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Artist profile - Nicholas Leigh

PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:36 18 January 2018

Striding Edge by Nicholas Leigh

Striding Edge by Nicholas Leigh


Nicholas Leigh is using his art to help protect the landscape he loves. Mike Glover reports

Nicholas Leigh at work in his studioNicholas Leigh at work in his studio

FIRE fighter, fell runner and fine artist, Nicholas Leigh is helping to protect the landscapes he adores, navigates as an athlete and paints. His portrayals of iconic views of the Lake District are earning him a fast-growing reputation.

And now he has joined forces with environment charity Friends of the Lake District, to help pay for their upkeep. He has pledged to donate 10% of sales when one of their supporters orders from him along with donating a series of prints to help them with their fundraising for conservation and campaigning.

Nicholas, aged 34, was born in Crook near Kendal, before going on to Giggleswick School, near Settle in North Yorkshire, where he developed his love of art. ‘I was always interested in art, visiting Abbot Hall art gallery in Kendal as a teenager,’ he said at his home and studio at Plumgarths.

He achieved an A-level and school prize for art before moving on to a foundation art and design course at Leeds College and then a BA honours in Fine Arts from Loughborough University.

Scafell Pike by Nicholas LeighScafell Pike by Nicholas Leigh

Like most artists, he realised it was difficult to make a career painting. So after a gap year in New Zealand, he worked at Go Ape in Grizedale Forest and then became a fire fighter, joining the Cumbria service in 2011.

He is both a retained fireman and a full-timer so the time spare for his art is precious. Nevertheless, over the last four years he has developed his own style and interpretation of the Lake District.

Inspired by 1930s skiing and railway posters, Nicolas’s work captures iconic landscapes from around the Lake District. ‘I like to work from places I visit while out in the hills. I use sketches and photographs then work on the originals in my studio, drawing on ideas from the old posters.

‘I use oil paints which I think have the most vivid colours. I’m also a fell runner and have always enjoyed getting out and about in the fells of the Lake District. That inspires me as an artist’

Catbells by Nicholas LeighCatbells by Nicholas Leigh

Whatever spare time he has involves him, his wife Sarah-Kay and their red collie dog, Cappy, pounding the fells and taking in the views.

Friends of the Lake District use his paintings and prints to adorn their gazebo at shows. ‘I was delighted to help such a worthy cause. Without organisations like Friends of the Lake District the Cumbrian landscape could be very different in future years and this is just my way of supporting their work to protect the landscapes we all love,’ he said.

Janine Bickerstaff of Friends of the Lake District said: ‘There is always a buzz around when people see Nick’s art work. The scenes are easily identifiable but completely different to the usual depictions of the landscape and people seem to love the art-deco feel and bright colours.’

Nicholas has recently received high profile commissions for notable commercial properties. An original can now fetch four-figure sums but prints can be bought for as little as £25 unframed, or £45 framed.

He plans to hold his first solo exhibition soon.

To find out more go to www.nicholasleigh.co.uk and quote ‘FLD’ in comments at point of order to help support Friends of the Lake District.

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