Born in Christchurch in 1948, Neil holds a Diploma of Fine Arts (Hons) from Canterbury University and a Graduate Diploma in Sculpture from the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. Since his earliest installation in 1979 for the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Seascape, he has gone on to compile an impressive portfolio of works held both in New Zealand and overseas.
Neil's career, to date, has focused on the production of large-scale, and site-specific, sculptures in New Zealand, Australia and Asia. He is best known for his suspended sculptures, the first of which was Echo in 1981. In 1989, he created his first suspended sphere, Globe, for the exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Neil went on to use the basic form of the suspended sphere in several more works, most notably Ferns, installed in Wellington's Civic Square in 1998 as one of his now five suspended sculptures in the capital. He was also commissioned by the Olympic Co-ordination Authority to produce an artwork for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the result of which was Feathers and Skies, situated above the main entrance to Stadium Australia. In his hometown of Christchurch he is perhaps best known for Chalice, an 18m-high conical structure installed in Cathedral Square in 2001.
Neil was the recipient of an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2003. The Laureate Award is an investment in excellence across a range of art forms for an artist with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth. Their work is rich but their richest work still lies ahead of them. The Award recognises a moment in the artists' career that will allow them to have their next great success.
In 2005 and 2006 Neil completed his first major outdoor works in the United Kingdom with the installation of Raindrops and Wellsphere in Manchester. In recent years Neil has returned to making smaller scale works.
In 2011 Neil completed his first major outdoor work in mainland China, Feather from Afar, in Pudong Shanghai,.
He is currently working on 2 major works for Christchurch in 2014 - Spire in Latimer Square and Fanfare, a relocated 20 meter diameter sphere which is to be installed near the Northern Motorway. The work was first installed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for New Year 2004/05 and has been donated to Chistchurch.