Art - Nick Carrick

“Can you move the rabbit over slightly?” says Nick Carrick, applying the finishing touches to the hanging of his first-ever solo show, in the HQ Gallery. I’m looking round the twenty or so paintings on the two floors of the space in St John St, trying to glean what they’re all about before interviewing him, in order to add ammunition to my question-asking armoury. But what are they all about? There’s a certain naivety to them, certainly: most of the thick brush-strokes of colourful oils suggests the work of a pre-teen. But there’s something deeper, too. There’s something sinisterly adult about them, as well, which lends them their power. Which has made Nick the rising star he today is. Do I like them? I’m not sure that I’d want one on my living room wall. But I know of some much better qualified judges who would, and do. More of which later.

I sit Nick down in the upstairs room, and talk to him. He’s wearing a stripy jumper, and jeans, and has ruddy-blond short hair. Very bloke-in-the-street. “I used to work in demolition,” he says. “I was very influenced by the experience of wandering through desolate, decaying spaces where there used to be life. I’d make a story up, fantasise about what used to go on there. I think there’s a lot of this in my work. An ambiguous quality.” I ask him to come up with some adjectives to describe his work. “Melancholic,” he says. “But cheeky, too, with a sense of humour. It plays on two levels. It’s quite poetic and ambiguous. It deals with broken narrative.” I ask him if it’s fair to call his work ‘naive’ (in a conscious way, of course, if that isn’t oxymoronic). “I’ve always painted in the way I did when I was 13,” he says. I’ve always painted in a naive style. I never changed it.

Nick Carrick: demolition man