THE previous 18 months has left us mentally frazzled and now, on our route out to normality, we find ourselves feeling physically frazzled too. British American artist, Nancy Cadogan’s new exhibition on the ground floor of The Cadogan Hotel is “just the tonic after a global pandemic!”
Consisting of 12 paintings scattered throughout the hotel’s hallway and lobby, Cadogan’s All The Good Things exhibition brings us firmly back down to earth. Depicting familiar scenes of a steel kettle with a glowing red on button, a steaming cup of tea, a fallen plant pot ready to be re-planted, a vase of daffodils, a bowl of lemons, “These paintings reflect on ways to live, finding the quiet and relishing in moments when we are surrounded by nature.”
We all know this imagery before we’ve even placed our eyes on Cadogan’s rich colour palette, brimming with the vibrancy of Matisse and the depth of Jan Van Eyck. The ease of Cadogan’s subjects have a profound effect on the viewer—you immediately feel unintimidated and welcomed into the artist’s tranquil world.
However serene these works appear on the surface, Cadogan’s real life is another story, “A friend once came into the studio and said that my paintings had a sense of calm which my life did not. I thought this was quite funny, and rather irritatingly true.”
Created during lockdown, All The Good Things was Cadogan’s respite from the duties of motherhood and homeschooling, “I find I am quite frantic in my life, constantly thinking about my undone to do lists, and unwritten emails and telephone calls not made. So, when in the studio it is a joy to be able to get into the painting zone and the making of the work is one which is completely peaceful.”
Whilst life seems to have returned somewhat back to full speed, Cadogan recognises how lucky she was “to have been working on a project celebrating this very subject over lockdown and hope that it has become deeply part of my life.” Appreciating the quiet moments in life is indeed what Cadogan’s work is heralded for, with highlights including her much praised previous show, Mind Zero, at The Saatchi Gallery in 2019.
With her paintings narrative close to home, her mind was free to wander. At the start of lockdown Cadogan was ”finishing a show about Keats for a museum in Rome, relating to his time with tuberculosis and quarantine. That was a completely out of the ordinary experience, as I was making paintings about how his time mirrored our time, in terms of lockdown, and how life increasingly became one of the mind rather than the body.”
This connection between mind and body transcends furthermore in the soon to be released From Soil To Table, a book conceived by The Land Gardeners and ex Rochelle Canteen chef, Lulu Cox. Within this unique book, Cadogan’s oil paintings are paired with The Land Gardeners knowledge and Cox’s recipes. The trio are highlighting The Land Gardeners founding principle of “healing our soils, healing our plants and healing our planet.”
Their hopes with the book is to link the importance “between soil health and the food we eat. With ideas and wisdom of how to improve your soil health and with recipes from Lulu Cox they hope to inspire readers to nurture their soils and themselves.” For if your body feels better, your mind will too.
Cadogan’s appreciation for nature harks back to her childhood having won the first prize in gardening at school. Since then she has moved back into her childhood home in Northamptonshire, where she enjoys making her favourite recipe of Cox’s from the book, madeleines, “which I actually painted in Where the Wild Things Grow II, as madeleines are filled with such nostalgia and sense of childhood.”
Cadogan’s work is a much needed reminder in being grateful for what you have, working with it and being at peace with oneself. “Everything changes for me when I paint, and always has, which is I think, why I committed to spending my life making paintings back in 2002 on graduating from art school.”
Since then she has been dubbed the new Paula Rego and lauded as one of the Top 20 New British Artists by Tatler in 2008.
Post the exhibition you can still view Cadogan’s art at The Ned where she is one of 93 female artists to exhibit in the permanent Vault 100 exhibition themed around the disparity between male and female CEOs. Having previously shown in Oslo, New York and Miami, Cadogan’s All The Good Things proves that there’s no place like home.
by Charlie Newman
All The Good Things is free to view throughout the whole of October.
From Soil To Table is available to pre order here.
For more information on the artist, visit her website here.