Maggi Hambling Lavender Hill London 1984


As an art student I was on a quiz programme called Gallery, which was about art history and hosted by George Melly. It was 1984. Maggie was my team captain. Oddly I got most of our questions right including an obscure one about Aubrey Beardsley. I even got fan mail from a nice old gentleman with a huge art collection and one from Richard ‘Dickie’ Buckle (he was a famous ballet critic and curated the first Cecil Beaton show at the NPG)
I’d got on the programme because of my friendship with Patrick Procktor, he was on the other team.

This picture was taken a bit later and I can’t remember much about it except it was in her home in the Lavender Hill area of London and there was a beautiful old black & white photograph on the wall. It was of Maggie’s partner riding a horse. It was taken from the side and it looked very old fashioned and very upper class in that she wore only a white shirt, jodhpurs, high and sturdy leather boots and a riding ‘cap’ like huntsmen wear. Her leg position was slightly forward because of the cut of the saddle (a modern rider would have the leg directly under them – due to the cut of the modern saddle)
The horse was a Hunter and there was a sense of ease and independence in the image. It was classic and wonderful and I would imagine, a romantic ideal for a lesbian , in the same way a virile, handsome lumberjack would be for a gay man. Cliché alert, sorry

Maggie is fearless and funny.
During the filming of Gallery she rolled her own cigarettes from a tobacco patch in her lap.The reviewer said it looked as if she was eating fish and chips from a newspaper.

At the house to do the shoot, we looked at her studio then she went to the bathroom to touch up and said I mustn’t come in…so of course I went in… and took this picture. The shoot was done in under 15 minutes.

Every time I saw Maggi afterwards, she ignored me. At the time I couldn’t figure out why but later realised it was probably because I didn’t go back to her with the pictures – though I probably didn’t look at them myself for ages, I was always really slow – but I didn’t tell her this and I should’ve sent her them to choose one- I was young and naive and unaware of my responsibilities or wha might be expected of me.

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