Landscape Re-imagined by Nicky May

15 Jul 2015 – 10 Aug 2015

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The Jam Factory

Oxford, United Kingdom

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Artist from Cornwall hovering between figurative & abstract work.


My work hovers between the figurative and the abstract - the idea that you're free to choose the meaning of your work seems really profound to me. Freed from the way-marking of completely representational painting, abstract/subjective painting means for me that the subject material comes from an inner life, even if often sparked by, or abstracted from, a view or a detail from the landscape around me in North Cornwall. In this method, I feel immediately very much at home and at liberty to paint from the deepest part of me, and simultaneously am almost overwhelmed each time I approach a canvas.

I will often work on a series of sketches and studies to help me work out what its is that I have seen in the landscape that has excited my attention, before deciding which material and format will work best. Just as a completely figurative painter strives to be true to an objective reality, so in abstract/subjective painting I am all the time trying to be completely honest with myself about the colours, shapes and textures of paint I am laying down – whether they work, whether they feel right, and if when put together they “sing”.

Brief Biography

I have painted since I was small, but I started my career in the voluntary sector, including VSO in Papua New Guinea and Kenya. I worked in senior management for Oxfam, and in a series of voluntary organisations, as well as doing freelance work evaluating the effectiveness of development projects in Africa and Asia.

I turned seriously to painting in 1994. My formal art training was through the Open College of the Arts (courses in painting and drawing). I spent many years under the tutelage of Norman Rechter, a renowned European watercolourist. I also studied studio ceramics and still work as a potter alongside the painting.

I paint in watercolour, oils and acrylics, choosing the medium to suit the message. My work starts from landscape but leans towards the abstract.

I am a member of the Cornwall Watercolour Society, Bude Art Society, East Cornwall Society of Artists and the Cornwall Ceramics and Glass Group. I have shown work in galleries and exhibitions through the South west and in Oxford and London.


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Nicky May


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