There are no sitters or views behind the PORTRAITS, FIGURES and 'FOUND' LANDSCAPES in Nick's most recent series of paintings; instead, they combine the work of old masters, children in art lessons and drawings he did at art school. This attempt to revive and reinvent familiar genres in a contemporary context is a departure from his previous work, in which text and image give clues to a life spent listening, looking and thinking.
Nick's painting process begins with images printed or drawn on an acetate sheet. He projects these using an OHP and paint directly onto canvas using acrylics and emulsions for their fast-drying properties.
A parallel series of constructions mixes similar sources in freer and more flexible arrangements.
There are things in this painting that play with words (we had a magnetic alphabet that we used to make nonsense sentences on the fridge door, for instance), take me to different places and times (Helen and I have been to Tecopa Hot Springs), and contain many references to art lessons I’ve taught in different schools. I hope, for everyone else, this picture’s a good strong colour, looks funny/peculiar, and exercises a bit of imagination.
Doing Nothing But Ageing
I always reckon to enter the Ruth Borchard self-portrait competition when it comes round. Last year I had the bright idea of including 14 portraits selected from different ages and stages, going back to my teenage years. Ruth Borchard liked it, and included it in their exhibition at King’s Place in London.
In Bad Company
Here I’m matching two halves which look as though they might belong together, when they actually come from completely different sources. The upper half is intended to be a scene from a Western, which justifies the title. The bottom is a small section of the last supper by Caravaggio, re-drawn by a pupil.
5th of November
This just happens to be my birthday, so I’ve always felt myself to be a bit of a stuffed effigy come to life. What’s more, there’s always fireworks to celebrate it.
It’d be something to own Picasso’s chair, but I don’t. This must be Picasso’s studio if the chair’s his - I bet he had lots of easels like these. I don’t. We’ve popped in at elevenses - coffee time. I see he had a cup just like mine.
Henderson The Rain King
Saul Bellow, who wrote the book of the title, takes his American character to deepest, darkest Africa, where his differences apparently give him special powers. They lead to adventures, discoveries and tests of his ingenuity. John Wayne is my casting for a big-screen version, and in it, Bellow’s parched landscape is replaced with a leafy paradise - Henderson’s made it rain. I’m sure you’ll be familiar with this bit of my proposed soundtrack. I found out much later that Saul Bellow never visited Africa
Lucky Black Cat
I painted this for all cat-lovers and soothsayers. You may well see a similar chair elsewhere, which is, indeed, another of Picasso’s.
Lost In Translation
Sophia Coppola (daughter of Francis - he of ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’) made the film of this name, with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. It was based in Japan. As the title suggests, there is ample scope for misunderstandings and mishaps. I hope my painting conveys some of the mash-ups it leads to.
Virtually anything you’re good at can be considered art these days. You, the viewer, are free to make up your own mind what to include. These are some things you might consider.
The elements provided by small children and pupils from the various places I’ve taught are pretty self-evident here - I added Sigmund Freud for a little gravitas. I thought that if I included as many things as possible, it might reflect this age of information overload.
Magritte's Table An assembly hastily thrown together, apparently for my final MA assessment at Sunderland University in 2003, to judge from the setting. I’ve imagined a glorious future for it which is there at the bottom. This little painting was accepted for an exhibition at the Mall Gallery (just along from Buckingham Palace) in 2019, which was pleasing.