We are always humbled to meet local artists’ and the #SpotlightOn feature is one of our favourite highlights of the month. For the first of our 2019 series, the January issue presents Nick Richards, local Sydenham artist and fellow Crystal Palace Park running pal. Rosanna Head
Tell us about your work?
I’m a painter of portraits, landscapes and urban scenes. I did an illustration degree originally, then about five years ago I started to create oil paintings after about a 30-year gap.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people and places and other artist’s work, for which I find Instagram a great resource. London itself is a constant inspiration, which is why I moved here 25 years ago – but originally north and then east before moving south of the river.
How long have you been part of the south east London community?
I’ve lived in Sydenham for six years now. I play a part in the community by painting local scenes including ones previously painted by Pissarro, the French Impressionist, and the dinosaurs in Crystal Place park. The Park used images of some of my paintings for Christmas cards I also donated one painting to a fundraising auction for the new Dino Bridge, to which Slash also donated a top hat. I’ve taken part in The Sydenham Arts Trail for several years, plus the Penge and Dulwich ones too. I have semi-permanent exhibitions of my work in the Bridge House pub as well as in the information centre in Crystal Palace Park.
What is a memorable piece of work for you?
The Bell Green gasholders. They are two Victorian gasholders next to the retail park at Bell Green and demolition of them was recently approved by Lewisham Council. There has a been a local campaign to save them over the last couple of years as SGN, the gas company that owns them wanted to demolish and sell the land to the developers. I did the painting of them last year when they were threatened but the final decision hadn’t yet been made. Some people think they’re an eyesore but I think they’re beautiful and part of our industrial heritage which gives character to the area. Even the Mayor of Lewisham wrote to SGN to see if they could be preserved. The Bell Green gasholders were locally listed in 2017 after a campaign to save them but unfortunately, this doesn’t actually mean much. Historic England, the body that does Grade listing to protect buildings, refused to list them.
Where are your favourite #SELondon spots?
My favourite SE London spots apart from Crystal Palace Park include Dulwich Park and Picture Gallery, Sydenham Hill Woods, Mayow Park and the Bell Green gasholders which tragically are about to be demolished!
And just for fun, who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guests?
*If you are a local artist and would like to apply to be featured in our 2019 #SpotlightOn Artist series please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.