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Nicky Belton

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Cats, teddy bears, handbags, shoes, furniture, bodices. That’s a right mix of artistic subject matter by anyone’s standards we would have thought, yet one which sums up acclaimed contemporary cat, teddy bear, handbag, shoe, furniture and bodice (antique, mind) artist, Nicky Belton to the proverbial ‘T’. Belton’s limited edition art print collection, as well as her original compositional offerings are unequivocally inspired by her background in textile and fashion design. Why even her highly textured handmade papers hark back to textured fabric days of yore it would appear. As are the vivaciously coloured inks she insists on employing in her stand-out, hallmark pieces which have gotten a lot of people chatting in recent times. Notably fine art fans and seasoned collectors keen to champion the next big thing. With regards to the inks, Belton allows these to bleed into the surface paper in a manner said to be reminiscent of fabric painting.

Graduating from the Winchester School of Art in 1991, Belton chose to start her creative career as a milliner. Or a hat maker to the rest of us. She soon became something of a unique design authority in this field and quickly built a loyal and sizeable client base for her endeavours, comprising both private buyers with an eye for a good titfer and established agencies and retail establishments keen to ‘buy in’ as it were. But by 1997 Belton’s passion for the hats flagged as she instead took more than a passing interest in two brand new, yet equally as creatively taxing/rewarding business frames; those of fine art painting and interiors. Courtesy of her (still) loyal client base and humongous book of contacts constructed from her previous guise, Belton found a ready audience for her new travails and labours of love; and with this accumulative encouragement soon decided to focus almost entirely on the more 2D creative odyssey going forward.

Belton lives life to the full when she’s not concentrating on her art, and the pursuits that she regularly throws herself into also inspire her future creativity too. From animals and the great outdoors to fashion and beyond (as Buzz Lightyear never uttered), Belton sources inspiration from it all. A genuine outdoorsy type person, Belton loves mountain biking, snowboarding and hiking, all of which as you might imagine have brought her into close proximity with some quite spectacular scenery on many an occasion. In fact, such typical destinations where one would indulge in such pastimes and sporting pursuits is wholly responsible for Belton’s most recent creative foray; a breath-taking set of seascapes delivered care of wood and canvas. Billed as both bold and imaginative, Belton adds a range of iridescent paints to the acrylics, altering the effect of each piece; as the light changes the image seems to fade along with the day.

Speaking of her inspirations and muses, Belton affords us the following insight into her though processes and approach to her art by saying; “I have many passions, which are as varied as life. They include animals, fashion, the great outdoors... all these things have inspired me to paint”, before adding; “I also love to travel, both for the sheer pleasure of seeing the world and for the opportunity to store up ideas for my next set of paintings! I often feel that rather than me choosing a subject, it chooses me through my own emotional response to something. I may be laughing at a funny face, feeling becalmed by a beautiful sky, or experiencing excitement looking in a shoe shop window...!”

In terms of the aforementioned admissions, Belton has constantly got her sketchbook close to hand, pre-empting the next time she’ll need to note something down is just around the corner. And alongside that sketchbook there’s also the trusty camera, as a back-up storage device which allows her to capture an altogether different and alternative elevation or visual viewpoint on a certain something which she fervently believes will translate into something compositionally sublime at a latter, studio date. These recording devices and mechanisms ensure that Belton can be taken back to a specific time and place where she first observed the element that inspired her so.

Historic inspiration comes courtesy of Belton’s granddad, who she describes as always having drawn pictures to amuse her as a child, whilst also being in awe of her uncle, who himself is a practising artist in his own right. According to Belton these two prominent figures remain the strongest and most heightened of personal influences on the work that she produces today. Naturally she also insists that she long-admired a number of famous artists, although declined to comment as to which and when, suffice to say, subconsciously she has hitherto appreciated and taken on board many styles and movements over the years. Ultimately, Belton decrees that; “I am thrilled to be able to put a smile on someone else’s face through my art!” And that’s quite the legacy that any artist would strive to achieve.