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  • James Stewart

Lockdown Escape: Nick Carrick

This month we present recent paintings by Sussex based artist Nick Carrick in a virtual exhibition.

Lockdown has seen a surge in reading; fiction sales have increased by a third with sales of children's books increasing by much more. For Nick Carrick lockdown has also provided the opportunity to walk and cycle more on the Downs as well as catch up on reading some philosophy: "Walking" by Henry David Thoreau, "Wanderlust" by Rebecca Solnit.

Walking is a short essay about the author's joy in living in nature and in the present. Published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and vital to any appreciation of the great man's work, Thoreau explores:

• the joys and necessities of long afternoon walks;

• how spending time in untrammeled fields and woods soothes the spirit;

• how Nature guides us on our walks;

• the lure of the wild for writers and artists;

• why "all good things are wild and free,".

Wanderlust (A Love Affair with Five Continents) spans 15 years of travel, beginning when the subject was a sophomore in college. The book documents Elisabeth Eaves's insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people and cultures.

These themes and more are present in these ten paintings by Nick Carrick.

In discussing the works with the artist, recurring thoughts of escapism, sanctuary, reconnecting with other cultures and nature contrasted with claustrophobia in the city/home come up repeatedly.

In some works Carrick melds two different places, home/studio/work in Sussex and Spain, which for him is a place of recreation as well as a source of imagery in his paintings.

In other paintings he takes the source material, an image of place, but then alters and abstracts the scene to achieve his objective. The alteration could be a change to the form, but also in the way the paint is rubbed, sanded or bleached away.


See the paintings below, with some accompanying text.

Click on an image to see them all in a larger 'gallery view'.

"Sheltering from the Sun"

oil on linen, 160 x 120 cm


Looking through trees in dappled shade, one can see the Montgo Park in the distance. This is an area of 2117 hectares, located between Dénia and Xàbia, home to more than 650 species of flora & vegetation. A sanctuary in other words.

This is one painting from a series, over a number of years, showing trees, paths and mountains, with recurring motifs.

For the artist the pockets of shade provide shelter from the UK, an escape disconnected from life at home, a chance to reconnecting with nature: Sanctuary.

"Leaving the City"

oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm


Three Cornered Copse is a triangle of partly wooded downland that separates several residential streets. It steadily climbs the northern slope of the Goldstone Valley, forming a woodland corridor from Hove Park to the South Downs National Park.

Although this is home for Nick Carrick, he has painted the scene as if it were Spain; melding home with Spanish memories. The painting is thus pure escapism: imagining blue sky in Spain.

The city in the distance is seen as related to 'hum drum', work, claustrophobic, whereas the walk out of town provides sanctuary, particularly in lockdown. Even small walks provide a chance to get perspective.

"Base Camp"

oil on linen, 140 x 100 cm


This painting is more an experiment with tones and limited palette but retaining form & texture rather than a realistic use of colour: It is a fantasy piece.

Although it does snow in Spain, it is rare and so here Nick Carrick is reimagining the Spanish landscape in snow, taken from many other paintings, inspired also by recent photos of snow up north, in his original home in South Lincolnshire.


oil on linen, 60 x 80 cm


This painting was inspired by cycle ride up the Shoreham Estuary up to Partridge Green. It started from a realistic sketch but then becomes more abstract. The bisecting horizontal line separates the real from more imagined.

As the title hints, this is also a painting about self reflection, introspection.

The clever use of unbleached titanium white, a pale beige, brings a different mood. This paler set of colours contrast with the very bright paintings from Spain, that for the artist had become unreal.

"Golf Course Abstraction"

oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm


This is Devils Dyke golf course, where Constable also walked & painted.

Here Carrick is playing around with perspective: The paintings is quite flat, but lines take you in and out.

The parallel lines are from lawn mower as if they making the marks, drawing with the mower.

A modern take on what the landscape has become, sculpted by humans.

"Morning Sun"

oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm


This painting expresses the feeling of waking up early, light shining on buildings, colour taken out of context, half abstract/half real.

Here Carrick is inspired by Edvard Munch's vast 1909 mural in Oslo University Assembly Hall, "The Sun".

In both works the sun's light expands to fill the whole landscape, lighting up as far as the eye can see.

It is a new day, new dawn but also repeated everyday.

"Winter Colony"

oil on linen, 60 x 80 cm


As with 'Base Camp' above, Nick Carrick is looking at the mountains, but wanted to record the snow, and return to the theme, inspired by Peter Doig's ice skating painting, also works by Canadian artist David Milne.

Here Carrick, being economical with colour, presents a contrast between the white snow, black buildings & pink roads.

"Shooting Star"

oil on linen, 70 x 90 cm


This work is inspired by camping in West Wittering, Sussex and seeing nocturnal illuminations,

Here Nick carrick has rubbed away the rough undercoat emphasising abstract shapes of tents lit up at night.

See also: Nick Carrick's 2015 painting "Night Shift", selected by Tom Hammick for the Towner Gallery Exhibition "Towards Night" alongside works by Peter Doig, Julian Opie, Ken Kiff, Craigie Aitchison & many other established artists.

"Divided Land"

oil on linen, 160 x 120 cm


In the distance here we can see the verdant green mountains, pines.

However getting there is not possible across the oranger groves, farmed, private areas in the foreground.

The painting represents division in farmland, privacy, public paths, and not being able to walk where you might want to,

As in Sussex, fenced areas, you are never far from human intervention on the landscape.

"Blossom Trail"

oil on linen, 40 x 50 cm


An optimistic painting: Blossoms are symbolic of new beginnings, Spring, a new chapter.

The trail up the valley could be symbolic of our progress through life, is it a mid-life crisis?

In this painting Carrick use colours to play with perspective, creating an echo chamber, recurring motifs from his prior work, memories.

For, Nick Carrick Spain is a metaphor for escape, leading to something, blossom represents something positive, recognisable and pleasant - light at the end of the tunnel.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about these paintings, or arrange a viewing (Covid safety concerns allowing)


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