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My Influences: Nick Goss
My Influences: Nick Goss
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Where do artists get their inspiration? In our exhibition Morley’s Mirror, contemporary painter Nick Goss explores themes of displacement, natural disaster and the psychology of space through reimagining his home city of London. His collage-based approach layers images drawn from contemporary culture as well as personal memories and historical events. We asked Nick to share a selection of the books, films and music that have most influenced his painting.
John Berger and Jean Mohr, A Seventh Man (1975)
“The book’s intimate address, it seems, is to those who have experienced the uprooting and separation of families. As has been said many times, and lived a million more times, emigration on an unprecedented scale is a historic feature of the epoch in which we are living.” John Berger
This was a big influence on the ‘Morley’s Mirror’ paintings. The authors and photographer immersed themselves in the 1970’s migrant experience, answering questions concerning what compels people to leave their own countries.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wall-Paper (1892)
The terrifying and poetic imagery of the wallpaper mutating in the moonlight has never left me; the idea that something as decorative and everyday as wallpaper, designed to communicate a sense of tranquillity, can contain an implicit, almost monstrous threat. There is a peculiar psychological charge that makes me think of Edvard Munch’s interiors and the claustrophobic patterned rooms of the Harold Gilman paintings currently on display in Pallant House Gallery.
Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)
‘MAGIC THEATRE, ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYONE’
A fleeting moment can creep up on you when you find yourself alone in a city. When the protagonist crosses the street to seek out this enticing joint seen reflected in some still water, he is unable to find it. Distrustful of what he has witnessed, it is something of this psychological uncertainty I hope to convey in my painting.
I’m unsure if it happened subconsciously making this watery body of paintings, but I ended up listening to a lot of fluid, ambient electronic music in the studio. I have put together a playlist of some of these tracks. When describing the drumming style of Krautrock band Neu!, Iggy Pop said it was akin to listening to the gurgling, constantly changing sounds of the Rhine River. I love the analogy that something so mechanical and metronomic can convey the same sense of evolving fluidity as a river in motion. Until you listen to those tracks, it seems impossible.
Listen to Nick Goss’s playlist on Spotify.
Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (1987)
As with Steppenwolf, this film has shaped the way I think about depicting cities. Set in post-war Berlin the mood is melancholic, uncanny and utterly believable. The scene in the library where the angels read the patrons thoughts is one of my all-time favourites. The film is spiritual and dreamlike even in the most austere setting.
Chantal Akerman, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Simple household tasks are performed in a gently evolving time frame, building up in to a kind of spiritual reverie in the close domestic space. Eventually the viewer begins to feel a sense of dread and claustrophobia as the protagonist starts to unravel. The mood and psychology evoked feels quite painterly and I have made numerous drawings based on stills from this film.
Theo Angelopoulus, The Weeping Meadow (2004)
This film uses rising floodwaters to symbolise separation and displacement, people fleeing one land and seeking a new home. There is a precariousness to the characters, always treading on uncertain ground and trying to keep one step ahead of history, which I find chimes perfectly with times we live in now. I have used a number of stills from this film and Dolphin Express was based on an image depicting a gang of travelling musicians who briefly join the protagonists travelling by train.
Nick Goss: Morley’s Mirror took place in 2019.