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From Hull, London, Amsterdam, Paris and New York – Nigel Cooke just loves cities, wherever they are in the world.

Nigel Cooke London artwork

The well-travelled artist uses his experiences to create atmospheric cityscapes which have earned him a reputation – in the words of his local newspaper – as ‘the most in-demand artist you’ve never heard of’.
The well-traveled artist uses his experiences to create atmospheric cityscapes which have earned him a reputation – in the words of his local newspaper – as ‘the most in-demand artist you’ve never heard of’. Nigel’s energetic and evocative portraits of the built environment are created in mixed media acrylics on board or aluminium and finished with a drip technique similar to that used by Jackson Pollock.

Every piece available at the Artmarket Gallery is an original – no prints. But, as Artmarket director Robert Power points out, they’re extremely affordable originals, with prices starting around the £600 mark. Born in Mirfield, near Dewsbury, Nigel’s talent became evident at an early age – he was just 14 when he sold his first painting.

But, as so often happens, the practicalities of life got in the way of artistic ambition, and after leaving the school he joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world. “In recent years I’ve visited many of the cities I’m now known for painting – London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York – to take photographs and work out perspectives,” he says. “But I’d travelled pretty widely before that, and that’s had a real influence on my current work.” After leaving the Merchant Navy, Nigel at first earned a living using his considerable talent for caricatures – he joined holiday camp kings Butlins as a resident caricaturist in the early 90s, and reckons he’s created at least 50,000.

Nigel Cooke London artwork


But a trip to Florida proved life-changing when he came across caricature booths, unknown in this country at the time. On his return to the UK, he opened caricature concessions on Blackpool’s Central Pier and Pleasure Beach, in the Trafford Centre in Manchester and at Alton Towers, tucking well over 10,000 hours of live drawing and painting under his belt. “I developed a specific style, and then trained up other artists to use it – there might be four artists working away in a single booth at any one time,” he explains. “It was a big business.

“But after 20 years, I was fed up – I really wanted to be a fine artist – so I sold the business. I’d done thousands and thousands of caricatures and got so slick and quick at it that I was also working on character design for a company in Hong Kong that made toys and novelty items. “But as soon as I started to paint as I wanted, about ten years ago, the paintings started to sell. Now I paint for myself, doing what I want to do – big, beautiful, fine art paintings".

These days, Nigel works from his studio in Holmfirth and says: “I can paint anything you like – figurative, marine paintings, landscapes – you name it. But there’s such a huge demand for my cityscapes – as soon as I paint them, they sell!”