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Nicholas Borden, Artist

January 20, 2013
by the gentle author

I came across Nicholas Borden standing with his easel in the cold, painting on the corner of Three Colts Lane before Christmas and, even at first glance, I was captivated by his work. But I was unable to speak with him since he was already getting his ear bent by a passing cyclist. Instead, Nicholas handed me one of his cards in gracious response to the brief compliment I was able to interject.

The afternoon light was fading fast as I continued on my way, considering the frustration of the landscape painter on the street, subject to constant distraction from idle passersby. Yet when I visited his studio recently, Nicholas admitted that he enjoys the interruptions.“It’s good to be in the open air and interacting with people.” he enthused, “They see what you are doing and they come and start talking to you – people are very flattering.”

He showed me the series of bold panoramic paintings he has been working on which, in their unusual broad proportion, evoke those early renaissance pictures created to adorn marriage chests by artists such as Uccello and Botticelli. Employing vibrant colours and dynamic compositions, Nicholas’ paintings manifest the spontaneous life of the East End streets with painterly ease, delighting in the quirky geometry and the curious divergent perspectives of familiar locations.

“Since I left college, I think I was lost for a couple of years but now I feel I am at a very creative stage – part of this has come from working on location,” he declared in excitement, as he showed me the works he has created in the past eighteen months, “I’ve got several easels and I carry my backpack and portfolio. I’m quite hardy so I can withstand most weather, I’m an outdoors person.”

Originally from the West Country, Nicholas came to London to study Graphics at St Martins College of Art and then Communications at the Royal College of Art, and he recalls the first time he visited the East End. “I remember coming to a party on Brick Lane, it was quite an eye-opener to a boy from Devon – certainly different and exciting, I suppose.” he confided, “And this has been the area of London I have always come back to.” After graduation Nicholas returned to Devon and he took jobs in factories and warehouses, without making any art for several years. “I gave it up,” he confessed with frown of regret, withdrawing into himself, “Then I had my car stolen and the people who took it broke into my flat when I was there, that was a real low point for me.”

Coming back to live with his brother in the East End, Nicholas started making pictures again. “I returned to the kind of work I did as a teenager, doing line drawings,” he explained modestly, revealing how he liberated himself from the problematic experience of his college education and regained emotional possession of his artistic endeavours by picking up a personal thread.

Of course, there is a sophisticated technique that belies itself in these elegant pictures, but more significantly there is a joy in the medium that grants them an immediate appeal. “This is a re-invention, I feel I have completely transformed myself,” Nicholas assured me, surprised at his own words.

Even though he has not yet shown any of these pictures or had an exhibition, I know you will be seeing more of the work of Nicholas Borden. But in the meantime, if you spot him on a street corner in the East End, you are licensed to go up and say, “hello.”

Three Colts Lane (click to enlarge)

Middleton Rd, Dalston  (click to enlarge)

Blackfriars (click to enlarge)

Wick Rd, Hackney

Regent’s Canal next to Victoria Park

Dalston Junction

Victoria Park

Cavendish Mansions, Clerkenwell Rd

Regent’s Canal at Mare St

Earnshaw  St, High Holborn

Whitechapel from the roof of the Idea Store

Images copyright © Nicholas Borden

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Hari from Canada permalink
    January 20, 2013

    Beautiful….

  2. January 20, 2013

    I was relaxing in The Fox in the warm while he was doing that painting of Middleton Road in the cold. Seriously admiring his dedication. Great to see more work.

  3. January 20, 2013

    it can take a long time to get art college out of the system and back on track to what you really are about. the work is looking great Nicholas and I look forward to seeing it’s development, no doubt GA will keep us informed.

  4. Vicky permalink
    January 20, 2013

    There’s an energy about these pictures which I really like

  5. Sue permalink
    January 20, 2013

    Beautiful and sensitive work

  6. Per Wångstedt permalink
    January 20, 2013

    Great work!

  7. Claire Runacre permalink
    January 20, 2013

    Nick’s brother is – I believe – renowned photographer Harry Borden. I’ve seen his work in the National and followed his career for many years. His sister Frances is also an astounding painter, and won the BP portrait award more than once. Amazing how talent like this runs in families sometimes!

  8. annie permalink
    January 20, 2013

    Lovely pictures, I really like the style.

  9. January 20, 2013

    I particularly like the line drawings. More, please, sometime soon!

  10. Donald Carlton Burns permalink
    January 20, 2013

    His invigorating use of vibrant colour brings life to scenes that might otherwise be emotionally grey. Great feeling of place.

  11. January 20, 2013

    ohhh i love them, remind me of raoul dufy.

  12. January 22, 2013

    Thanks for this. Do you know where someone not signed up to Facebook might see more of this work?

  13. Libby Hall permalink
    January 24, 2013

    The painting of Middleton Road is done from a position just left of where Tony’s photograph of Middleton Road was taken. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/01/24/tony-halls-east-end-panoramas/

    I felt a frisson of recognition when I first saw Borden’s fine panoramic paintings – they are so like Tony’s photographs in the same shape.

    I know Tony would have enjoyed all these paintings, and the drawings, as much as I do.

  14. April 7, 2013

    Wonderful colour, full of character and life.

  15. Miriam Delorie permalink
    April 7, 2013

    Absolutely beautiful pictures which look as though people and buildings have been frozen in the middle of their day to day activities. thank you

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