Gill Nicol trained as an artist and has over twenty-five years experience in the arts. She has worked for numerous organisations including engage (national association for gallery education), Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), mac (midlands arts centre, Birmingham), Tate Liverpool, Spike Print Studio and Arnolfini in Bristol. She spent four years with alias (artist-led initiatives advisory service), working as a consultant to artist groups based in the South West, and worked for nearly two years with ArtMatrix, offering professional development advice for over 200 creative people in Bristol and Wiltshire. She has written feasibility studies, business plans and raised funds for a number of projects; an example being a succesful capital bid to Arts Council England, South West to matchfund investment gained from East Devon District Council for the growth and expansion of Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton.

In 2009, she spent eight months at Tate St Ives on a work-based Cultural Leadership programme working on audience development, and was Head of Interaction at Arnolfini until February 2011.  As lightsgoingon, she has continued to work with a wide range of cultural organisations. Recent work has included:

  • The Visitor Experience Programme, an Arts Council England funded programme looking at the quality of experience for the casual visitor to ten contemporary art galleries across the South West, West and East Midlands
  • Module leader for BA Fine Art Professional Practice; and lecturer on MA Curatorial Practice at Bath Spa University;  and visiting lecturer at University of Chichester
  • Facilitator of ‘Come Along Do’;  a discussion forum following art films at Chapter Art Centre, Cardiff
  • Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England
  • Training sessions in What is Contemporary Art and How to Engage Visitors at Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth,  Falmouth Art Gallery, RAMM in Exeter and Folkestone Triennial
  • Engagement Programmer for artSOUTH; an exciting opportunity for national and international artists to develop new works in collaboration with professionals/specialists of their choice in any other field or discipline. The project enabled engaging and innovative collaborative commissions of the highest quality, for indoor and outdoor non-gallery locations across central southern England in Autumn 2013. Working with Hampshire County Council and 15 partners.
  • Working with Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery to deliver three talks and produce a publication to celebrate their reopening in 2014.

She has an MA in Fine Art Printmaking (Distinction) from University of Brighton (1985-88) and an MA in Feminism and Visual Arts from University of Leeds (1996-98).

Gill is a passionate communicator and a confident trainer, with a focus on mentoring artists and creative businesses. She approaches life with enthusiasm, energy and confidence, yet underpinned by a commitment to research, evaluation and analysis.And she is taking all this to the MCA in Sydney, Australia, starting 3 August 2015 as Director, Audience Engagement! Here’s to a very new and exciting life ahead.

Contact: gill@lightsgoingon.com


I have today finished my last shift as a Gallery Explainer for the Walk On exhibition in Plymouth. I just wanted to say thank you for the training session which really helped today. I was challenged by a couple who were mocking the work and asking me to justify it. I remembered the exercise you showed our group in body language and in matching tone. What a buzz when they left shaking my hand and going to the next venue! I have really enjoyed talking with people and have felt the majority have engaged and gone away with a positive experience and perhaps a new way of thinking about contemporary art. An altogether fantastic experience which was enhanced by your infectious enthusiasm and love for what you teach. Thank you.
Julie Ellis (student at Plymouth College of Art)

It has been fabulous working with you – you’re wonderfully motivating, enthusiastic, and great at what you do!
I’ve personally learnt a huge amount from you, so hope our paths cross again..
Tara McKinney, artSOUTH project coordinator, Hampshire County Council

Gill has endless enthusiasm and a real passion for engaging people with contemporary art. A supportive and insightful approach alongside the dedication to making things the best they can be means she’s a real pleasure to work with, thank you!
Jo Montague , Partnership and Planning Manager / Arts Projects and Resources Manager , Arts and Museums Service, Hampshire County Council

“I have never had the confidence to critique art before. I always feel like it’s not my place to do so. However I found myself really engaging with the format in which Gill ran the session, and felt really comfortable with discussing Cosima’s work. Gill made the work really accessible and I’ll definitely be more inclined to visit the Arnolfini again in the future”.
“Gill, thank you so much for a great afternoon. I found it really insightful and inspiring. I don’t normally visit art exhibitions, but you have definitely encouraged me to take the time to visit some in the near future. I hope that you will be able to join us for another creativity workshop soon.”
“I found the session with Gill really insightful. Her questions helped me think around the individual pieces of art and work out exactly what I thought of it, making it a lot less intimidating and therefore accessible. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys art (or even those who don’t) but sometimes find themselves stumped when visiting exhibitions.”