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Artist Nick Botting’s brush with Chapel Market authorities

Man who creates vivid portraits of London life tells how he was told to pack up his paintbox at Chapel Market

13 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

‘The Theatre Pub’, by Nick Botting – the Islington artist says he spends time observing how people ‘interact with one another’

NICK Botting has painted some of the capital’s most glamorous locales, happily getting his brushes out in The Wolseley or the streets of Chelsea without any trouble.

But, bizarrely, it’s around Islington institution Chapel Market where the artist has been told to pack up his paintbox.

Not that it’s stopped Mr Botting producing another vivid slice of London life in his paintings, many of which are featured in his latest exhibition, Colours of Summer.

Artist Nick Botting

“I’ve learned not to ask before getting my paints out,” said the artist, who has lived in Angel for the past 15 years. “In The Wolseley there’s a ‘no photography’ sign, but I just get my paintbox out and most people are happy with me doing it. But in Chapel Market someone came up to me and asked me to pay for a pitch. I couldn’t believe it! Well I just carried on – they could hardly drag me away.”

Not that he holds a grudge.

“Exmouth Market does something different, but I like the traditional feel of Chapel Market, the sense of community and place,” said Mr Botting.

‘The Musicians’, by Nick Botting

His latest exhibition gets under way on Thursday at the Portland Gallery. It features a host of Islington scenes, from lively musicians in The Alma pub, to the stillness of Regent’s Canal viewed from among the trees.

A stone’s throw from his home, Mr Botting’s paintings of the canal recall Walter Sickert’s ‘The Hanging Gardens of Islington’, also painted from among the trees.

“I love the quiet escapism of the canal,” he said. “I like the space, light and natural elements – it’s the same reason I paint near the Thames. I love the idea of painting somewhere that has barely changed over hundreds of years.”

Mr Botting’s ‘Summer Colours’

But it’s still people watching, or rather, something more focused, that produce the intimate portraits of London life.

“You have to be more specific than just people watching,” added Mr Botting. “You’ve got to be really precise, taking in how groups of two or three respond and interact with one another.

“Everyone travels from place to place nowadays but I enjoy sitting in one place for a whole day so I can really absorb the atmosphere.”

• The exhibition runs until November 10 at the Portland Gallery, 3 Bennet Street, St James’s, SW1A 1RP, 020 7493 1888, www.portlandgallery.com

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