I grew up in a place called the Isle of Wight, England.

This is something important for me, as a person, as an artist.

I grew up wild, salt water in the veins. There were woods and forests of old trees contorted by the winds, hills of heather and gorse interspersed with clearings of flint where arrow heads could be found, tombs and standing stones, traces of the past from the prehistoric and to Roman ruins, hidden rocky coves, empty beaches with crumbling cliffs, fossils and dinosaur bones, fading Victorian grandeur.

 At home I was in the midst of creativity; my other delving into water colours, her brother a potter and furniture maker, my father’s brother an illustrator and a great uncle artist and illustrator with the Royal family as patron and head of the Kinston School of Art in London.

After school on the Island I went off to Manchester to study for a degree in Art and Textile design. At the end of the first year I risked being kicked off the course. I was set the task of creating something surprising for my lecturers to allow me to be readmitted after the summer. Back on the Island I started painting my surroundings, my special places. I sat in my woods, in fields of corn, on the top the downs and on my wild beaches and I fell in love; not with the places already part of my soul, but with the gesture of painting, the attempt to register the sensations and the beauty of those places on a piece of paper. I was readmitted to the course.

I came to Italy after my degree in the summer of 1990. I’d already travelled here to ski in the winter, and with my mind whilst loosing myself in the British Museum amongst the magnificence of ancient Greek and Roman art.

 I liked Italy and stayed; the history and the art, the sunshine, the food and the perception of being in a place surrounded by beauty. I’ve travelled the world working in the fashion industry. In every city I’d visit the museums in Winter, the beaches in Summer.

Painting has always been my space; a safe haven. It gives me energy, like an outburst, liberating, like magic from my hands.

I’ve never been far from the wild. I live at the side of a Roman road that meanders into the woods above the coast of Lake Como. The woods and the water in the pools and the great lake are a sanctuary. I feel the presences of spirits in those places, the old Gods, feel the energy of nature, the roots of everything, the echo of time…and I paint it, paint them, portray their faces, loosing myself in their essences.  

I was born breathing art. Growing up I developed a particular passion for fashion and when I joined my fashion design degree course I was lucky enough to meet a man with whom I share my passions, so much so that he teaches them.

I now want to talk about Nigel the Artist, the less academic one, leaving aside the professor for the wilder man.

If there is something above all the rest that Nigel has communicated to me during the hours of graphics and design passed with him, apart from the difference between an all over design and a placement…, it’s how important the connection to the wild that’s inside us is: a world that we tend to ignore or hide

for fear of it, maybe because we’re un comfortable with it and that we’ve begun to forget, which, in reality is what we were created from.

Nigel the artist – who never stops teaching – is a narrator of a primordial connection, unaltered and uncontaminated by the modern world and the big city, with a wild world, expression of nature in the purest form. His paintings speak of antique beauty, archaic, Hellenic, painted with passion and transience, depicted with so much emotion that they become palpable, real, concrete. 

Ancient forests, romantic and magic places that seem almost abstract are in reality prospective studies of his ancestral visions that, seen through his deep and loving artistic sensibility for his surroundings are painted and presented in their original form: the wild one.

Riccardo Contini