Michelle Nikou lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia. Working in materials including lead, bronze, resin, latex and ceramics, she produces mixed-media sculptural works which often recontextualise everyday objects.
Michelle Nikou’s sculpture Vacancy is an installation of seven cast-lead containers resembling pitchers and cooking pots. These are garlanded together by neon lettering spelling out the word that gives the work its title. The vessels are interspersed here and there by found objects: imitation slices of white bread moulded in latex. With its humble domestic forms, the enormous weight and toxicity of its main material (lead) and its location on the floor, this work feels subdued, abject and mournful. Each of the seven elements operates like one entry in a communication string that punctuates a space of emotional vulnerability and risk. And neon signs typically conjure loneliness because of the way they speak their messages into the empty night. By incorporating the word vacancy, the sculpture broadcasts its own sad emptiness, evoking loss and longing. The vacancy referred to is literal as well as psychological. The sculpture has a loose and open structure in the way its elements are spread over the floor by lines of cable that link them together while simultaneously spacing them apart. But the heaviness of the art work’s mood and material suggests the space is not vacant at all but overburdened with fullness. Perhaps it is both, simultaneously, filled and evacuated.
Christine Toussainte Morrow