Saturday, 21 July 2007


Christopher Noulton

My work is based on memories of growing up in 1960s Britain. The paintings feature many places and characters from my childhood. My paintings are acrylic on canvas and paper and the work starts life as a series of cardboard models dressed with Dinky/Matchbox cars and toy people which I photograph to establish a scene.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
... Mid 1960s, sat in front of the box watching Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. I fell in love with the spacecraft and characters and couldn't stop drawing them!

What place in the world has inspired you?.. Believe it or not, the London council estate where I grew up! It was the Lambeth Councils flagship estate where all the residents were chosen to represent a cross section of the community. The place felt like a little village complete with The Butcher, The Baker, The Mechanic, The Milkman, and my dad the Wholesale Tobbaconist! I still draw on many of the characters and situations I experienced there.

At age 15 who influenced your style? ... John Berry and other artists responsible for illustrating Ladybird books. How do you set about starting a new project? By casting my mind back to a childhood incident. I then build a quick cardboard model which I then dress and photograph to use as reference.

What do you have on your pinboard? A still from The Wicker Man (circa 1973,) A photo taken at Warners holiday camp when I was there as a child, a black and white photo of my tipsy mum and dad on there wedding day, and a picture of my Wire Haired Fox Terrier called Archie.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is a converted coffin store (great for atmosphere!) in Putney, south west London. It backs on to the old funeral parlour which is still open for business. Locking up when I work late is a bit creepy though. I share the place with three other artists and we all listen to our own radios which can get interesting! I have been there since 1982 when I hired the place to sculpt a huge Rhino for a Dutch feature film. Coincidently, all the body casts for the Tarzan movie- "Greystoke" were also made there.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
Yes I do have a good work/life balance although being an artist can be a curse as wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you always end up thinking about your current piece or the next in line.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?
... Blissfull!

Guilty secret?
Sneaking off to my favourite cafe for a cigar and coffee.... Listening to Abba really loud when everyones gone home!

Can anything be 'art'?
... I suppose anything can be art... after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc but for me there has to be a good measure of craftsmanship.

Christopher was born in London in 1961, and grew up on a diet of cult TV classics such as: The Prisoner, Dr Who, Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, and The Avengers, and from a young age he would often sit in front of the box, drawing his favorite TV heroes.

He left school at seventeen and started working in a commercial art studio. Whilst there he worked on many "Top Ten" album and single cover artworks for the following bands: The Police, Squeeze, Robert Fripp, Sham 69, The Jam, The Cure, and Roxy Music.

With a passion forged in the inferno of 1970s popular television and armed with his portfolio of paintings, set designs, models, and short films, he set out to find work in the industry. Having experienced life on the sets of: The Sweeney, Space 1999, Blake’s Seven, The New Avengers, and the James Bond movie: The Spy Who Loved Me, he finally landed a job at Shepperton Studios as a Special Effects Designer / Model Maker.

He worked on a string of award-winning animated TV commercials including: Quavers, Prize Guy Yoghurts, KP Nuts, and the famous PG Tips Chimpanzee adverts (live action.) He also worked on the highly successful children’s television series: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, where he built many of the characters, stations, and landscapes. His film work has included the designing and building of a massive aerial model of a small American town for the feature film: Amazing Grace and Chuck, directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter) and starring Gregory Peck. He then went on to co-write, design, and produce: Potamus Park for Carlton Television (at Pinewood Studios.)

During this time he also illustrated books and comics for many well known TV characters such as: Postman Pat, Rosie and Jim, Potamus Park and Tots TV.

Having achieved his childhood ambition of working in Television and film, he felt more and more compelled to return to his love of painting where he could express himself away from the time and budget constraints of his TV work. He now paints full time from his studio in Putney.

Christopher’s enigmatic paintings feature everyday scenes of both urban and country life but with a retrospective twist. He paints with a strong nostalgic feel for the past, and often features places and characters from his childhood. His current series of paintings are based on his memories of being a milk boy in the late 1960s and are full of amorous milkmen, bored housewives and local people who used to treat the milkman (with crates a-rattling) as their local hero!

Christopher spent twenty-five years working in the film and television industry and this has quite naturally influenced his work. As part of the picture making process, he photographs small cardboard models (complete with toy cars and people) to establish the scenes he has in mind. This process seems to imbue his pictures with a cinematic feel.

In a similar way to how a TV series is filmed, Christopher will create a story line, setting, and cast of characters, which he will use for the basis of a series of paintings. The finished work often looks like a sequence from a soap opera or kitchen sink drama!

With regard to his visual style, he draws inspiration from the commercial art of the 1960s, especially cigarette cards and Ladybird books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Christopher

I really love your work and I'd be interested in featuring it on my website Brighton POD.

Take a look and see what you think