Last week, standing in his fine art gallery situated within Glossop’s Indoor Market Hall, renowned artist, John Kimpton and I spent a good hour or so, discussing today’s art world.

John’s journey is from a pure fine art background, whilst mine was a journey through commercial art, advertising and design; so we have approached the creative industry from totally opposite directions, yet as we talked, we soon discovered that we had in fact converged on a centre point, where basic draftsmanship employed in basic drawing, and design work, is to us both a cathartic and empowering practice.

We had so much to say about the subject, that John agreed to allow me to publish our musings to local readers.

John Kimpton is a very accomplished local artist, whose approach to his craft is straight-talking, passionate, hard-working and honest.

John was born in 1961 in Hulme, Manchester and was educated in Marple, Cheshire.

His artwork first gained public acclaim in 1979 when he was the prize winner in the National Exhibition Of Children’s Art, which itself attracted some 72,000 entries from all over Britain.

Since then he has gained recognition for his intricate pencil drawings as well as powerful, moody landscapes as well as a wide range of studies capturing

In 1984 his ‘Nuclear Nightmare’ series created a sensation when it was exhibited, and was also featured in a documentary for Granada Television. A five year project studying and portraying the domestic cat has captured the true essence of the animal, thus creating a wider appeal and interest in his work.

A couple of years ago, John turned his attention to capturing and portraying a multitude of human interactions and mannerisms on both the local streets and the market ground of Ashton-under-Lyne which has culminated in the publication of his book ‘Art of the Community’ which contains over 100 studies of Tameside people and offers the reader a real insight depicted in sketches, a collection of moments in the everyday lives of ordinary people going about their business on the streets.

Since then john has shown virtuosity in the development of these themes resulting in his surreal rendering of ‘The Carnival of Life’ which is a large mural, showing market characters, that were on show on the outside of the restored Ashton Market Hall. This artwork; typical of John’s distinctive style, created a much wider appreciation of John’s work.

He also won the Tootal Prize for his intricate drawings at the Manchester Academy of Fine Art and his paintings were chosen to represent Britain from thousands of entries from all over the United Kingdom, in ‘The Art of the Feline’, held in Belgium.

His artworks have been featured on the BBC and displayed at the Royal Academy in London a documentary was to follow on his ‘Nuclear Nightmare’ series.

John explained that this long road to becoming the acclaimed artist that he no doubt is has been helped as much through his mistakes as through his successes.

It’s a given that every artist follows their own set of guidelines and procedure to do their work. It’s only by developing that unique style of working that brings out the creativity in their work. So I asked him what influenced his distinctive style.

He recognises the fact that he owes much of his idiosyncrasies, artistic ability and knowledge of the craft to personal study. “I read a lot”, he said, “I think by researching and studying the works of the old masters and analysing the result;, considering their limited materials and basic equipment, and applying what they teach using today’s vast array of modern mediums, can be one of the greatest tools at an artist’s disposal, after all; if I may borrow a phrase first attributed to Bernard of Chartres in the 12th century, what better way to excel than by learning from those giants that have gone before us?”

I asked John about his Gallery and why he chose Glossop Market?

John says that having a gallery in the centre of this iconic northern market hall has made a real difference; the informality in close proximity to other traders in a relaxed and friendly environment has been a real plus. “I chose to open up here to get closer to the community. It’s an inescapable fact that the vast majority of people don’t tend go out to galleries. So rather than them going to the art, I am, in my own way, bringing the art to them.” Many of visitors to view and buy John’s work agree that the space is creative; it’s sociable and hugely enjoyable.

Here, within Glossop’s Market Hall and outdoor stalls too, visitors and shoppers to the town can enjoy a whole panoply of traditional vendors, this presents a great sense of neighbourhood and community. And as many of John’s regular patrons and collectors have discovered, Glossop can offer both locals and visitors to the Derbyshire town, culture on its own doorstep.

Adorning the walls of this exciting, atmospheric, uniquely placed fine art gallery; carefully situated in this truly urban setting next to the market’s café, are many fine pieces depicting John’s works of art on themes as varied as ‘Walking the Dog’ the afore mentioned ‘Art of the Community’, drawings and sketches of local daily life, ‘Art of the Cat’ and powerful moody landscapes, inspired by the beauty of the Derbyshire hills, are just some of the subjects that have inspired the art of John Kimpton.

The Arts have the power to move us, to provoke debate, to educate, and challenge accepted wisdom. And whilst studying the many local landscapes displayed in the gallery, John explained that ‘atmosphere is something that becomes easier to understand if you sketch outdoors, in front of your subject. “There is nothing like getting out in the countryside to give authenticity to your landscape paintings!” and it certainly shows in much of his quality pastel work.

However, John doesn’t limit himself to these subjects alone. Explaining his reasoning, he said, “As you must know working for many years as a commercial artist, there is so much to learn and new avenues to explore in the outside world, therefore I try not to limit myself artistically. I like to explore new techniques and treatments, as I believe it’s important to try out new things. Without continual stimulation and growth, the artistic mind becomes stagnant.”

Finally, I asked John what advice would you give to any aspiring artist that my read this article?

“That’s easy,” he quipped. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to succeed. – Sure, it’s good to be hard on yourself, but not to a point where it paralyses you artistically!”

You can visit and speak with John about his work at:

THE DANCING CAT GALLERY on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, where he’s open from 9.00am till 5.00pm.

All are very welcome