Regulars / The Graduates 2016

Michael Cox’s paintings capture the transience of the urban landscape


Jamie Green

Falmouth University graduate Michael Cox is a highly skilled painter typically concerned with depicting the transience of architectural curiosities and the urban landscape.

He specialises in depicting urban structures often destined for demolition, detailing in his paintings nuances in their form and the underlying structural geometry. “I approach a painting in quite a formal way, with a solid under drawing in place before any paint is applied, this under drawing is very measured and precise; the paint usually slips outside of this guide slightly,” he says.


Somerset-born, Michael is more familiar with the rural than the urban, he explains: "I deliberately approach the subject as an outsider. All of the paintings are of facades or feature walls and windows, metaphors for the fact that I have no part in this way of life.”

Michael’s style is the fruit of experimentation and labour. “I went through a weird second year of experimentation with lots of different stuff which ended up being trash, but it was entirely worth it to get to where I am now,” he says. He explains that over time and practice this developed and progressed “from being quite intensely geometric to being a bit looser, allowing paint to do its own thing in parts, with the under drawing becoming quicker and more intuitive.”

He is particular grateful to his tutor of three years, Virginia Verran, who imparted a large degree of wisdom when it came to the technicalities of painting seen clearly throughout Michael’s work. He is quick to acknowledge that he is far from a finished article: “I’m still learning and I think I will be a learner for a long time, there were many interesting dialogues in tutorials over the years,” he says.

Michael chose Falmouth over London or campuses in other major cities because of the high quality of life and uniqueness the town offered him. “It is a strange, surreal place and one that stays in your memory when you leave,” he says. “One of the highlights of studying at Falmouth school of art was definitely being in an environment where there is so much enviable work being made,” he says. Although he wishes he’d used the silk screens more than he had the chance to.

Despite (or perhaps a result of) the high cost of tuition fees and materials for his practice being a particular concern for Michael, he explains that he learnt that he had to above all make the most of throwing himself into the unknown to learn and try new things. “From my peers at Falmouth I think I learnt that good studio practice is key, just coming into the studio, turning up even if you don’t have a plan of what to do for the day. Being present is everything,” he explains.

Previously shortlisted for the Parade Presents and John Ruskin Art Prizes, his paintings have already gained considerable praise, including here at It’s Nice That having featured him in an article in January this year. “What’s next is uncertain, which is scary but exciting at the same time, for me it’s just a matter of keeping up the work whatever situation I find myself in. There’s definitely going to be more changes and new things explored,” he says.


Michael Cox: Aylesbury II (Latimer)


Michael Cox: Robin Hood Gardens II


Michael Cox: Latimer Corner


Michael Cox: No Ball Games I (De Beauvoir)


Michael Cox: Lansbury (Tree)


Michael Cox: Lansbury (Smiley Face)


Michael Cox: Number 57 Robin Hood Gardens


Michael Cox: Aylesbury


Michael Cox: Albany Road (Tree)

G . F Smith

It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2016 is kindly supported by G . F Smith, whose gorgeous range of papers and services can be just the thing for new and soon-to-be creative grads. The 130-year-old paper company has a long history of working with designers and artists at all stages of their careers, with its high-quality and innovative paper products offering a huge range of creative possibilities.