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(Newcastle Stuckists)


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Nigella Lawson by Paul Harvey

1) Why did you paint Nigella Lawson?
Because it just seemed the right thing to do. I don't really paint many clebrities now but one day I saw her face surrounded by poppies.

2) Is it ironic?
I hope it's not ironic, it's not meant to be. She's an interesting and complex person. There have been lot's of ups and downs in her life and she also cooks on tv so I wanted to reflect these things.

3) Is any of your work ironic, eg putting it into elaborate gold frames?
The gold frames are certainly not ironic- my favourite gallery is the National and that's how paintings are displayed there. If I could afford it I would buy very expensive ones but I can't, so I buy cheap ones, but they're not cheap on purpose.

4) What is your response if other people find it ironic?
I don't care, they can think what they want.

5) Is it to do with the art political situation with Saatchi? After all, he has been featured heavily on the Stuckism site?
I think that situation must have something to do with it, but it's not a big deal. I think she fits in with others I have painted like Tara and Madonna. I like the way she cooks.

6) Is it appeasement or some attempt at building a bridge?
It's best to build bridges by beginning at each end and meeting in the middle - that's how the Tyne Bridge was built. I don't think Saatchi is really interested in contributing, so no, I don't think it has anything to do with that. It is (probably) not Nigella's fault that he likes crap art; he's liked it for years.

7) You often paint beautiful women - are you smitten by Nigella's fabled beauty?
I think I may be.

8) What the hell are those oblong things in the bottom corners of the painting?
They are opened packs of butter and come from one of her books. I tried to think of sexy food and butter came to mind for some reason.

9) Why do you paint such flattering portraits?
Are they flattering? Don't you think people are lovely?

10) Is your work just fantasy and escapism?
If I wanted to do fantasy and escapism, I would draw comics. The painting is complex with elements that contradict each other. In my more negative moods I think of it as quite a dark painting, although I'm not necessarily happy about that.

11) What would you say if you were accused of just painting something beautiful but superficial?
It's incredibly hard to produce something of beauty - if I have ever managed that, wouldn't it be enough?

12) Are you going to paint an equivalent of Charles Saatchi?
I have thought about it, but am waiting until an idea comes to mind. I don't really want to paint him surrounded by dead sheep, although he might like the idea of that.

13) Who are you going to paint next?
There is a girl called Anna that I saw on a short film. She smoked well so I may do her next. I am also planning to paint Elsa Dax, whom I watched signing books at the Stuckist opening in Paris - she has soul and I'd like to document that fact.

14) How is your work a way forward for art, or is it just stuck?
It works best as part of the Stuckist movement - it has strength because of the individuals involved in the movement and the common beliefs that we have. Individually my work may look different to other Stuckist work, but we don't share styles; we share a philosophy, which is more important I think. There are many contemporary artists who are stuck, but I don't think there are many in the Stuckist movement. We are forging ahead - one day the critics will catch up

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