NO.22 NIKKI GARDHAM: UP OUR STREET - 8 Holland Street's neighbours, near and far


The past is a foreign country and, yes, they do things differently there, but artist Nikki Gardham is comforted by that thought...

"We are trained as we grow," Nikki explains, "to look for a route that others have passed through before us." Her works on canvas and paper - now showing in our London and Bath galleries - with their amorphous figures are a reminder that, within our surroundings, we are merely one in a line of passers-by.


From her studio in the London Docklands, those that have come before are all around too. Originally built by Irish dockers settling in the area and later a school, its previous inhabitants are clear to see in pint-sized sinks and painted murals along the corridors. For Nikki, it provides ample space and, crucially, a place “to go and be, especially if other areas of life are challenging”.


The studio hums to the chitchat of the radio – inspired by the tales spun from folksongs by Shirley & Dolly Collins who, Nikki admits, gets her feeling enthused and tingly, “they’re painting a picture with their voices.” For Nikki narrative is, undoubtedly, an overriding theme in her canvases and works on paper. It may be implied by the wisp of a figure in the corner, or a faint path in the grass. We are seeing something transitory. The vistas may be inspired by different places, but the conditions are similar. “We went to the Himalayas and the hills and the valleys and the high, high horizons and massive sky, I suppose, reminded me of Wales!” Nikki seeks out the scars left by those who have come before, close to home in Epping Forest, where there are neolithic barrows which, she points out have seen thousands of years and will see thousands more years to come. “I think Grayson Perry said something like ‘you should go for the most difficult path’ but that’s just not human nature. Human nature is to seek other humans out - when I see a path in the woods I think, ‘oh, who has been here before?’”

Installation Views