Nigel Shipley


My method of working is to follow my instinct, to be intuitive and not try to communicate an idea about a social issue but to celebrate beauty.  I work on many paintings at a time.  Making marks, leaving the paint to dry and then coming back to look at it afresh and deciding want feels to be the correct next move.  At some point I either decide that it is finished or throw it away as a painting that did not work but from which I learnt something.  


I am inspired by the black paintings of Pierre Soularges, the squeegee paintings of Gerhard Richter, and abstract expressionist paintings.  The work of musician and sound artists such as Tim Hecker, Nils Frahm and Fennes are also important starting points for my paintings.  I use some of the elements of Japanese prints such as gradients in the background, large areas of flat colour and calligraphy.


These are some of the elements that I use to create my tactile paintings which capture a feeling, mood, or emotion:


  • I love controlled accidents.  By painting a thin wash of oil paint over a white base of water based acrylic paint, the oil and the water may react and create natural patterns that reflect those in nature.  These patterns can have an infinite complexity that it would be impossible to design, and mirror the patterns found when frost settles on an icy winter’s window, or the cracks of a dry muddy river bed.  Scraping wet paint with a squeegee can also create similar accidental textures or rhythms that reflect nature.  


  • Bitumen paint is made to repair a leaking roof. It is dreadful stuff to work with, sticky, stinking and as black as can be. It is like the dregs of a barrel of crude oil, but when dried on a painting it can be a sublime, rich, and deep black.  Pure black like Japanese lacquer, but with a velvety softness.


  • I can make a simple mould out of clay and melt metal* to cast silvery pieces to embed into bitumen.  Black and silver challenging each other like yin and yang.  


  • Oil paint applied in a thin wash over a pure white base acts like a sheet of coloured glass through which light passes and reflects back off the white base.  This can illuminate the colour from behind and make it glow.  


*solder which is mostly tin which will not tarnish        




1973 - 74 - Harrow School of Art, Fine Art Foundation

1974 - 77 -  Norwich School of Art, Fine Art BA


Recent exhibitions:

- October 2016 HOURS gallery, Bristol (

- April 2017 Bath Art Fair

- Septemebr 2017 Other Art Fair, Bristol

- October 2017 RWA Open exhibition - selected

- July 2018 Other Art Fair, Bristol

- October 2018 HOURS Gallery Bristol

- April May 2019, Glitch Bristol

- Ongoing, Lowlands 72 Colston Street, Bristol.

- April 2019 - Royal West Of England (RWA) biennial Friends Exhibition - three paintings selected.