Ringwood is a quiet market town on the western border of the New Forest. Pebble-dashed bungalows and retirement homes are aplenty, with mostly elderly people and young families residing there. Bustling farmer’s markets and dimly lit local pubs may seem like the only places to spend your time in somewhere as rural as this, yet in the residential labyrinth of this small town there are still people who manage to find a way of finding something to do… Outside of daytime walking and late night drinking that is.
Around 18 months ago, I was on my way home from a night of drinking, when I crossed paths with Nick Clark in the early hours of the morning. An extremely welcoming and offering man, he showed us into his modest apartment, shared his drink and tobacco and entertained me for hours with his conversation and debate.
Many controversial and nonsensical subjects were tabled and exhausted that night, some I can’t remember, most I don’t want to. But after sitting and revelling with Nick, I felt that there was a side of him that few got to see – a wealth of stories and experiences rarely appreciated. Many of these tales held the keys to understanding Nick, a man rather misunderstood in his immediate time and place.
Despite never truly taking to the urban lifestyle, in an exciting and expressive part of the country, many of the interesting and important events that have shaped Nick and his work have come during his years attending school, college and early working career in Hampshire and London. Unbelievable anecdotes of schoolboy antics, future award-winning classmates, and seedy jobs soon become ordinary when conversing with Nick.
He is similar to few other artists in modern society, in that in trying to convey his message, he has learnt to navigate several disciplines seamlessly. Jumping between writing science-fiction novels and trancey DnB-come-classic-rock-hybrid albums, to filming accompanying music videos and abstract shorts films is no easy feat. Yet, one can forget when scrolling through the endless list of videos on Nick’s YouTube, that everything you see is produced by just one man.
And while it may not take a Hollywood critic to tell you that the quality of some of this work isn’t exactly banging on the door for a Grammy or an Oscar, it too shouldn’t take a genius to tell you it’s worth watching.
Pinpointing the reason(s) for Nick’s lack of commercial success could be an essay in of itself, however, it likely lies in his bizarre choice of subjects that has remained a barrier for the less open-minded viewer; although, in all probability, Nick’s limited budget for each of his chosen projects might have something to do with this too. However, this doesn’t take away from the craftmanship and wholeheartedness ever-present in his multi-disciplinary ‘DIY’ approach – if anything it is this that makes him and his work so admirable.
Different aspects of Nick are more evident in certain fields of his work more than others. For example, his books have allowed him to let loose his most outrageously funny tales, while his short films indulge in action – both often with a sci-fi or pop-cult twist. Yet it is in his music and social media posts where we see a much more controversial side of him, usually fuelled by political or social events and religious beliefs.
While much of Nick’s humour appears in his social media posts – especially his comedic goldmine of a LinkedIn profile (which has now unfortunately been removed). We gain an insight into Nick’s mind in posts that appear to show the process of him thinking-out-loud – it is a most enjoyable experience, in which talk of mischief and wickedness in surreal hypothetical realities is discussed.
In his music we again see Nick’s wit. His latest album (‘Illuminated’), released on Halloween, features tracks titled: ‘Corona Thrills – A Sonic Letter to the Government’ and ‘420 Conspiracy and the Israeli Protection Unit’, which were somewhat more light-hearted – and shorter – than some of the song titles on his previous album (‘Kid Dangerous’), which included classics such as, ‘G-Lock Ascension (144,000 Jews Are More Saved Than Most)’, ‘My First Happy Sabbath (Through the Conscious Wormhole and How I Saved the Day)’ and ‘Empyrean Minds (The Day We Nearly Died Laughing on LSD at Henley Regatta and Nearly Weren’t Saved at All)’
While most can enjoy Nick’s humour, the extreme nature of some of Nick’s work and beliefs can lead to hostility – especially in a traditional and conservative town like Ringwood where you don’t exactly need to be off-the-wall to stick out like a sore thumb. When Nick solemnly recalls these instances, miscommunication seems to be a reoccurring factor and unfortunately so does violence…
Having grown up in Ringwood it was not uncommon to see Nick from time to time, sometimes simply on his way to or from the shops or perhaps filming an alien dance routine in the car park of his block of flats. He can often be seen chatting to somebody that has happened to catch him doing something particularly peculiar; like shooting his nerf gun at the pigeons or posting mysterious CD’s through local resident’s letterboxes.
In fact, if you speak to any Ringwood local there is a decent chance they’ll have a tale or two of their own to share about Nick, although it will unlikely relate to any of the fascinating work he has produced. Indeed, it would be fair to assume that most of Ringwood’s residents are completely unaware of it, unaware of Nick’s ambitious, independent efforts, and creative flair. And whilse these people, as well of those who can’t look past the lewdness and crudeness, may never come to appreciate a truly creative and kind mind, those who have got to know Nick a little more personally think of him very highly.