Michael Martin

Artist and teacher with a range of classes in East London


A brief bio

Born and raised in Sheffield, I graduated from Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) Fine Art department in 1978. After graduating I was awarded the Arts Council ‘Artists in Industry’ Fellowship in 1979 (based at Sharlston Colliery, West Yorkshire), and an ‘Artists in Schools’ residency at Abbey Grange School, Leeds in 1982. Between 1977 and 1985 I held various short and long -term teaching positions at Sheffield City Art Galleries, Bradford College, Wakefield College and Nelson and Colne College, and spent some time at San Francisco Art Institute and the University of California San Jose as a visiting lecturer. After moving to London in 1985, I taught at Walthamstow Adult Education Centre and Redbridge Institute. Since 2007, I have been running my own life drawing classes, as well as general art classes. I regularly participate in local art events and festivals and encourage my students to do likewise.


My approach to painting the human figure

002ccMy work, since I began painting, has been principally concerned with the depiction of the human figure and its condition; in short, the way individuals respond to the internal and external forces that attempt to shape and form them, and how, over time, these factors subtly work upon their appearance and psychological life.

This may suggest I am only concerned with man’s conditioning, or at least his modified behaviour and thinking – possibly a state of unacknowledged acquiescence or resignation – but I am also very interested in portraying his defiance and resistance to the social, economic and cultural factors that attempt to model and control him, and aim to depict an inner life which is unique and  individual.

These objectives can only be approached if there is a strong formal means of visually representing the figure and its context or environment. For me, strong observation, subtle handling of materials and invention within the actual depiction of the subject are essential in order to make a drawing or painting articulate and aesthetically pleasing.

018cOver the years, I have painted and drawn coal miners, paid models, friends and strangers, and I have always tried to bring close and sensitive observation to the subject, along with a willingness to be inventive and explore new possibilities within the given medium. It is these qualities that I try to teach in my weekly classes.

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