Thursday, April 30, 2020


My mother came from a French working class family. Blanche was outspoken, combative, intuitive, filled with joie de vivre but also very private - "ailleurs" she said of herself, elsewhere. She started work at fourteen making hats. She was leaving work one day aged about nineteen and beautiful when my father happened to pass by. He stopped and invited her to dinner. She brushed him off but he came back every evening at the same time until she agreed. Her life changed totally from then on and they were together until the end.

The penultimate photo is of Blanche at 97 at her first exhibition. She began painting at 94 and was given an exhibition at the Mary Ward Centre in London. The last photo is of one of her paintings The Searcher.. She died in August 2001.
Young Blanche in Paris
Blanche newly arrived in America


Can't have old photos of self without including the two remarkable individuals who brought me into the world. Their influence was branded on my soul from day one and I guess is still there.

I tried at various times to paint my father's portrait from life but I couldn't 'get' him, he was too close and too elusive. He died in 1996 aged 101 and I painted a portrait of him in 2003 (second photo) from the first photo below, of the young Sacha, newly arrived in Paris from Russia. The third photo of him was taken in 1955 by Hungarian photographer George Cserna whom I met in New York.

My father newly arrived in Paris from Russia

Sacha as a young man. NdA 2013. Oil on canvas.
My father in New York 1955. Photo by George Cserna.


This photo of me at nine in Los Angeles was the basis of two artworks many years later in London.

From Artist's book Mozart, Matisse, Blanche et Moi NdA 1990
Nathalie at Nine. NdA 1981. Oil on wood.


Apparently it was a thing in Paris in those prehistoric times to have your kids photographed professionally, after their hair had been styled in the latest fashion. Apparently we didn't protest much, not even to the stupid poses, although I look a bit less pleased than my sister Annie. She is four years older.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Finding one old photo, of course you start finding others and before you know it you're delving deep into your past. I love old family photos. No matter how blurred or scarred by time, they still vibrate with life and memories which may not be memories at all but reconstructions of moments. They're like novels that you want to read, find out what the plot is, who the characters are. I particularly like photos of two or three family characters together -what are they saying? what is the rapport?

Below are a few from the treasure trove of photos I have. Some have served as material for paintings or constructions. Is one's experience of family, from childhood onwards, the most powerful creative raw material?

My mother, my older sister and me in Royan, France

With my father in Paraguay.

9 year-old me in Los Angeles with parents and sister Annie.

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Don't know where the thing started of posting photos of one's self aged 20 but there's a lot of them around. Another distraction from lockdown? Found this one of twenty two year-old moi in New York with my little brother then aged six. Sellotape mars the top of the image but we are cute anyway.

Friday, April 17, 2020


There's a fun online thing happening started by the Getty Museum with people re-creating famous artworks with three household items. Today I decided to have a go but with only one household item (me) aided by a black eyeliner pencil then some digital tweaking. I ike the character that emerged and wouldn't mind being him for a while.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Steven Appleby’s new graphic novel Dragman has been glowing quietly on my table since it was published last month. Glowing quietly are the words I’ve been looking for to sum up the lingering effect this book has. At 336 pages it’s a hefty volume but there’s nothing heavy about it. With a light, airy touch it achieves the tour de force of making a complex subject - being a transvestite - into a surreal, wildly inventive superhero thriller while never losing sight of tenderness, vulnerability and everyday domestic life. The trademark Appleby style of drawing, simultaneously relaxed and nervous, is enhanced by Nicola Sherring’s delightful watercolouring. The story is told in comic-strip frames, interspersed with poetic and humorous prose passages and some fabulous double page spreads. The shy, awkard, troubled August Crimp, married to Mary Mary and Dad to baby Gulliver, is Dragman when he puts on women’s clothes. You must get this book to find out what happens. I trust it will have the serious recognition as well as the popular success it deserves.

It was a happy coincidence that Steven Appleby was one of the judges for the 2019 Laydeez Do Comics awards and I won the Rosalind Penfold award for a graphic novel-in-progress by an artist over fifty. It was at this event that I met Steven and asked if I could paint him. I had always admired his work, very much on my wavelength, and on the several occasions he came to sit for me we talked and became friends.

My portrait of Steven Appleby. 2019. Oil on canvas. 50 x 61 cms

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Whatever this day means to you, chocolate eggs, trees in bloom, rebirth, reincarnation, Resurrection or just another Sunday in isolation, I wish you everything your heart longs for. To all those who are in pain or mourning I wish you rescue and a warm hand to hold.

The image below is from a magnificent illuminated Apocalypse of Saint John by Beatus de Liebana, an obscure monk in Northern Spain circa11th century. I have a huge, heavy volume with many illustrations from this remarkable work of art which I love for its powerful, innocent joy, dazzling colour and structure. It speaks to me. I hope it resonates with you too.
Selene Guerrier


The top mask I bought in a hardware shop. I drew the mouth with lipliner but now it's Planet of the Apes. It's bulky, hot and uncomfortable and I haven't worn it anywhere yet. The bottom one I started making yesterday but I haven't worked out the ties. I stitched the mouth - it moves if I move my mouth. The mask is too small, too tight and wouldn't protect against anything. But it's fun.

Monday, April 06, 2020


When I wake up in the morning-two things often happen simultaneously:
1. My right hand is assailed by pins and needles.
2. My brain spews out ideas like a fax machine.

Those two things may not be related but when they subside I sometimes write and/or draw the ideas. Below is what emerged three mornings ago.The new word OLDERLY was among the ideas and you may use it if you qualify - that is if you’re old but in the prime of life, despite the pinning and needling.

Thursday, April 02, 2020


It seems that self-isolation is spurring many people to post selfie videos to entettain themselves and their isolated friends and families. Maybe this will become a new artform. I had a go at 3am today but I use my laptop, not my phone, as most people do, so the technicalities are somewhat trickier. Hence the minimal audio.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020


For some reason it's always 3pm.
Ten minutes later it's 7pm.
Then it's 3am.
I don't understand time.
Time doesn't understand me.

Is this a poem?

THIS IS ART. NdA 2012. Oil on canvas. 20"x 24" (50 x 60 cms)