Inside the Studio

Catherine Denvir

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I’m based in London, but I spend a lot of time in Italy; these contrasting locations permeate my work. Themes that I attribute to this hybrid of city and countryside include architecture within landscape, man’s fleeting embellishment of nature, the castle on a hill, the Shard on the horizon, the motorway through the desert, the castle is an ivy covered ruin, and one day the motorway will be a track.

I am interested in nostalgia. As the author, Tim Parks wrote, ‘Nostalgia for a time and place that never really was,’ or words to that effect greatly inspire me. I am interested in the  ‘once upon a timeness’ of life, and the metaphysical adventures of childhood, with its hovering presence of a half-understood world.

Although I have always worked as an artist, it is only in the past five or six years that I have taken up painting. So, it is a comparatively new medium and method for me. My prime motivation is quite simply the actual mental and physical process of creating an image, as well as the initial inspiration and development of the idea. I create rudimentary sketches and ideas that are transformed into quite finished drawings. I use both digital and traditional methods that culminate with the final painting being executed in oils. I strive  throughout the whole process to capture the core essence and mood of the original idea.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Don’t be scared of the paint.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I mostly work in silence, well not exactly complete silence; I work to the ambient and eclectic sounds of the world outside, which I like.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
I love The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt. Some others include: Chardin’s House of Cards, a Pietro Longhi family group, a portrait by Goya of The Duchess of Alba and her dog; a Patrick Caulfield interior; a Pessagio Urbano by Mario Sironi; a Claude Monet landscape; and something by Michael Borremans…

Who are your favorite writers?
Favorite writers include: Vladimir Nabokov, Elena Ferrante, Evelyn Waugh, Alberto Moravia, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Claudio Magris, Raymond Carver, and Norman Lewis.