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Interview with Notting Hill artist Rachel Glittenberg

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the upcoming gallery show by Notting Hill-based artist Rachel Glittenberg – her first solo show in London – that will take place at the Ice House Gallery in Holland Park.

Rachel very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions about the show, her paintings and her other work and collaborations – read up on the interview below. Interspersed in between the questions and answers are some more of Rachel’s beautiful paintings – be sure to also check the previous post on her show for some more images of her work.
Rachel Glittenberg
Finally, do be sure to visit Rachel’s show – titled Embracing Beauty in the Realm, it will be held at the Ice House Gallery, Holland Park, W8 from 10th to 25th September.
I was very interested read that you gave up your full-time job after 14 years to make the brave leap into the art world! What inspired you to start a whole new career? (If you don’t mind me asking, what was your previous profession?) I have worked in Market Research for the past 14 yrs as a Senior Project Manager. I had originally studied a BA and MA in Fine Art and Arts Administration and worked in the area for a while after graduating but then became disillusioned with not earning enough money, so I went in to an office environment and got a bit too comfortable. I picked up my art work again 2 years ago to this month actually, when I split up with my husband. We are back together again now, but the pain of the break up and leaving my marital home brought back my desire to draw. I am now so grateful for that awful time in my life as I now see it provided me with the raw energy and emotion that I obviously so needed to get back in to my work.

What is your background in art? How or why did you become interested in art and want to become an artist? I have always drawn since I can remember and would always be drawing as a child and teenager. It’s not something I can describe so much, it’s more just a feeling in me that I have that I must produce art work. I am unhappy if I am not doing this. I think drawing and painting keeps me connected to myself and the world around me. I studied Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art and The University of East London and my MA at the University of East Anglia.

You mention that you’re based in Notting Hill, and your first London gallery show is at the Ice House in Holland Park (a wonderful venue!) in September – it must be very pleasing to have this exhibition so close to home, so to speak. Do you have any particular hopes or expectations for your first London gallery show? It is very exciting for me to be able to put on this show. I have had shows in the past but this is my first solo one. As far as expectations go, I can only put the work in and then let go, the results of the show are not in my hands as it were. I would love this show to be a platform for my work to help get it out in to the art world and public domain. For me, it’s already a success in that I will be able to show more people what I do, and what I love doing.

The exhibition is titled “Embracing Beauty in the Realm” and features flower paintings that symbolise relationships and their ever-changing nature. What was your inspiration for this exhibition? I have been doing some inner work on myself recently and because of that my life has changed a lot. Some of my close relationships are really changing. New relationships are blooming, others are moving away, some are undergoing transformations. Only one thing is for sure, they are all constantly flowing. My new work encapsulates how I see these events, as a cycle, akin to the seasons, a part of nature, which is why I have chosen to paint flowers. Flowers symbolise birth and death. Their life cycle is like my relationship cycles. New relationships being born, many out of old ones that have died, so in this case, death is something to celebrate. I find I only want to cling on to the old though, as it’s more comfortable. This is a very personal journey about letting those old notions go.

I also believe flowers are so exquisite to look at they deserve a 2nd and 3rd glance, which is why I fill my canvases with stunning flowers – to encourage the viewer not to be afraid to consider and linger upon some of the more beautiful and fragile aspects of their own lives and relationships. Taking a moment every now and again to notice such occurrences is invaluable, as it reinforces our one-ship with nature and our roots on this earth with ourselves and others. We cannot hold on to them, only accept and celebrate them as part of the inevitable flow of life. I believe these are the things that make us so unique and work to enrich and confirm our very existence.

You specialise in oil painting, producing some wonderfully vivid pieces. What is the background or reason for primarily using oil for your paintings? I love the freedom of using oils, they take ages to dry which means you can play around with the paint whilst it’s on the canvas. You can also mix them with different painting mediums to thin them out or thicken them up which changes the texture and look of the paint. I like their versatility, oh, and the smell!

I understand that you often choose nature or people as the subject matter for your work. Would you ever think about using the beautiful surroundings and green spaces or (sometimes beautiful, sometimes not so!) people of Notting Hill for your work? Oh, I do already. My inspiration comes from all over the place. It’s important that I go out and about to parks, exhibitions, to look at other artist’s work, to meander down Portobello etc, because this is where all my ideas come from – every day life. The beauty in everyday life, hence, Beauty in the Realm being the title of my new show.

For private commissions, you can also produce a photo album that shows the process behind the painting – which I think is an amazing idea! How do you produce these – in the sense, how much or how many steps of the process do you show? As I am creating a commission, I will photograph it at the end of each session. I will then produce a book full of fabulous images of the painting. It’s lovely to have a record of an artwork coming together in this way, something that can be kept for years to come. I think it adds an extra dimension to the painting itself.

Could you tell me a little more about the art workshops and classes that you run, who might they be suitable for? I run Art Taster Workshops, which are for adults at beginner/intermediate levels. I go through the basics of creating a painting from start to finish. I show you how I find my inspiration and ideas, the creative process of these concepts, and how I start to bring them alive on the canvas. I will also show you how to use different types of brushes and palette knives to create varying effects and illusions. The end result is to complete a painting and have fun in the process. This workshop is suitable for all sized groups or one on one tuition.

And about The North West London Art Trail that’s taking place at the beginning of October – how will you or your studio be participating? We are now called ArtNW10. We are a collective of artists from 5 studios in the North West London area who are putting on our first Art Trail on the 1st and 2nd October. We will be opening up our studios and have also included the local community to join our trail, so people can visit galleries along the way and get discounts in the local restaurants and bars. We will also be having a fabulous event where we sell anonymous postcards of original works of art for very affordable prices. We are very lucky to have had some great sponsors for our first year. We hope it will be a very exciting event that will put North West London art on the map.

What other exhibitions (or perhaps work) do you have upcoming that you could tell me about? After this show, I will be focussing on the Art Trail exhibition, I am also going to be painting a mural and have some private commissions I need to start, so it’s all go. I feel very blessed to be able to do this.

Read more about Rachel and her work on
Thanks very much to Rachel for answering these questions and also for giving permission to use images of her work here.

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