British Outsider Art

Richard Nie

b. 1954 - ?

After leaving secondary school, Richard Nie took a job in an office, but this did not suit him, and he embarked on a series of part-time jobs; currently he works as a gardener. As a young adult he began to suffer from serious depression and rarely left the family home, spending his nights drawing and playing the guitar (music and drawing have a close relationship for him), and his days sleeping. In the early 1980s he was admitted to a therapeutic community, where he participated in art therapy. Low in self-esteem, he destroyed much of his artwork, believing that his drawings had no artistic value. Although Nie achieved recognition as an Outsider artist, this was a label with which he was not very comfortable. At first he described his work as 'doodles' ­ an umbrella under which many people shelter their work ­ and then as 'extended doodles'. He was very encouraged by seeing the work of Paul Klee. In a letter of 1998 he wrote: 'When I think of drawing, I associate it with, EXPRESSION; MEDITATION; METAMORPHOSIS: as in change that happens during a period drawing/as in the change of one’s feeling or mood, during a period of drawing.' In the same letter he referred to drawing having been a 'private language between myself and the pictures'; despite his misgivings about other people eavesdropping on this, he has accepted showing his more 'finished' work, while keeping many smaller drawings 'in a much more ragged; RAW; unfinished state' as a way of 'compensating for all the drawings I have let go of'. 'These', he explained, 'are heads, figures or faces emerging from some kind of automatic-calligraphy sort of action.'

David Maclagan

This galley uses flash 8 which can be downloaded from