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Contemporary British Artist

Derek Dickinson




Solo Exhibition - Theatre Royal Plymouth, Devon, UK 


11th November - 7th December 2024



 Kips Bay Palm Beach, 230 Miramar Way, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA - 2024

Collaborative Exhibition - Lisk Gallery at: 44AD Gallery, 4 Abbey St. Bath, Somerset -  2024

Collaborative Exhibition - Lisk Gallery, Liskeard, Cornwall - 2023

Dreaming in Colour and Shape - Daa Art Online Exhibition - 2023

MA Contemporary Art Practice - Graduation Show - University of Plymouth, Devon - 2022

Collaborative Exhibition - KARST Gallery, Plymouth, Devon - 2021

Gallery Shtorm Inaugural Online Exhibition - 2021

Equilibrium & Chaos - Collaborative Exhibition - Gallery Shtorm in residence at Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London - 2021

Summer Exhibition - Royal Academy of Arts, London - 2020

Collaborative Exhibition - Host Galleries, Plymouth, Devon - 2019

Solo Exhibition - Scholars, St Germans, Cornwall - 2019

Solo Exhibition - Scholars, St Germans, Cornwall - 2018

Solo Exhibition - Long Gallery, St Germans, Cornwall - 2016

Collaborative Exhibition - Artmill Gallery, Plymouth, Devon - 2017

Collaborative Exhibition - Artmill Gallery, Plymouth, Devon - 2016

Collaborative Exhibition - Artmill Gallery, Plymouth, Devon - 2015

Solo Exhibition - The Pipe Gallery, Plymouth, Devon - 2012

Collaborative Exhibition - Modern Artist Gallery, Pangbourne, Berkshire - 2012

Collaborative Exhibition - Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Devon - 2010

Collaborative Exhibition - Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Devon - 2009

Solo Exhibition - The Gallery, Liskeard, Cornwall - 2009




Derek Dickinson, who was born in 1960, hails from southwest England. In 1983, he relocated to London and held various creative positions, including designer, stylist, assistant director, and roles in artist management and PR, primarily within the music industry. Upon returning to the South West, Derek pursued formal art education at Plymouth City College and ultimately obtained a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from the University of Plymouth in 2010. In 2019, he furthered his education at the University of Plymouth, earning an MA in Fine Art.


Derek's artwork has been showcased in solo and collaborative exhibitions, with notable displays at esteemed venues such as the Royal Academy, London and Berlin. His art primarily delves into autobiographical themes, exploring the human experience, and is featured in permanent collections worldwide.


Currently, Derek resides in a secluded farm cottage on the Duchy of Cornwall Estate, drawing inspiration from the serene environment and channeling its tranquility and beauty into his work.





"My art is primarily autobiographical, exploring the human experience, including its more challenging aspects.


Movement is a key element in my work, and my abstract fluid forms reflect my interest in the essence of existence. My canvas pieces, often created with acrylic paint and muslin, delve into spirituality through textured forms.


My artistic journey has undergone a significant shift from monochrome to the reintroduction of colour. Previously, I mainly worked in monochrome, using pure white with occasional touches of grey and black. This approach allowed me to strip away anything unnecessary from the composition, inviting the viewer to focus solely on the emotion of the piece.


Over time, I began to reintroduce colour, primarily using primary colours, to see if they could bring new meaning and strength to the work, as these colours are often associated with basic emotions and primal energy. Expressionistic yet controlled, muslin is thrown and manipulated until the essence of the piece is revealed. The rich textures of the minimalist canvases unveil delicate and sensual figures.


Performers, particularly dancers such as Rudolf Nureyev and Vaslav Nijinsky, have always had a special interest for me. Their unwavering dedication to their art, despite the suffering it often entails, has been a profound inspiration. I have used the image of the performer as a metaphor for human struggles in my work.


As my art has evolved, the conceptual expressions of emotion have become increasingly more figurative. Elements of soulful musicality and dance now permeate my works, delving into the philosophy of the performer and deeply reflecting on the raw and profound human vulnerability that we all share."




Tell us about yourself. What is your background? Where did you grow up? How have your life experiences shaped your work? 

I was born in 1960 in a public house in Plymouth city centre. In 1970, my parents relocated the family to another public house in a small village in southeast Cornwall. It was there, in my room above the public bars, that my relationship with art began. I started to sketch and paint at an early age, finding it to be my sanctuary, a place to escape from the world around me, which I often found harsh and frightening. I felt alienated, being and feeling different from my peers.

My school years were difficult. My only interests were in the arts. I excelled in technical drawing, art, woodwork, and crafts - anything creative. I struggled with other subjects, as it was not until much later in life that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Unfortunately, at the time of my early education, dyslexia was unrecognised.

This emotionally complex period - from childhood through adolescence and into early adulthood - led to mental instability and vulnerability. I believe this period of my life profoundly impacted my work in my formative years and continues to manifest itself in my work to date. These experiences have shaped my practice, investigating the human condition and reflecting upon my existence.

After finishing my schooling at sixteen with few qualifications, I started an apprenticeship in hairdressing. I quickly advanced in this trade, which led to salon management and part-time lecturing at Plymouth City College.

In 1983, I moved to London and worked as a designer and stylist for film, photography, television, video, and performance and as an assistant director of music videos. I also worked in artist management and PR, mainly in the music industry.


Why did you become an artist, and what has been your journey up to this point?

I have always felt like an artist, but it took me some time to fully embrace it. I was shy and doubtful about my work, hiding it in a wardrobe. However, my close friends and family who saw my work reassured me that I had talent and encouraged me to share it.


Despite my doubts and insecurities, I felt compelled to continue creating art because it was essential to my life. Creating art significantly improved my mental state and made me happier.

I started my art education in 2009 at Plymouth City College, achieving a higher education diploma that led me to the BA Fine Art course at the University of Plymouth. After spending a decade working alone in my studio, I needed to reconnect with other artists. I also wanted to explore my work with moving images, so I returned to the University of Plymouth for the MA Fine Arts course.


What is an average day in your studio like, and what is your routine?

I don't have an average day in the studio and don't stick to a routine. Sometimes, I start working, and if things don't go well, I walk away; other times, I might push on through. There are times when I'm very productive and others when I struggle to produce anything. If things don't go well in the studio, I often return to my office and work on film and sound editing.


What is your creative process?

When I start a new painting, I often have an idea of what I want to express: a portrait, a figurative piece, or a landscape. Sometimes, I sometimes have a picture, a vision of how I intended the piece to appear upon completion. This controlled approach would often alter somewhere throughout this process, and the work would begin to flow; I lost awareness of myself and time. This is when my best work emerges.

To create my paintings, I begin by soaking pieces of muslin in paint and then throwing them onto the canvas to capture a particular moment, form, or figure. Then, working back into the muslin, bringing the effigy to the fore. I likened this process to a performance, using a burst of chaotic emotion as the impetus to throw the muslin, then returning to control and refine the composition. Over time, I began creating the figures on board, which allowed me to develop their interplay when transferring them to the canvas. 

In addition to painting, I have returned to creating moving images and sound. The figures and forms in my canvas works are also evident in my work with film, sound, and performance. My films are painterly, using light and movement to evoke a chiaroscuro quality.


How do you choose a medium for your work? Do you prepare and plan, or do you improvise and experiment?

I choose my artistic medium based on what I want to express at any given time. Usually, I work with acrylic paint and muslin on canvas. Sometimes, I use oil paints, which requires a slower process. I also enjoy working with video and sound, but access to studios and technical support has been limited since I completed my MA.

The preparation and planning for my art depend on the medium I'm using. When painting on canvas, I tend to be more spontaneous. Over-planning can make things complicated and sometimes overworked. More control and planning are necessary when working with moving images and sound. However, spontaneity while filming can often lead to more exciting results.

I have used muslin as a medium for more than a decade. My attraction to this material evolved when I discovered several old muslin bandages amongst my grandmother’s belongings, found after her death. One day, I began experimenting with these bandages, incorporating them into my work, seeing and using them as metaphors for physical pain, mental suffering, and also the process of healing. 

My interest in this material grew, and I began buying reams of muslin fabric and using it on a much larger scale in my three-dimensional and installation works. I started using unique reliefs of the muslin on stretched canvas, creating form and revealing eclectic, emotional expressions through contortions of paint-soaked fabric.


Are your works conveying a message? Is there a narrative or a story to your work?

My practice is intensely autobiographical, considering the challenging aspects of life, such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Movement is a critical factor in my work, an abstraction of fluid forms reflecting my interest in the endeavour of existence. My canvas employs acrylic paint and muslin, exploring spirituality through textural forms.

Over time, these conceptual expressions of emotion have become more figurative. Elements of soulful musicality and dance are present in the work, which explores the performer's philosophy and reflects on human vulnerability. The minimalist canvases’ rich textures reveal delicate and sensual figures.


Who and what are some of your most significant influences in your life and as an artist?

Considering my work is primarily autobiographical, too many people have influenced my life and, subsequently, my work for me to mention. If I were to name an artist with a profound influence, it would be Mark Rothko, with Francis Bacon as a close second. Bill Viola's works have inspired my film, sound, and installation processes.


Do you consider your work of art a creation or a discovery?

I try not to concern myself too much with this question. At times, I have wondered whether the work I created was passed through me, given to me, or whether the manifestation of the work came from somewhere or someone else. I shall try not to concern myself too much about this – as long as it keeps coming!







London - TV

Little Greene Paint Company

Western Morning News

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