Atkin trained as a Painter at Leicester Polytechnic (1978 – 1981) before embarking on a 3-year MA in Sculpture at the RCA (1982 -1985). At this time the Sculpture School was located in South Kensington, adjacent to the Natural History Museum, V&A, and Science Museum. The spacious studio accommodation for 5 or 6 students in each year group housed in black prefabricated huts, architecturally awry with the grandiose architecture of Queens Gate SW7.
The landscape of his native heath in Teesdale (Co, Durham) was the focus for much of his early inspiration, alongside the industrial interface between the land and the sea in the North East of England. His early work charted journeys throughout this landscape, capturing the transformational qualities of seasons, and particularly snowfall, which altered & simplified the rural landscape in and around Barnard Castle into a tapestry of shapes and planes, challenging the viewers perspective of a seemingly infinite landscape delineated by drystone walls and field boundaries that characterised much of this region known as the Land of the Prince Bishops.
The seeds of his new Vanishing Point series of wall-based artworks are evident in those very early works where he explored spatial form and separation of picture planes. His early influences such as Frank Stella (Exotic Birds) and Richard Diebenkorn (Ocean Park), as well as Mondrian’s drawings of trees are discernable in the Vanishing Point series of artworks. However, he has now deployed a distinct physicality to the artworks through the use of collage alongside materials such as Perspex. His use of digital media together with traditional methods of practice has permitted an experimental approach to the application of colour and form, used in preparatory drawing and prints.
The notion of landscape is palpable in the Vanishing Point series of artworks, and although they are not studies of specific locations, they are a distillation of memories associated with landscape which continues to influence his studio practice.