“I do not set out to make a ‘picture’ of a tree; instead I want to explore the colour, shape and light of a tree. My intention is always to make a ‘painting’. My ideas remain focused on the abstract. It is this challenge, the tension and the contrast, which makes me the painter that I am.
I completed my Foundation Course in London at City and Guilds in 1991. I then undertook a 3-year BA degree course in Art and Aesthetics at the University of Wales in Cardiff. Whilst at university I participated in an exchange programme at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Here, for the first time, I experienced separate approaches to the practice of painting and to the practice of sculpture. I also worked as an assistant to the American painter, David Novros. but it was not until I had completed my studies that I began to further understand my approach to making work.
In 1995, I returned to the USA, continuing my work in a studio in New York City. Returning to London in 1996 I began the work that was to develop into the paintings I make today. I completed an MA in Fine Art at the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ College in 1998. It was at this time that I began creating small still life set-ups. I used these as a means of developing my understanding of form and colour under various lighting conditions. But it was not until I placed a series of objects on my windowsill, and began to consider internal and external light, that I became more engaged with the subjects beyond the studio, than within.
When I was awarded a studio residency in East London I began a series of paintings from the ever-changing landscape of both the old and new that surrounded me. I also began working outside, continuing with this when I moved to my own live/work studio at Trinity Buoy Wharf in 2001.The hidden spaces of the city provided an abundance of shapes, colours and changing light throughout the seasons, and were the inspiration for my series of ‘East London’ paintings. To me, a tree, a building, a road, a house, is a shape. I read the world as a series of shapes and colours. The subjects I choose for a particular painting are dictated not by social comment, or narrative, but by abstract ideas.
Since 2008, I have been working in Rome and the surrounding Lazio landscape. Although my work is deeply rooted in the tradition of figurative and representational painting, my most recent paintings from the landscape and the environment that surrounds me, has been a gradual development. To me this is where the ultimate challenge exists. The ideas and concepts that form my paintings remain completely and conceptually abstract.”
Noel teaches on the Diploma