Nichola Shanley

Nichola Shanley is an artist whose practice occupies the space between the boundaries of past and present, the mythic and the domestic. Her ceramics appear as ancient, imperfect, textured artefacts that are maybe even a little magical. Though her background is in printmaking and drawing, her chosen medium is clay. Of this migration, she says, ‘We are close to clay, and understand it like flesh and water; mud and water, held together by heat and the sheer force of will.’ Her works are domestic in scale and often utilise familiar shapes such as vases, jugs, and candleholders. Grounded in her immediate landscape of Lyttelton Harbour, they act as a kind of archaeological dig into the literature, myths, geology, sorcery and history of these surroundings. Pagan and Catholic symbolism provide background noise to her practice, and so she uses clay as an instrument to retrieve submerged memories from past lives, as well as insights into her own intuition and being.


Nichola Shanley (b. 1969, Waimana, New Zealand) lives and works in Lyttelton, New Zealand. She completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at ASA in association with AIT in 1995 and majored in Printmaking. In the mid-nineties she moved to Dunedin with her sister Amanda Shanley who was studying ceramics at Otago Polytechnic. Since then, her practice as an artist and teacher has segued from a printmaking and drawing focus to one of working with clay.