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Issue 11

Frieze Masters ‘Studio’: Maggi Hambling

The British artist talks about her workspaces in London and Suffolk and how time in the studio is ‘real time’

BY Maggi Hambling in Frieze Masters , Interviews , Videos | 06 OCT 23
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Maggi Hambling: The best time of the day in the studio is 5am in summer and 6am in winter, when I make a drawing to renew the sense of touch each day. No one telephones, the world is mine and optimism abounds. In London, the studio is the entire top floor of my house, where I have lived since 1984. In Suffolk my studio is larger, with a glass roof above the painting wall. Both floors were for many years the biggest ashtrays in London and Suffolk – no longer so since my heart attack in New York last year. No studio is ever enormous enough and I wish I were a poet who only needs a shelf for exercise books. For me, time inside the studio is REAL time; outside it is just the rest ...

George, a skull belonging to Maggi Hambling, undated
George, a skull belonging to Maggi Hambling, undated

Among the objects in my studio is a skull: George, who is minus a jawbone, has been mine since 1969, given to me by a friend. I have silent conversations with him and I drew Henrietta [Moraes] doing the same thing. She haunts my Suffolk studio as a plaster sculpture titled Henrietta Eating a Meringue [2001] and in London as three small paintings of her head, her mouth and her ghost. A photograph of Henrietta is transferred from sketchbook to sketchbook. She remains my muse.

Maggi Hambling, Henrietta, 1999, oil on canvas, 26 × 31 cm
Maggi Hambling, Henrietta, 1999, oil on canvas, 26 × 31 cm

As told to Livia Russell.

Further Information

Frieze Masters and Frieze London take place concurrently from 11-15 October 2023 in The Regent’s Park, London. Studio is on view at Frieze Masters for the duration of the fair. 


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Maggi Hambling (b. Sudbury, Suffolk 1945) is a contemporary British painter and sculptor. Hambling studied first at Cedric Morris’ and Arthur Lett-Haines’ East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, before going to the Ipswich (1962-64), Camberwell (1964-67) and Slade (1967-69) Schools of Art. In 1980 she was invited to be the first artist in residence at the National Gallery, London. Hambling’s work has been the subject of many solo museum exhibitions since 1980, including two solo exhibitions at The National Gallery, London, in 1981 and 2014; solo exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in 1983 and 2009. Hambling’s latest series of paintings, Maelstrom, will be shown at Frankie Rossi Art Projects in London 5 October - 24 November.