Top Steampunk artist at major new Goodwood art fair

Gary Nicholls - Cruella
Gary Nicholls - Cruella

Gary Nicholls, one of  the UK’s top steampunk fine art photographers, will be exhibiting at the inaugural Sussex Art Fairs (West) which runs from May 17-19 at Goodwood Racecourse.

His project The Imaginarium, which has taken more than six years to produce, is a fine art special edition book told in a series of 150 fine art image. A selection of these images as well as images from Book II, due out this summer, will be exhibited at the show as limited edition prints on metal.

With the interest in Steampunk rising all the time and attracting all ages from young to older, with families, parents and grandparents all getting involved in the polite and imaginative world of Steampunk, this is a fascinating artform, Gary says. Gary’s work has attracted worldwide attention for his detailed conceptual photographic skills which will be vividly displayed at Goodwood. The Imaginarium tells an intricate, fantastical and ultimately beautiful steampunk story through the unique medium of fine art images.

“If you ask 100 people what Steampunk means, they will probably all give you different answers. For me, it is Jules Verne, it is Victorian days where all the gadgets and all the technology is mechanical and driven by steam. It is the Victoria era. It is not a genre. It is a lifestyle. I have become more Steampunk than I was when I first started.”

Gary was initially inspired to begin this journey from an image he saw in Photoshop Magazine in 2012. Having honed his skills from the earliest days of his career in a photographic society with his first Digital SLR camera, a Canon 450, he found that Steampunk gave him full licence to develop his imagination. In 2012 Gary went to Lincoln’s Asylum Steampunk Festival and it was here that Gary found his cast and the inspiration for his characters.

“From thereon in, there were a lot of late-night phone calls, secret Facebook groups, clandestine meetings, trips to New York, clambering through old buildings...”

The Imaginarium is the result, telling the tale of fictional character Eva and her journey from ruination to salvation, saving the world from a powerful nemesis – all told through Gary’s fine art photographic images.

The tale includes a cast of more than 150-real Steampunks, whose striking costumes have all been carefully designed and created by seamstresses. Not only is the fashion important within the story but the gadgets included in the scenes have also been uniquely created and designed by master craftsman, Peter Walton.

Each image has taken between 100-350 hours to produce, with the street scene taking more than 600 hours. Gary uses a layering technique harking back to the old masters. His meticulous attention to the details of shadows and light have been greatly influenced by artists such as Caravaggio.

“All images are completely formed in my mind before I set about picking up my camera.”

He builds layers of detail from multiple photographs taken personally from locations as diverse as New York City, London, Barcelona, Cambodia, Poland, Kefalonia and Portugal.

n May 17-19 at Goodwood Racecourse (Friday, May 17, 6pm-9pm – the private view, Saturday, May 18, 10am-6pm – public day, Sunday, May 19, 10am-5pm – public day).

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