We continue our monthly series of informal artist get-togethers where the conversation may stray from the triassic to contemporary reusable plastics — and just about anywhere in between. First Fridays are open to anyone who wants to get involved – you don’t need to be an art.earth member (but of course we always welcome you if you’d like to become one).

This month we have one special guest: Hugh Nankivell.

Hugh Nankivell is a social musician based in Torquay. Hugh has had a long collaborative history with visual arts, initiated by a commission at the age of 15 to compose some music for the opening ceremony of Milton Keynes’ Concrete Cows. Since then he has engaged with painters, galleries and sculptors in many different settings in the UK and abroad and for three years was the musician-in-residence for the Tyne and Wear Museum’s Service. Hugh has composed large-scale pieces for organisations including Opera North, Dartmoor National Park, UNESCO, The National Theatre of Scotland and the International Agatha Christie Festival. 

Hugh is currently the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Music Associate for Devon working on arts and health projects with early years, families, older people and those living with dementia. Hugh met Rick through his involvement with The Choral Engineers, a creative community choir co-led by Hugh with Steve Sowden, who for a couple of years were artists in residence at Torre Abbey while they made their Brexit triptych.


Walking with Rick

In February this year Rick came back from a trip to east Africa and began seeing and painting the animals of that region in and around Torquay. At this time it was not allowed for any socialising. I was inspired by Rick’s paintings and imagined walks and conversations. This turned into a series of songs, which in turn inspired Rick to more paintings. It has been a very joyful, humorous and life-enhancing relationship and sustained us both for quite a while in March-May of this year. Rick uses watercolours, which are quite an instant form of expression. I write ‘instant’ songs, making and recording them in about the same amount of time as Rick takes to do his paintings. I made a plan to compose a song in all 12 keys – starting in C and gradually working up to B – some major and some minor! I play all the instruments and do all the singing on the songs apart from the ‘orchestrated’ arrangement of the Monarch Butterflies, which features many keyboard players from around the world. 


Eventually a round dozen paintings and songs had been created. We have been planning a finale for a while, hopefully it will emerge while the exhibition is on.

A link to the playlist of all the songs and pictures on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-79370392/sets/walking-with-rick


Torquay Rewilding exhibition

An exhibition will be available to view at Torre Abbey, Torquay from the start of October until the end of November – it is called 


Torquay Rewilding – Songs and Paintings

By Rick Thorpe (Paintings) and Hugh Nankivell (Songs)
And will consist of 13 watercolours by Rick Thorpe and a series of lyrics of my songs and a video of all the songs alongside the paintings.


The session


At some point we’ll reconvene in person to share food as well as art, but we’re also pledging (you read it here first…) to continue to Zoom meetings as it allows many more people to participate without geographic limitations (or, it would seem, timezone limitations as we have had participants joining us at 5am their time and 10pm their time).

If you’re a Zoom beginner, read more about how to connect to the meeting. For those experienced in using Zoom, the meeting ID for October is 818 4027 3483 and the password is 751254.


We will gather on Zoom at 1300hrs BST to share conversation – we usually go for around 90 minutes which is as long as anyone can deal with an online meeting!


Want to share?

If you’d like to share your work, thoughts, excitements, obsessions or past triumphs, or would just like to challenge us with a question or concern, please get in touch and we’ll see where you can slot in. Currently we’re inviting participation for November and December.