Maggi Hambling is in danger of becoming a National Treasure. Born in Sudbury, she now lives in an idyllic riverside cottage in Suffolk and all her life she has loved the county of her birth. She was catapulted to national fame in 1980 when she was selected as the first ever artist in residence at the National Gallery. She has never looked back.
Her talent was first recognised by her art teacher at the age of 14. A year later Maggi presented herself to Cedric Morris and Lett Haines at their quirky East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing and thence, via Ipswich, to Camberwell and The Slade.
She has painted many penetrating portraits including Henrietta Moraes (a series), Michael Jackson, Francis Bacon, George Melly and Stephen Fry. In the late eighties there was a series of bull-fighting paintings. Other series have been laughs and sunrises. And of course there have been rollicking television appearances with George Melly and Melvin Bragg – and a large number of exhibitions all over Britain and abroad.
Maggi’s sea paintings began on a stormy day in November 2002 and the series continues to this day. As Cezanne had a compelling fascination with Mont St. Victoire, as Monet did with poplar trees and water lilies, so does Maggi with the North Sea in all its moods. She writes: “The approach of a distant wave gathering momentum is exciting. Then it becomes solid, reaches its climax, dissolves and retreats, and the whole sensual drama begins again. Moving water is a potent symbol of life. When a wave breaks, the skin of the surface meets the flesh of the depths.”’
“Growing up in South-East England on the Essex Marshes, I developed a love of wildlife in general and of birds and fish in particular. In my work I hope in some way to capture a gesture or attitude that will resonate with the viewer in the same way as it does for me. I try to represent my own emotional response to my subjects rather than pursuing correct anatomical detail.”