A Royal calling as one of London’s finest Chelsea based artists, Peregrine Heathcote, renowned for his portraits artist from exotic Princes’, Britain’s aristocratic pillars of society from Lords, Earls, ‘grand’ Duchess’, silver screen talents, celebrities, pays his tribute to the late iconic legendary television darling of the nation Cilla Black .
His biography, education, prestigious international exhibition locations and client list, reads like a mind boggling tornado for the glamorous, colorful and fascinating jet set. But this is only achieved by his passion, determination, hard work and drive. Of course the Royal icing, liqueur laced glazed strawberry topping of all toppings is the charming enigmatic gentleman himself who has a strong backbone of support from his grounded family
Peregrine Heathcote is a prestigious artist of stature, with a quality who encapsulates the spirit, soul and energy of his subject through his brushstrokes, resulting in every canvas being a work of treasured art. A great foundation of education at Harrow, a childhood in Dubai, followed by his classical art training in one of Italy’s most romantic, inspiring locations resulted in him graduating from the Florence Fine Art Academy.
Imagine falling into his world of vintage modes of transport, ladies and gentleman in chic 1920’s attire, always effortlessly elegant with svelte curves, beauty personified from a bygone decadent area.
What is your technique in capturing the essence of your subject when sitting for a portrait?
Empathy and trust are a great platform for effective understanding and communication during the process of the portrait sittings, sprinkle in a bit of humour and both artist and sitter can have a lot of fun and hopefully make a great portrait, it’s certainly a joint effort!
Notable pillars of society have had the honour to be immortalised by you as you slow down their hectic lives, time being a precious commodity for many. Later they will be proudly mounted within their guilt gold frames to hang on the walls for generations in Britain’s grandest stately homes. Which sitter has inspired you most?
It would be difficult to say. The one sharpest in my memory would be Cilla . However , painting Prince Jeffrey of Brunei was certainly memorable as he was under house arrest at the time, ( sanctioned by his brother, the Sultan,for spending too much money)! But the captains of industry are always noteworthy. The really successful ones seem to have characters with their own gravitational pull, it effects people around them , draws them in and focuses their attention.
Your style is very distinct and of a vintage period. Share with us this particular decadent choice of inspiration.
My Mother was a true aesthete with great flair and a husband who was happy to indulge her penchant for beauty in her wardrobe. How lucky I am to have had such inspiration to guide my tastes. I always “doff” my painting hat to her when choosing and painting the clothes on the female figures in my narrative paintings.
And it goes without saying that my Father as a collector of military uniforms and helmets has engendered in me a liking for sharp tailoring. I am drawn to dress the male figures in my narrative pieces with an artistic nod in his direction.
I was very fortunate and indeed honoured to model for you at your Chelsea atelier . The rich smell of Linseed oil perforated on the canvases is sublime. Tell us more about the tools of your trade such as paint, brushes , technique. (Louis Mariette)
Without going too much into the detail, the paints I use are bound with Refined Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil, they are hand made using techniques which date back to the days of the Old Masters, they have a high pigment content with few fillers , making the colours in the finished paintings vibrant, true and durable with a greater resistance to fading.
The brushes I use are a combination of natural and synthetic hairs, stiff and soft, all from Green and Stone on the Kings Road , Chelsea, London, one of the most remarkable one-stop artist’s shops in the UK
Tell me more about your various choice of modes of transport, a distinct running signature feature in your work?
Travelling to different countries is certainly one thing that never fails to excite me!
So often it’s the exhilaration of the journey. I often portray transport from the 1950/1960’s in my narrative pieces. My maternal grand father was a test pilot , so I often portray aircraft he flew and noted in his log book.
On my paternal side , my other grand father was the multilingual Chairman for many years of the oldest Rolls-Royce Motor Car Club in the world, the 20-Ghost Club.
On his passing he left me a 1938 Rolls Royce Saloon and too young to drive I used to sit in it with my friends during the school holidays, making up stories of adventures without leaving the four walls of the garage!
I loved watching you on Star Portraits, a BBC television series of you competing with two other artists as the legendary Cilla Black sat for her portrait. Like you, I was so fortunate to meet her. My dear friend Marty Redman cheekily surprised me, by catching me off guard by bringing her announced. An entrance of epic Volcanic force, she spent half hour visiting me at my atelier, gorgeously evaporated the contents of a bottle of Veuve Clicquot , while hysterically entertaining me to the brink of me nearly loosing my dignity and literally ‘peeing in my bespoke Mauritian white beach linen trousers”! She had the energy and charisma of 20 people. To this day I never recalled one thing I said, but little chance I had as she sucked all the oxygen from the room and exited with just as much volcanic force stamina as her chauffeur whisked her away into the Sloane Square craziness.
What is the key part of anatomy that you feel makes an image an integral part of what the sitter is about and I guess I am perplexed how she sat still for so long?!
Working with Cilla was a project I am very lucky to have participated in. I started painting her at the London Palladium ( arguably the most famous theatre in the UK ) and unveiled the finished portrait of her at the Royal Academy , London. Cilla was totally charming and imbued all around her with her effervescence and Liverpudlian humour. The most notable parts of anatomy in any figurative artwork and in my portrait of Cilla are the hands, eyes and mouth , they are all our most expressive features, cable of transmitting our mood and feelings.
Preference – portrait or landscape?
HAHA, for multiple figured narrative paintings and “conversation pieces” I prefer the landscape format, but for single figure subjects as the name implies, definitely the “portrait” format
What advice would you give aspiring artists?
Never give up, believe in what you do and strive to make every piece of artwork better than the last as each piece will be your immortal signature . Make it good enough to put your name on!