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Artist Sue Nichol on her love of the Yorkshire coast

A quiet corner, Staithes, by Sue Nichol.
A quiet corner, Staithes, by Sue Nichol.

Sue Nichol’s subtly coloured, rich and textured land-, town- and seascapes are testament to the great warmth and affection she holds for the Yorkshire coast.

Sue Nichol’s subtly coloured, rich and textured land-, town- and seascapes are testament to the great warmth and affection she holds for the Yorkshire coast.

Memories of Pilot Me B, by Sue Nichol.

Memories of Pilot Me B, by Sue Nichol.

Although she now lives inland in Sheffield, Sue’s upbringing on the North East coast has left an indelible imprint on her and her work.

Her paintings bring the sea to life in all weathers: from tranquil views from the cliff-tops to wild angry waves battering the breakwaters.

Meanwhile, her skies give us the constantly shifting, scudding clouds, sunlit at times, heavy, dark and threatening at others.

The cosy cottages, somewhat scuffed and comfortably lived-in, of her beloved Staithes greet the viewer with a welcoming glow.

At college, most students had pictures of Che Guevara on their walls. I had postcards of Staithes.

Sue Nichol

The traditional boats of the North East coast, the Yorkshire Cobles and Double-enders are among her favourite subjects.

Her father, who inspired and encouraged her to paint and draw from a young age, built sailing boats as a hobby and instilled in her a close affinity with their shapes and designs.

The fishermen of Staithes are accustomed to artists making subjects of their boats and can be fierce critics their efforts.

It was one of Sue’s proudest moments when the owner of a Staithes coble remarked that it was the best painting of his boat he’d ever seen. It meant more to her than any commendation she’s ever been given in the art world!

Sue’s love affair with Staithes (pronounced Steers in the local dialect) began in childhood when her father, a schoolteacher, would bring her along on trips he made with his pupils to stay at the old army camp at the top of the village.

Her enthusiasm continued into adult life.

“At college,” she says, “most students had posters of Che Guevara on their walls.

“I had postcards of Staithes.”

At a young age Sue also discovered the work of Dame Laura Knight and was fascinated and inspired by the pioneering artist who also worked in Staithes and wrote about the village very fondly in her autobiography.

“Sue is following in the footsteps of her heroine by exhibiting here in Staithes,” says Al Milnes of Staithes Gallery.

“I like to think Dame Laura might be looking down and smiling to see these stunning paintings by one of her greatest admirers.”

I Must Down to Steers Again by Sue Nichol opens at Staithes Gallery on Saturday May 26. The exhibition continues until Sunday July 1. Gallery open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 10am to 5pm. Visit www.staithesgallery.co.uk, call 01947 841840 or 07972 012464.