Nigel Brown was born in Invercargill and grew up in Tauranga. At Tauranga Boys’ College he was taught art by Fred Graham. He graduated from Elam School of Art at the University of Auckland in 1971, having been lectured by Robert Ellis, Pat Hanly, Colin McCahon, Garth Tapper and Greer Twiss.
"Brown first began exhibiting in 1972 and his highly praised 'Lemon Tree' series (1977) helped to consolidate his position in the art scene. In 1981 he was awarded a QEII Arts Council Grant for travel to the U.S., the U.K. and Western Europe. On his return, the impact of the 1981 Springbok tour protests, as well as a period living with fellow neo-expressionist artist Philip Clairmont that same year, had a lasting impression on Brown.
A founding member of the pressure group VAANA (Visual Artists Against Nuclear Arms) in 1984, Brown’s paintings and prints of this period tackled relevant issues not only on nuclear weaponry but also on feminism and the peace movement. This culminated in his 1985 exhibition Living in the Bomb Age, at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Brown’s subject matter centred, for the most part, on Captain Cook and the Pacific during the 1990s.
He was the first visual artist to receive the Inaugural Artists to Antarctica Award in 1998 and spent the following years immersed in related subject matter. In 2004 he was awarded an ONZM for services to Painting and Prink Making."
~ quoted from personal website.