November 8, 2022 09:45 AM

Meet Mick Oxley: Craster’s Seaside Artist

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We all have our own little ways of relaxing and escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whether that is taking a warm bubble bath, going on a refreshing hike, and for someone like Mick Oxley, painting a beautiful seascape is the best way to unwind; as Pablo Picasso expertly put it:

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Mick is the resident seaside artist in the quaint fishing village of Craster, which is home to five of our Catch the Breeze Retreats properties, MiddleriggCraster ReachRock LobsterHarbourway and Driftwood. We have had the pleasure of knowing Mick for a number of years and have also had the fantastic opportunity to commission some artwork from him for our harbourside cottage Middlerigg. Therefore, we want our lovely guests to get to know him just as well as we do, so let us introduce to you Craster’s own Mick Oxley.

The Early Years

Mick’s story begins in 1953 in Dilston, Corbridge, where he spent his childhood days. Mick reminisced about the good old days and explained, “From rural beginnings, life was spent on the banks of the Tyne at Dunston then Whickham. Despite its semi-industrial setting, we had lots of fields and woods to discover and football games to be played on narrow, cobbled streets.” There is nothing quite like the feeling of nostalgia that a cobbled street brings us, especially when fondly thinking back on childhood shenanigans! But of course, childhood soon turned into teenage years and adult responsibilities; Micks remembers, “My school career was a slightly damp squib and I finally walked away prior to my 16th birthday.” However, Mick certainly is not a quitter and continued, “After years of menially stamping family allowance books, emptying dust bins and labouring in a factory, I was convinced to take some O and A levels. So, at the grand old age of 23, I took myself off to university!” It just goes to show, life does not have one set path for everyone to follow. So, what happened next for Mick? Well, after completing university with flying colours, Mick remained in Bradford and taught physical education and art for 13 years, and soon after began his journey into becoming a full-time artist.

An Artist’s Journey

After taking time to recover from a period of ill health, he and his family up and moved to the serene village of Craster, and they have not looked back since. Mick commented, “I have stayed in Craster all this time because of the quality of life it afforded us as a family. It is just a beautiful, tranquil place to spend your time. I feel lucky to have found it.” While settling into his new life in Craster, Mick discovered his natural talent for painting after joining a painting and drawing class in the village hall. Mick went on to explain, “I joined the art class out of curiosity – to see if I could enjoy painting, not having a clue that I would be able to do it. It was as much of a surprise to me as anyone! And we had a great teacher who taught me lots and encouraged me.” And soon began Mick’s passion and love of painting, and we are sure it would be easy to feel inspired by the picturesque scenery of Craster and Mick certainly agrees with this. Craster is a historical village with deep and ancient roots to the past, from generational family-owned businesses and perfectly maintained fisherman cottages, the beauty of Craster is certainly one to behold. And who can forget the star of the show, the ocean, the main subject matter Mick is renowned for.

Like everyone, Mick has his own daily routine to help him relax, get inspired and take in the miraculous views from Craster’s shoreline. Mick explains, “Every morning, I take a photograph around sunrise; I now have nearly 9000! These provide me with a fantastic resource; being in a wheelchair, I work from the studio and the photographs are invaluable.” From there, Mick will work in his gallery, creating unique works inspired from that morning’s sunrise. Now, some people might say, “Aren’t all sunrises and sunsets the same?” Not so in Mick’s eyes. He can see the tiny differences between each day’s sky and waters, expertly capturing the mood and movement within his art. Mick has harnessed this skill over time, he said that “After a few years in Craster, I had focused on seascapes. It seemed only logical – a lot of my time was spent looking out to sea, watching the colours change, almost like a kaleidoscope.” He continued, “When I paint, I am almost transported to another form of consciousness, away in my own world, not thinking of the general clutter that can be life. It becomes like a meditation.” Another beautiful quote from famous artist, Thomas Merton, further encapsulates this feeling:

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

For Mick, art is his true form of escapism and tranquillity. As the quote suggests, Mick can forget reality and make a new one in the form of his artist expression, which he has found has really helped with this mental health and wellbeing. Mick further explained, “Art became a healing force for me – it helped me come to terms with life in a wheelchair. I went from thinking about what I couldn’t do, to considering what I could do.” Art and nature truly do have a transformative effect on the mind, body and soul, and we commend Mick on being able to turn a passion into a thriving business, much like how our founder, Clive, created Catch the Breeze Retreats from a love of tourism and property development.

It has been thanks to Mick’s determination and skill that he has been able to become an acclaimed artist thanks to his recognisable and desirable art style that utilises tactile textures and purposeful colours to bring his art to life. This eventually led Mick to opening ‘The Mick Oxley Gallery’. But just like most things in life, hard decisions needed to be made before hand. Mick described how “Before opening the gallery, I found myself at a crossroads; to work through other galleries or stay and sell from Craster.” Mick decided to stay in Craster for quality of life and confirms, “I feel I made the right choice.” Mick managed to open his gallery in 2008 and credits the support of his family and the love of the Craster community in making his dream a reality.

A Commission for Middlerigg

As we previously mentioned, we have known Mick for several years and our founders, Clive and Lynne, as well as our PA and estate manager, Sally, have had the opportunity to work with Mick on a few different projects. So of course, when our cosy stone walled property Middlerigg needed some artwork, we knew Mick was the man for the job.

The process began with a lovely trip from Mick to Middlerigg where we decided on commissioning two art pieces, one for the kitchen and one for the living room. From here Mick, much like when he takes his morning meander around Craster’s shoreline, took in his surroundings and thought about the colours, textiles and furniture in the rooms. The kitchen is a modern yet rustic room with sleek and sophisticated grey cabinets and countertops which are contrasted by the tactile whinstone feature wall. The lounge on the other hand utilises pops of tranquil and calming blue and grey tones alongside oak wood furnishings for added warmth. Mick commented, “I found the Middlerigg room exquisitely decorated and furnished, and I reflected this in my artwork.” He continued, “The inspiration for the paintings came from the sea and the sky, its colours, textures and movements with a few subtle references to the furniture and textiles in Middlerigg so that both the room and the art complimented each other.”

As a result of Mick’s time, dedication and natural artistic flair, he was able to create two beautiful and dramatic pieces of art that perfectly harmonise with Middlerigg and its interior design. A reason Mick’s art resonates with us so strongly here at Catch the Breeze Retreats is the emotion it conveys. A favourite artist and inspiration of Mick’s, Len Tabner, is fascinated with extreme landscapes, and has been known to say:

“My work is concerned with the experience of being in, rather than merely looking at, the landscape. I am trying to express the whole feeling of being present in a place as well as the presence of the place itself.”

Mick also feels similarly about experiencing the elements when painting and capturing the ever-changing landscape through texture and colour. As a result, his art transports you to the very moment he has painted, and this is what makes his art so special. For Catch the Breeze Retreats guests who want to take a piece of Craster back home with them Mick offers 10% off when you purchase an original artwork from his gallery; we are sure once you step into his inspiring gallery you will find it hard to just pick one!

And while you are there, or even if you are perusing his online store, why not buy one Mick’s famous calendars that are filled with beautiful shots from his @SeaSkyCraster account on Twitter. All the proceeds from his calendars are lovingly donated to the NUFC Fans Food Bank who will use the donations to help feed the community.

For further information on our properties and their availability all year round contact us on 01829 830 388 or email at And do not forget to tag us in any pictures you may take and use the #MyCTBR, we love seeing your fabulous pictures and all the fun you have whilst staying with us in our properties.

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