A Glimmer of Hope with Nicole Evans March 17 2024

Nicole Evans is an Australian artist who grew up in the beautiful state of Tasmania. Growing up in Tassie instilled an appreciation and love for the environment and animals from a young age. Her realistic yet surreal paintings of animals and the natural world are multi-layered both literally and conceptually. Through meticulously painted layers and layers of oil paint, Nicole spotlights and aims to communicate her environmental concerns, love of animals and the natural world as well as grappling with and alluding to things from her personal life.

Nicole attained a Master of Fine Art from RMIT university in 2015 and exhibits her work nationally and internationally with her pieces held in private collections worldwide. She has been featured in publications such as Beautiful Bizarre Magazine and The LA Times.

Artist statement:

This series, ‘Glimmer’, has an environmental focus and spotlights threatened species of animals in unusual or unexpected environments - alluding to climate change. My paintings are also quite personal; the animals I paint are quite anthropomorphic and represent me, loved ones or things from my personal life. My paintings allow me to grapple with or communicate things in a way that is very cathartic for me.

Nicole's show Glimmer opens March 22.

Interview by Mel Parker. Images supplied by Nicole Evans.

Hi Nicole, and welcome back to Outré! It’s always a pleasure having you on our walls - what can we expect from you this time around?

I’m excited to be back, thank you for having me! For me, this series still strongly relates to my work from our show together in 2020, but this time around I’m feeling more confident in my practice - technically/aesthetically speaking but conceptually as well - so viewers can perhaps expect a little more risk-taking with colour, composition and subject matter this time around.

Your last solo show with us was Changing Tides, all the way back in 2020 - obviously a lot has happened since then! How do you feel your practice has evolved in that time? Has there been anything that has particularly surprised or excited you?

I think I have a deeper awareness and understanding of the underlying concepts that drive me to make what I make, which has unexpectedly helped me to feel even more motivated to paint and relish the whole process even more deeply - from the concept and sketching stage, all the way through to applying that final layer of glossy varnish.

You manage to capture such detail and feeling in your works, it’s pretty astonishing! What draws you to a particular animal or reference image as a subject for a painting?

Thank you, that is what I aim for! All of my paintings are very multi-layered both literally - most of my pieces have at least seven (thin) layers of oil paint - and conceptually. I am a nature enthusiast and have felt connected to animals from a young age (when I was a kid I wanted to become a vet nurse or marine biologist) so I just really love painting them.

Climate change and its impact on animals and humans is also at the forefront of my mind when creating my work. I often choose to spotlight animals in my paintings that are already endangered as a result of climate change and human activity and paint them in unusual environments. For example, in my piece 'The Lost and Found' I’ve depicted a group of young endangered animals that usually wouldn’t hang out together in a seemingly secluded/isolated environment - I wanted to allude to climate migration that’s occurring (for both animals and humans) which is forcing interactions between animal species as well as humans and animals that would otherwise be unlikely to occur.

I also had the Lost Boys from Peter Pan in my mind when coming up with the concept for this one, I imagine all these animals as “lost” or perhaps orphaned individuals who have “found” each other and found comfort and support from one another, which leads me to touch on the other underlying themes of my work. The animals I paint are quite anthropomorphic to me and allow me to grapple with things from my personal life and communicate them in a way that is very cathartic for me. So along with having a general environmental focus, my paintings are also very personal to me.

Your upcoming solo show is called Glimmer - can you take us through the inspiration behind the title?

Similarly to the paintings themselves, I like to use titles that are multilayered in meaning. Glimmer felt like the perfect title for this series; for me, the word implies the saying “glimmer of hope” which alludes to both my environmental themes as well as my personal life. It also refers quite literally to the paintings aesthetically speaking - I love to paint the ocean and the light it reflects and lately I’ve been really excited to experiment with luminosity and have been particularly fond of painting fireflies. The firefly alludes to my underlying concepts perfectly: they are endangered globally due to human activity which speaks directly to my environmental concerns and for me, fireflies are a personal metaphor, they’re little symbols of hope, “light at the end of the tunnel” so-to-speak.

Animals are clearly a muse, do you have animal companions in your life?

Indeed I do, my animal companion is a dog named Ernie and I could talk to you about him all day! He’s so special to me and my partner, and we call him our little sidekick and shadow. Ernie was adopted from a dog rescue and he came to us with significant social issues and had been through a lot of trauma despite being pretty young when we got him. It’s been a tough but enriching journey helping him to work through his trauma which has unexpectedly helped me work through my own, I think he’s helped me as much (if not more!) than I’ve helped him.

What's next for you? Any exciting projects on the horizon you can share?

Good question! No huge plans set in stone at the moment but honestly, I’m excited to just keep doing what I do - paint!

Thanks for chatting with us Nicole!