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Philippa Paterson | Imagined realities

Published on
November 24, 2022
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We are delighted to share the works and interview from the contemporary artist Philippa Paterson.

Painting scenes from memories 

Philippa Paterson who we discovered on Instagram was born in New York.

After a peripatetic life living in countries all over the world, the artist now lives and works in South Downs, England.

Who is Philippa Paterson?

Philippa Paterson paints imagined realities using family photos, images from the Internet and life models as source material.

Her interest in the human condition feeds her painterly imagination. Thinly applied paint jostles with areas of impasto in her figurative works.

Philippa has shown extensively in the UK as well as New York and Singapore. Her works hangs in private collections and galleries.

who is philippa paterson artist
Philippa paterson | Image courtesy the artist | Photo by John Paterson

The artist Interview

1. Please introduce yourself and your work:

I was born in New York and spent my early years living in various countries although Switzerland was our main base. 

I came to London at 18, went to Johannesburg at 20 and back to London at 22.  

contemporary oil painting, canvas
Oh La La | Oil on canvas | 100x100 cm | Image courtesy the artist

I spent time in Australia and France with my own family before settling in the South Downs in England.

My work examines old world glamour, nostalgia, lived experiences and memories.  

munchies art club, artist interview
Propping Up The Bar | Oil on canvas | 120x100 cm  | Image courtesy the artist

I look at family albums and the internet for source material. 

My brother is a cartoonist and humour plays a role in my work.  

Reading Bergson as a student made me realise the importance of the comic with serious intent.

bataclan, scenes, paintings, oil on canvas
Champagne Cocktails | Oil on canvas | 120x120 cm | Image courtesy the artist

2. You were born in New York, and then you lived in countries such as Switzerland, Cyprus, Japan, Australia, France and then you studied art in Sussex, London, Johannesburg, and Sydney. How do you believe this influenced you in your creative practice? 

My upbringing plays a huge role in the way I think.  

Displacement has affected my family for several generations.  

One belongs everywhere and nowhere.  

philippa paterson, artist feature
Happy Couple | Oil on canvas | 70x100 cm | Image courtesy the artist

I always enjoyed art growing up but it was not on the agenda in the French schools I attended. 

Although I was offered a place at the art school in Johannesburg, I left South Africa and studied French and history of art in London. 

I have followed a number of art courses  taught by artists whose work I admired.

munchies art club artist interview online art magazine
Le Bataclan I Oil on canvas | 120x120 cm | Image courtesy the artist

3. You have settled in the South Downs in England. What is life there like? Is there an art scene? Are you involved? I checked and London is over a 2 hour drive. Do you go there for art events? If you do, do you return the same day or do you stay there? 

The local art scene is fairly traditional. 

However I can easily access London for the day and visit exhibitions there. 

There are a number of galleries outside London which I frequent when I can. 

I have a small art community and the internet obviously plays a role.

artist interview, studio view, philippa paterson
Philippa Paterson Studio | Image courtesy the artist | Photo by John Paterson

4. Where is your studio? Do you work from home? Could you walk us through a work day? 

I work in a converted garage attached to my home.

I prefer to work in solitude and usually go there in the mornings. 

Later on in the day I may sit and look at the morning’s work and decide how I want to proceed the following day….what stays and what goes…  

I listen to an eclectic array of music from retro pop, classical, contemporary.  Some days I will just play with ideas on paper.

painting, once glamorous bataclan, moulin rouge
Le Moulin Rouge I Oil on canvas | 140x120 cm | Image courtesy the artist

5. Some of your work depicts the Bataclan and Moulin Rouge. Can you tell us more about these paintings? 

The Bataclan and the Moulin Rouge where venues my parents frequented. 

They were seen as glamorous in those days. 

From a feminist standpoint I am not so sure.  The change in attitude to such things is a subject I find fascinating.

painterly, oil on canvas, le bataclan, wall art
Le Bataclan II | Oil on canvas| 120x100 cm | Image courtesy the artist

7. Any recent or upcoming projects you would like to share? 

I currently have paintings in a couple of galleries. 

Livingstone St Ives are showing some works in their Bristol gallery. 

Darle and the Bear show my work in Woodstock where I am to have a solo show next year.

folie bergeres, an can dancers, scene, painting, philippa paterson
Les Folies Bergère III | Oil on canvas | 120x100 cm | Image courtesy the artist

6. What makes you happy?

Painting makes me happy...as do animals, walks in the countryside, travelling, family and friends.

artist international exhibitions, private collections
Les Folies Bergère II | Oil on canvas | 100x120 cm | Image courtesy the artist

Which keywords describe your work best?

Painterly, evocative, layered, narrative, figurative


Exhibitions, residencies, awards: 

Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, 2021
Shortlisted for Exceptional 2019, Collier Bristow Gallery
Shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018
Shortlisted for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Columbia Threadneedle Prize 2017
Shortlisted for the 2016 Ashurst Emerging Artist prize
Winner, National Open Art Exhibition 2016
Shortlisted for the National Open Art Exhibition 2015
Shortlisted for Chichester Open 2012
Selected for the Ruth Bochard Self-Portrait Competition 2011

Follow the artist on Instagram:


A big thank you to Philippa for sharing her work and her story with us to share with you!

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