Artist Nigel Cooke is a city slicker

Artist Nigel Cooke is a city slicker

The Artmarket gallery is delighted to welcome to its stable of artists West Yorkshire-based Nigel Cooke, whose glorious cityscapes have been inspired by years of travel.

Born in Mirfield, near Dewsbury, Nigel was a talented artist from an early age – he sold his first painting at the age of 14. But after leaving school he joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world.

“In recent years I’ve visited many of the cities I’m now known for painting – London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York – to take photographs and work out my perspectives,” he says. “But I’d travelled pretty widely before that, and that’s had a real influence on my current work.”

After leaving the Merchant Navy, Nigel discovered he had a considerable talent for caricatures – he joined holiday camp kings Butlins as a resident caricaturist in the early 90s. But a subsequent trip to Florida proved life-changing when he came across caricature booths, which were unknown in this country at the time. He came home and set up a business, opening the first ever caricature booths in the UK at theme park Alton Towers, on Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach and piers, and in Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

“I developed a specific style of caricature, and then trained up other artists to use it – there might be four artists working away in a single booth at any one time,” he explains. “It was a big business.

“After 20 years, I was fed up – I really wanted to be a fine artist – and I sold the business. I’d done thousands and thousands of caricatures and got so slick and quick at it that I was also working on character design for a company in Hong Kong that made toys and novelty items.

“But as soon as I started to paint as I wanted, about 10 years ago, the paintings started to sell. Now I paint for myself, doing what I want to do – big, beautiful, fine art paintings.”

These days, Nigel works from his studio in Holmfirth and has developed his own style using mixed media acrylics and a drip technique to finish them that he likens to that of Jackson Pollock.

“I can paint anything you like – figurative, marine paintings, landscapes – you name it,” he says. “But there’s a huge demand for my cityscapes – as soon as I paint them, they sell!”

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