Interview British-American artist Nancy Cadogan
THE WICK: Talk us through a typical Monday.
Since March 8th, my Monday routine has wonderfully returned to some semblance of normality; as homeschooling has come to an end. It has returned to coffee and a brief read of the newspaper, a quick stretch before a long chat with my paintings. I have a blue armchair in the corner of the studio, which I like to sit in with my coffee and find out what the pictures are saying in the morning.
I have taken huge pleasure in my garden and strong coffee during lockdown– I love my stove top espresso maker, it takes just the right amount of time and gives a good injection of energy for the day. I always think about Dolly Parton in the morning. .. ‘wake up in the morning…’
I say a quick hello to the chickens and wake up the tortoise, Aesop, who lives in the studio. He arrived at the same time as some bunnies, so it seemed to make sense to call him Aesop after the fable The Hare and the Tortoise. Like many families, we doubled down on pets during this last year.
And then I am ready to go.
TW: You’ve recently achieved some fantastic career highs, including an exhibition at Brown’s Hotel and Rome’s Keats-Shelley House museum. What was the inspiration behind your latest work, Gusto?
NC: Thank you for being so kind. It was a huge honour to be invited to make a show for the Keats-Shelley 200 celebration. Gusto is a celebration of Keats’s life, his friendship with Joseph Severn and the legacy of his work, which lives with us. The whole thesis of the show evolved when we entered the first lockdown in March 2020 and the work came to echo Keats’s own time in quarantine and his premature passing from tuberculosis. It is inspired by his poetry, his bravery and his brilliance. It was an extraordinary coincidence to be making a show about Keats and his time in lockdown with TB whilst we were in lockdown.
TW: Did Covid-19 change the way you approach your work and painting?
Yes and no. In some ways, things are the same. I am still in my studio, at home, painting my pictures. But the mindset feels very different. Like everyone, I am sure, trying to keep the anxiety at bay is a challenge.
That said, I love the togetherness that has come through in the art world, and the whole world, over this time. I hope that sense of collaboration remains. I did two Saatchi live drawing and painting sessions over the first lockdown, and it was heartwarming to work alongside people from all over the world.
TW: If you had to live with only one artist in your home, who would you choose and why?
This is such a good question and impossible to answer. I would probably live with an early David Hockney, as his work was the original source and the inspiration for my becoming a painter. He’s ultimately positive and sees good in the world.
I grew up spending time looking at early Hockney, ‘The Berliner and the Bavarian’, ‘Doll Boy’ and the later ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy’, and all the incredible series of double portraits. I love the placement of objects within the space, and the sense of calm and the whole narrative that is created.
Or.. If we are really aiming for the sky, I would love to live with Vermeer. The sheer perfection of painting, alongside, the private domesticity of his work would be a dream. It is in the mind, and you, the viewer, are brought into the subject’s world.