Image: Paul Noble, Villa Carl, 1997 © Paul Noble
Paul Noble was born in 1963 in Dilston, England. He studied at Humberside College of Higher Education and Sunderland Polytechnic before moving to London in 1987. He was one of the five founder members of the co-operative who formed the City Racing gallery in London, where his first exhibitions were also held. In 2000 Noble was the recipient of an award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2012.
A painter, draughtsman and installation artist, Noble is best known for his drawings of sprawling, imagined townscapes such as Nobson Newtown, a fictional metropolis rendered in a series of large graphite drawings, which Noble has obsessively expanded over 15 years. His precise and detailed style has much in common with the aesthetics of architectural drawings; fine pencil lines, carefully tracing the contours of buildings, trees, skylines and even archaeological secrets beneath the earth. A closer look reveals details that are sinister, symbolic and darkly funny. Noble describes his practice as ‘town planning as self-portraiture’ in which he acts as an omnipresent overlord directing the scope and infrastructure of Nobson through imagination and personal experience.
Buildings are often in the shapes of letters, spelling out place names and offering further evidence of the personalities that may inhabit them. Carl’s Villa (1997) is one such example, depicting what appears to be a fantasy bachelor pad for the character of the title, complete with outdoor pool table, veranda and a collection of questionable nude sculptures.