Christopher Noulton’s paintings present an imagined world of cryptic scenes like a storyboard from an old film. There is a strong sense of nostalgia, of art deco buildings, milk floats and Modernism, all glimpsed through the incomprehending half-light of memory and childhood. Weaving their way through the images are subtle patterns – evergreen topiary, shamrock motifs, sweeping architectural structures – that suggest a sense of order in a surreal and hidden narrative. In these works, the past represents something of a conundrum, a place where both uncertainty and optimism coexist.
Christopher was born in 1961 on a post-war council estate in London. It was rumoured that the local authority had selected families that would represent a good cross section of the local community. As a result Charters Close housed a milkman, a bus driver, a dinner lady, a tailor, an asphalter and many others from the British workforce. This pocket universe had a great sense of community, and many of the residents have since found themselves in Christopher’s paintings.
Obsessed with television, he grew up on a diet of cult TV classics such as; Thunderbirds, UFO, The Prisoner, Dr Who, and The Avengers, and from a young age he would sit in front of the screen, drawing and painting his heroes. Echoes of some of these shows have inevitably found their way into his work where he mixes them with personal history and memory to produce a mythological narrative of sorts.
He left school and started working at Main Titles, a commercial art studio near Fleet Street. Whilst there he got to work on artwork for some of the most iconic album and single covers of the time for bands such as; The Police, Squeeze, Robert Fripp, Sham 69, The Jam, The Cure, and Roxy Music. During this pre digital era, one of his roles was to typeset all the track listings and lyrics by hand. This led to a deep appreciation for the more narrative based songs, many of which have acted as the starting point for his paintings.
With a visual passion forged in the inferno of 1960s &1970s popular culture and armed with his portfolio of paintings, set designs, models, and short films, he set out to find work in the film and television industry. Having experienced life on the sets of; The Sweeney, Space 1999, Blake’s Seven, The New Avengers, and the James Bond movie; The Spy Who Loved Me, he finally landed a job at Shepperton Film Studios as a Special Effects Designer / Model Maker.
He worked on a string of award-winning animated TV commercials including; Quavers, Prize Guy Yoghurts, Dairy Milk, and the famous live action PG Tips Chimpanzee adverts. He also worked on series 1 and 2 of the highly successful children’s television series; Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, where he built many of the characters, stations, and landscapes. His film work has included the designing and building of a massive aerial model of an American town in Montana for the feature film; Silent Voice, directed by Mike Newell and starring Gregory Peck and Jamie Lee Curtis. He then went on to co-create, write, design, and produce; Potamus Park for Carlton Television which was filmed over three years at Pinewood Film Studios. During this time he also illustrated books and comics for many well known TV characters such as; Rosie and Jim, and Postman Pat.
Having achieved his childhood ambition of working in television and film, he felt compelled to return to his love of painting where he could express himself away from the time and budget constraints of his TV work. He now paints full time from his studio in Putney.
Christopher spent twenty-five years working in the film and television industry and this has quite naturally influenced his work. Inspired by cinematography and the way things are framed, he combines the traditional stuff of painting with cinematic ways of looking at things. As part of the picture making process, he photographs small cardboard models complete with toy cars and people to establish the scenes he has in mind.
His paintings have been selected and hung three times at the Royal Academy Summer Show, and have been shown in galleries across London.