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Waterfront Festival

Neil Heath Interview

9 March 05 words: Amanda Young
Seen in overalls at his easel carefully coasting one colour just over into the next. By the middle of the viewing it was spotlit and on offer

Self Portrait - Neil Heath

“I’m fascinated with colour!” Neil Heath says, explaining his interest in painting.

We step amongst crowds of suits and skits. He stops to point with two lime-topped Corona bottles at Self Portrait, Oil on Canvas 2004.” Heath, widely known for his painted still of former Forest manager Brian Clough, has abandoned a role at the BBC for a passion in painting and residency.

“This one (face to face with himself) was constructed using a camera on a slow shutter speed creating a blurred haze and then I painted using red and yellow tones.”

Time seems an issue throughout Neil Heath’s fine artwork. He uses his memory of a grand skyline or landscape to paint. Burgundy a painting of two blended pigments was influenced by a magazine image of the French city. These colourful abstractions hold the eye as far as the weave of the canvas.

Washes of oil are painted across the surface of the picture, which leaves that quality of forever freshness. There seems a searching in the footsteps of great abstract painters, which lends itself to Neil’s modern day repetition. Here we are looking at small scale Rothko-esque sketches in yellows, reds and blues. The paintings are visual horizons and tubular shafts, reducing the sublime to simplicity. We are asked to look only at the shimmering centre. A key feature seems the understated use of the paint matter, forcing light to push the work into further depths.


The process of making these paintings was performed this evening. Neil could be seen in overalls at his easel carefully coasting one colour just over into the next. By the middle of the viewing it was spotlit and on offer. Class in a glass. Next performance in your old BBC suit please sir! Neil tells me his next step is polyphonic paintings. With a bit of music in the background this should bring out the foreground.

Neil Heath’s work was on display in a group show with artists Si Flatley and Karen Hazard at The Castle public house, private room, Nottingham. The backdrop of abstraction was hung amongst the leather sofas served up with canapés and red wine to the sound of Zero 7.

In the back room Si Flatley’s paintings flickered in candlelight. He takes digital technology designs and Manga cartoons as starting points for an abstract painting. From a background in art he has recently been involved with stage sets and this architectural influence shows. Angular paintings remind me of Daniel Libeskind’s stuff. Flatley and I discussed the connection of shapes and contours having a sound frequency as we ventured into the texture of paint as a score.

Neil Heath

“I pick a colour and building up layers in a variety of ways,” he tells me pointing to a nifty piece of spray paint sitting next to blobs of glitter on a pink painting. Kinda Fiona Rae influenced, quite industrially funked out. A bit like Chris Ofili paintings with less elephant shit.

Abstraction is essentially a process of an experience between viewer and artwork. You could say that words and writing about the artwork often becomes the artwork itself. As artists take the journey of working thorough an idea, they choose to exhibit at certain points in the process. We are only given a piece 61cm by 91cm of the fuller picture. In the competition of Contemporary Art, ‘where’ the excitement and challenge lies is always in the hands of the audience. As one lady exclaimed to me that night “seeing the real thing is just old fashioned.”

If you like a pretty bit of art paraphernalia then this is the perfect work for you! These artists successfully explore the theme of infinity and meaninglessness in abstract paintings. You might’ve missed this exclusive evening but you can check out Neil’s stuff at

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