Nigel trained in Art in the 1970's at Ripon Teacher Training College under two inspiring tutors; the painter Peter Sarginson, and ceramicist Victor Priem. His studio is in Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast. He has have been working full time as an artist since moving here in 2008. In 2010 he set up Prospect Studios, an artist's co-operative sharing studio spaces in unused commercial premises. It was an exciting and productive time for them all, however they have since gone our separate ways. For most of Nigel's working life he has been an art teacher, and a part-time artist, he now he enjoys devoting all of this time to his love of painting.
Vicky: Please tell us what best describes your work & what you do?
Nigel: I am interested in making images that are visually striking but which don’t give up all their secrets at once. The response that would most please me would be if someone were to look at my work and think “That looks fantastic – but what is it?” That’s when the interesting part happens, when someone is engaging with an image and trying to find out what it is about, what it means.
Everyone will have their own answers to those questions which may not be the same as mine – but that’s ok. That’s what makes the work live and keep on living.
My work often looks quite abstract, because of the emphasis I put on the relationship between colours, shapes, textures etc. But for myself, I don’t make much of the differences between categories like “Abstract” or “Representational”. The images in some of my most abstract looking work are often derived in a roundabout way from things observed in the “real” world.
I usually work in groups or series of paintings exploring variations of an initial idea or starting point.
Vicky: Have you always been an artist?
Nigel: Well everyone starts drawing at a very early age, so I suppose like everyone else I have been a kind of artist since before I could talk.
I quite liked art at school, but I think the best work of art I did then was a very detailed observational drawing of a beetle which I did in a Biology lesson, so I thought it was Science not art.
I first started to think of myself as an artist when I was studying art at teacher training college. Our tutor, a potter and ceramic sculptor called Victor Priem, was inspirational. He engaged with us as if we were fellow artists even though we were just students. He always took our ideas seriously and worked with us to develop them, so that by the end of the course we thought of ourselves not as teachers who did a bit of art, but as artists who were also teachers.
Vicky: What tool could you not live without?
Nigel: Being a painter the obvious answer is “a paintbrush”. But I can do most things a paintbrush can do using my fingers. However, you can’t hang the paintings up without ... a hammer!
Vicky: What piece of work have you produced that has been the most challenging?
Nigel: I can’t think of any specific examples, but painting can be quite physically demanding and that can be challenging, but I guess that’s like any job – you get tired, you get headaches, stiff shoulders, bad backs – it’s just life.
Another challenge can be avoiding distractions. The world is so full of fascinating subjects for artworks, that it needs a lot of discipline to stick with one idea, when a hundred other ideas are banging on the studio door demanding to be let in.
Vicky: Please tell us what “Street Art” means to you?
Nigel: In general I guess “Street Art” conjures up the idea of graffiti artists. But the work I put in for this show is very much my own individual interpretation of the phrase. I have been fascinated by the “Sign Language” used by road menders – symbols and words spray painted onto pavements and roads in preparation for repairs and roadworks. It’s often quite enigmatic, like a secret language that you can’t quite understand unless you are “in the know”. So I walked around the streets taking photographs of these symbols and have used these to produce a still ongoing series of paintings.
Vicky: What inspires you?
Nigel: Prehistoric carvings, street signs, the sea, maps, the earth from space, the human face, squares & circles, colour, trees...
Vicky: Is there a particular artist or style that has influenced you?
Nigel:I think every artist you see moves you in one direction or another. Here’s a list of some that spring to mind at the moment. Rembrandt, Bonnard, Matisse’s cut-outs, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Paul Klee, Van Gogh, Howard Hodgkin, Alan Davie, Giotto ...
Vicky: What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Nigel: It’s like creating another world – just magic
Vicky: What advice would you give to other creatives?
Nigel: Keep busy – the world needs you.
You can keep updated with more of Nigel's work following the links below: