Peter Nicholson started making sculpture in 1982 because at the time it seemed like a natural offshoot of his cartooning, and a valuable way of making caricature studies of his cartoon targets.
He had just returned from Italy, after living there with his wife and children for a year. He was inspired by the story-telling power of medieval Italian sculpture, the grotesque sculpture of the baroque, and of course the work of French nineteenth century cartoonist Honore Daumier.
He made many caricature sculptures, which eventually led to the making of the Rubbery Figures puppets. His sculpture was exhibited in several exhibitions, including the National Museum exhibition that toured Australia in 1993-4.
Nicholson started making portrait busts more or less by accident after being commissioned by the Ballarat City Council to make a bronze portrait of Prime Minister Bob Hawke for the historic Prime Ministers Avenue in the Ballarat botanical gardens in Victoria. Other commissioned portrait busts include Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and John Howard and Victorian Premier Dick Hamer.
He was also commissioned to make a bronze statue of Robert Clark, the founder of the Ballarat Courier. It stands at the end of the Prime Ministers Avenue.