masterclass, Pottery Northwest, Seattle USA, 9-11 September 2005.
Visiting Lecturer, Archie Bray Foundation, Monatana USA, 24 August 2005.
Soda Masterclass, Red Deer College, Alberta Canada, 4-8 July 2005.
PhD Examiner, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, December 2004
Visiting Lecturer, Red Deer College, Alberta Canada, July 2003.
Visiting Lecturer, Glas & Keramikskolen, Bornholm, Denmark, January 20-31 2003.
Workshop Leader, Kalkspatz organisation, University of Kassel, Germany, 6-9 Feb. 2003
Ceramics Tutor (part-time), Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Aug-Sep 2002.
Guest Lecturer, Hornsby TAFE, May 2003.
Workshop Leader, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis Minnesota, USA, 1-4 March 2002.
Guest Lecturer, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, 6-8 March 2002.
Guest Speaker, Victorian Ceramic Group, Box Hill (Melbourne), Nov. 2001.
Ceramics Teacher (part-time), Brookvale TAFE, NSW, 2001, 2002.
Visiting Artist/Workshop Leader, Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville Tennessee, USA, April 2001.
Ceramics Teacher, Part-time, National Art School, Sydney, 1996-2000.
Guest Lecturer, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA, March 2000.
Guest Lecturer, Northwestern Michigan College, Michigan, USA, March 2000.
Guest Lecturer, Sydney College of Arts, University of Sydney, September 2000.
Ceramics Teacher, Part-time, East Sydney TAFE, 1995-96.
Kiln Master, Experimental Firing Day, organised by Hot & Sticky and the Potters' Society of Australia, Balmoral Village (near Mittagong) NSW, July 1997.
Workshop Leader, Shoalhaven Potters, Nowra NSW, in conjunction with Shoalhaven Artsfeast, 11 August 1996.
Kiln Master, Claysculpt Gulgong, May 1995.
Guest Lecturer, Brookvale TAFE, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003.
Guest Lecturer, Randwick TAFE, October 1994.
Ceramics Teacher, Part-Time, Department of Corrective Services, Long Bay Gaol Remand Centre , May-June 1992.
Other Work Experience:
1976-78: employed by U.S. Peace Corps as engineer working in the Muda Irrigation Scheme, Kedah, Malaysia. Researched local compatibility of agricultural machinery, designed equipment for irrigation system.
1979-86: part-time tutor/lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, NSW Institute of Technology, Sydney.
Gail Nichols Ceramics, Tong-In Gallery, Seoul, Korea, 23 Oct-4 Nov 2008
A Sense of Place, Studio Altenburg Gallery, Braidwood NSW, 15 Aug--7 Sep 2008
Skepsi on Swanston Gallery, Melbourne,June 12-30, 2007
Yamaki Art Gallery, Osaka, Japan, 25 June-7 July 2007
Boutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, 26 July-26 August 2006.
The Clay Studio of Missoula, Montana, 5-27 August 2005
Boutwell Draper Gallery, Redfern Sydney, 24 Sep-16 Oct 2004
Forest Gallery, South Durras NSW, 3 April-3 May 2004
Mura Clay Gallery, Sydney, 6-25 June 2003
Haecceity Art Gallery, Melbourne, Nov. 2002
Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland Oregon U.S.A., 28 Feb – 14 April 2002
Haecceity Art Gallery, Melbourne, Nov. 2001
Mura Clay Gallery, Newtown NSW, 27July-8 Aug 2001
Phoenix Gallery, Gulgong NSW, 30 April-5 May 2001
Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland Oregon, U.S.A., April 2001
Switchback Gallery, Monash University, Gippsland Centre for Art and Design, 3-19 Oct. 2000
Mura Clay Gallery, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998
5th World Ceramic Beinnale 2009 Korea International Competition (finalist)
Conversations, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, 15 July-15 Aug 2009
Oz 5 x 5, Lacoste Gallery, Concord MA, USA, Jan 10-31,2009
Formed in Fire, Leach Pottery, St. Ives, England, 14 Sep—14 Nov 2008.
2008 Gold Coast International Ceramic Competition Exhibition, Australia, 16 Aug—19 Oct.
Contemporary Ceramics and Japanese Patchwork, Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, 18 Oct-24 Nov 2007.
4th World Ceramic Biennale Korea International Competition: Ceramics for Use, Yeoju World Ceramic Livingware Gallery, April 28-May 27 2007.
VASE (Volatilising Atmospheric Soda Effects), The Shanty, ClayEdge Gulgong, 16-21 April 2007.
2007 NCECA Clay National Biennial Exhibition, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville Kentucky, U.S.A., March 14-23.
Raw Earth, Sabbia Gallery, Sydney, March 2-24 2007.
They Followed Me Home, Selections from the Kasper-Hansen Ceramics Collection, Coe College/Marvin Cone Gallery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa U.S.A., Oct 20-Nov 10 2006.
20+1, Invitational Exhibition, Northern Arizona University Art Museum, U.S,A.,Sep 29-Nov 11 2006.
Contemporary Art 34, Missoula Art Museum, Montana U.S.A., Feb 2006.
California Dreamin, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A., Feb 23-26 2006.
Design Showcase, ANU School of Art Gallery, Canberra, August 2005.
Dining in the Gallery, Cudgegong Gallery, Gulgong NSW 16 April 2005.
City of Hobart Art Prize 2005 Exhibition, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, 4 June-31 July 2005.
Beyond Earth, Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Sydney, 28 Jan-27 Feb 2005.
The Touch of Ceramics, Boutwell Draper Gallery, Redfern, Sydney, 24 Nov-18 Dec 2004.
Celebrating the Master II, Skepsi on Swanston Gallery, Carlton, Melbourne, 5 Oct-5 Nov 2004.
Bowl’d and Beautiful, Ceramic Art Gallery, Paddington, Sydney, 2-29 June 2004.
Rye Crop, Mura Clay Gallery, Newtown, Sydney, 3-29 Oct. 2003.
2003 Gold Coast International Ceramic Competition Exhibition, Australia.
2003 Ceramic Biennale International Competition Exhibition, Korea, 1 Sep.-30 Oct.
Ceramics: The Australian and New Zealand Context, Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, 6 June–3 August 2003.
Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award Exhibition, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, 14 Sep.-13 Oct. 2002.
Orton Cone Box Show, Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas, U.S.A., 2002.
Cover Story, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 23 Feb – 31 July 2002.
Bowled Over, Fremantle Arts Centre, WA, March-April 2000.
National Art School Staff Exhibition, East Sydney, July 2000.
NCECA 2000 “Cups of Merit”, Denver U.S.A., March 2000, Highly Commended.
Tenth Birthday Exhibition, Mura Clay Gallery, Newtown, Sydney, March/April 2000.
The Generous Vessel, Centre for Contemporary Craft, Customs House, Sydney, December 1999 –January 2000.
Best in Sydney Comes to Paddington, Ceramic Art Gallery, Sydney, December 1999-January 2000.
Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramics Award Exhibition, Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia, March-May 1999. Selected for special acquisition.
Sidney Myer Fund Ceramics Award— A Decade in Review, touring exhibition, Victoria, 1999-2000.
Hyperblaster Exhibition, Hyperclay, Gulgong NSW Australia, May 1998.
Interlock at Artspace, Woolloomooloo, Sydney: staff & students from East Sydney TAFE.
Australian Craft Show, Sydney, December 1995, 1994.
Fingerprints, Design Plus Gallery, Queanbeyan NSW, July 1996, in conjunction with the 8th National Ceramics Conference, Canberra, Australia.
Juggling the Elements, Manly Art Gallery, NSW Australia, August 1995.
Fisher's Ghost Exhibition, Campbelltown Art Gallery, NSW Australia, November 1995, November 1994.
Ceramics Monthly 54(Dec)2006:34-37. Soda, Clay and Fire, excerpts from the book.
Soda, Clay and Fire, 180 page book based on lessons learned during PhD research, American Ceramic Society, 2006.
The Log Book, issue 24 2005: 9-17. Something of Value.
Ceramics Art and Perception no. 52, 2003: 41-48. Reconnaissance: New Work by Owen Rye.
Ceramics Monthly 50(Feb.) 2002: 64-68. Expanding the Mystery.
Pottery in Australia 41 (autumn) 2001:12-16 & cover. Atmosphere: It’s a Gas.
Compass 2001, Monash University Postgraduate Association: 11-14. A Global Adventure in Ceramics (and other disciplines).
Ceramics Technical no. 10, May 2000:62-68. Colour and Ice: Atmospheric Effects in Soda Glazing.
Ceramics Monthly 47 (Nov.) 1999: 44-49 & cover. Charting New Paths with Soda.
Ceramics Monthly 47 (February) 1999: 8. Letters: Soda glazing rewards.
Pottery in Australia, 33  (Spring) 1994: 13-15. From Salt to Soda: A New Future.
Pottery in Australia, 31  (Winter) 1992: 31, 70-72. "Soda Firing: A Healthier Alternative".
Pottery in Australia, 23 1984: 27-29. Wood Combustion/Bourry Box Kiln.
Writers’ Panel, ClayEdge Gulgong, 20April 2007.
National Soda Glaze Conference, featured artist, ANU School of Art, Canberra, September 2005.
‘Something of Value’, paper presented to Gundaroo Woodfire Conference, Australia, 22-25April 2005.
Ignition National Ceramics Conference, Bendigo Victoria, 13-16 April 2003. Demonstrator.
Panel discussion presentation, ‘Discovering Fire’, Ignition National Ceramics Conference, Bendigo.
Working the Surface, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 8-9 Nov 2002, demonstrator.
Tanja Woodfire, April 2002. Presentation during panel session on firing techniques.
International Forum slide presentation at National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conferences, USA: Kansas City Missouri 2002, Charlotte North Carolina 2001, Denver Colorado 2000.
Slide lecture at Clayfeast ceramics conference, Gulgong NSW, April 2001.
“A Global Adventure in Ceramics (and other disciplines)”, Paper presented at the 5th Annual Southern Region Postgraduate Seminar, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Oct 6-7, 2000.
“Soda and Ice”, Topical Discussion Group leader at NCECA 2000 conference, Denver U.S.A., March 2000.
“What’s New in Soda Glaze Ceramics”, individual paper presented at 9th National Ceramics Conference, Perth, July 1999.
"Salt or Soda, or Is That the Question?” individual paper presented at the 8th National Ceramics Conference, Canberra, Australia, July 1996.
Other Publications (Citations, Reviews)
Preview of the 4th World Cramic Biennale, Monthly Ceramic Art (Korea). 2007/04, p. 61
Tudball, Ruthanne, 2007. Book Review: Soda, Clay and Fire. Ceramic Review
Rye, Owen, 2007. Book Review: Soda, Clay and Fire. Ceramics Technical no. 24: 108-109.
Weiss, Karen, 2007. Book Review: Soda, Clay and Fire. The Journal of Australian Ceramics, 46: 102-103.
Browning, Skylar, 2005. Glazed and Infused: The Clay Studio Showcases Gail Nichols. Missoula Independent 16 :43.
Campbell-Allen, Barbara, 2005. Beyond Earth (catalogue essay), Journal of Australian Ceramics, Vol. 43 No. 3, 2004: 44-52.
Weiss, Karen, 2004. Gail Nichols: The Artist as Landscape, Ceramics Art and Perception no. 55: 25-29.
Buckle, Sue, 2003. Ceramics in Context, Pottery in Australia vol. 42 no. 3 (spring/summer): 66-67.
Reason, Robert, 2003. Ceramics in the Australian and New Zealand Context. Ceramics Art and Perception 52, 2003: 49-56.
Headley, Christopher, 2003. Mapping Out a Personal Perspective. Pottery in Australia vol. 42 no. 2 (winter): 42-52.
Torrens, Alex, 2003. Central West ceramic focus. Pottery in Australia, 42 (Autumn):12-15.
Kindlmann, Marcia. 2002. Materials-science kudos. Ceramics Monthly letters, 50 (May):10.
Woo, Marie and Stephenson, John. 2001. Consider a little more water in your fire. Ceramics Technical 13:61.
Smith, Penny. 2001. Ceramics: Now where? Craft Arts International 51:67-73.
Wynne-Jones, Megan et al. 2001. Marrickville Backyards. Marrickville Community History Group, Bloomings Books, Dulwich Hill NSW: 61-67.
Rye, Owen. 2000. Water in woodfired kilns. Ceramics Technical 10: 21.
Hopper, Robin, ed. 2000. Clay and Glazes for the Potter. Krause Publications, Wisconsin USA.
Pottery in Australia 39 2000: 1, 20. Illustrations of work.
Hollister, Virginia. 1999. The generous vessel. (review of group exhjibition) Pottery in Australia 38:44-46.
Aitken, Dick. 1998. Warm Skin, Cool Body (review of solo exhibition),Craft Arts International 44: 70-72.
Pottery in Australia 37:20. 1998. Illustration of work.
Nicholls, Val. 1997. From here to where? Pottery in Australia 36: 32-33.
Ling, May. 1996. Introducing soda. Ceramic Review 158: 29-31.
Potters Society of Australia. 1996. The Australian Potters Directory: 96.
Tudball, Ruthanne. 1995. Soda Glazing, A&C Black, England: 14, 39, 16-17
Craft Australia, Autumn 1986/1: 59. Illustration of work.
Nicholls, Valerie. 1993. Strictly soda. Pottery in Australia 32  (Winter): 60-62.
Archie Bray Foundation, Helena Montana, USA, 1-31 July 2007
The Clay Studio of Missoula, Montana, U.S.A., 20 July-4 Sep 2005.
International Ceramic Centre-Guldagergard, Skaelskor, Denmark, Dec 2002-Jan 2003.
Oregon College of Art and Craft, Portland Oregon, USA, March-April 2001.
Port Hacking Potters Competition, August 2006: Judge.
Soda/Salt National, Missoula Montana, Sep 2005: Judge.
Rye Crop, Mura Clay Gallery, Newtown, Sydney, 3-29 Oct. 2003: co-curator with Simone Fraser.
Archie Bray Foundation, Montana U.S.A. (2005, 2007)
Gold Coast City Gallery, Surfers Paradise QLD (2003)
Art Gallery of South Australia (2003)
World Ceramic Exposition Foundation (WOCEF), Korea (2007, 2003)
Brookvale TAFE collection, Sydney Australia (2003)
Hornsby TAFE collection, Sydney, Australia (2003)
Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia (1999, 2003)
International Ceramic Centre-Guldagergard, Skaelskor, Denmark (2003)
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia (2001)
Castlemaine Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia (2001)
Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland Oregon, USA (2001)
Gippsland Gallery-Sale, Victoria, Australia (2000)
Manly Art Gallery & Museum, NSW, Australia (1995)
Southern Sydney Institute of TAFE collection, Sydney, Australia (1995)
Private collections in Australia and overseas
2009 5th World Ceramic Beinnale Korea International Competition: Honorable Mention
2007 4th World Ceramic Biennale Korea International Competition: Bronze Prize.
2007 Ceramics Technical Award, ClayEdge conference, Gulgong NSW.
2007 NCECA Clay National Biennial Exhibition (USA): Gas Kiln Award.
2005 City of Hobart Art Prize: Highly Commended.
2003 2nd World Ceramic Biennale Korea International Competition: Honorable Mention.
2003 Gold Coast International Ceramic Competition: Acquisition.
2002 Orton Cone Box Show, U.S.A.: Purchase Award.
2001 Port Hacking Potters Competition, NSW. 2nd Major Award (Ceramic Supply Company Award); 1st in Open Wheelthrown.
2000 NCECA Cups of Merit, Denver U.S.A.: Highly Commended.
1999Sidney Myer Fund International Ceramics Competition, Shepparton Victoria: Special Acquisition.
1998 Royal Easter Show, Homebush NSW: 3rd Prize in Ceramics-Handbuilt Section.
1997 Port Hacking Potters Ceramic Competition: 1st in Theme Section "Colours of Australia".
1992 Port Hacking Potters Ceramic Competition: 2nd in Open Wheelthrown Section, 2nd in Decorative Techniques Section.
1985 Port Hacking Potters Ceramic Competition: 1st in Student Wheelthrown Section.
Born: 25 December 1953, Kalamazoo Michigan, U.S.A.
Citizenship: Australia and U.S.A. Australian resident since 1978.