Maggi Hambling: BBC documentary celebrates extraordinary artist

Maggi Hambling: BBC documentary celebrates extraordinary artist

A new documentary aims to celebrate “one of Britain’s greatest artists” and put her firmly in the public’s consciousness, its director said.

Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint is on BBC Two on Saturday night.

Randall Wright said it showed her “ferocious” side and the lesser known “private and fragile Maggi the artist”.

Hambling, who has turned 75, said: “I’m used to making portraits of people and Randall has made a portrait of me and that’s quite alarming.”

She discovered her love for painting aged 14 and shows no signs of slowing down having opened a new exhibition at London’s Marlborough Gallery of works painted during lockdown.

In the documentary she reveals she wakes up at 05:00 every day and the first thing she does is draw.

Her works include land and seascapes, including the celebrated North Sea paintings, portraits, paintings of the dead and sculptures in tribute to composer Benjamin Britten and writer Oscar Wilde.

“The artist doesn’t choose the subject, the subject chooses the artist,” she said.

“If something moves me sufficiently I’m forced to do something about it in my work.”

Mr Wright said it was an “incredible accolade” for the BBC to produce a one-off documentary on the painter who was the first artist in residence at the National Gallery.

“Maggi is one of our greatest artists and perhaps the greatest living artist we have, but it’s also true that she may not have been noticed.

“It’s high-time a film was made and we look at her work and see the poetry and originality,” he said.

Mr Wright, who has also made films about David Hockney and Lucian Freud, said he wanted to “break through the performer who does not want to answer questions, to understand the origins of her work”.

He added: “She is a ferocious, powerful, emotional, wonderful, uncompromising character who pours out her feelings about what can often be frightening things – war, disaster, death – in her paintings. All of that is extraordinary.”

Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint is on BBC Two on Saturday at 21:00 BST and is available on the iPlayer afterwards.

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