Exhibition Statement – Nick Richards, July 2012
I am constantly influenced by my daily journeys along the river to and from my studio at the Thames Barrier. They often mirror the ebb and flow of the tide and regularly throw up new ideas and daydreams. These for the basis of much of the work in this exhibition. The loss of shipyards and wharves are contrasted with small pockets of working life on the river today. It could be the sand ships which you can hear over a mile away as they move with the tidal flow; or the James Prior imprisoned at low tide in Deptford Creek; or the tugs pushing or pulling cast engineless containers of rubbish or the turbulent Thames Clipper constantly ruining my reflections!
I am always attracted to the Old Naval College. As well as being infernally difficult to draw, I love its position on the river and its link with the past. Sitting at low tide drawing from the north bank, I was aware of Canaletto doing the same activity (albeit from two different perspectives) well over two centuries before.
In my studio I often study other artists. Piranesi is always cropping up and his compositions often inform my own. He teaches me to seek accuracy in my drawings so that I can them in my studio when making my paintings and etchings. I am pleased to be including some of them in this exhibition because they usually remain in the privacy of the studio.
I am often in Dorset, in particular sitting on top of my favourite hill, looking at Chesil Beach tapering away into the haze of the Isle of Portland. I have made many studies from this spot. The title of the etching is part of Shelley’s poem The Cloud:
I am the daughter of the Earth and Water
And the nursling of the sky,
I pass through pores of the ocean and shores
I change, but I cannot die…
Ferry Bridge on the causeway that narrowly joins Weymouth and Portland is another regular haunt in whatever weather but preferably on a still morning when the Fleet behind Chesil Beach has glass-like reflections. Divers are often emerging and submerging or walking along the spindly structures to their boats.
I find all of these influences constantly interesting. They keep throwing up new ideas and images. And the tides and the clouds keep coming and going.
I think I’d better get out there again.