Maggi Hambling’s Walls of Water
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 2nd December, 2014
I used to see Maggi Hambling quite often with our mutual friend George Melly when he was such a fixture of Soho and London’s bohemia, so it was good to catch up with her again at the private view of her Walls of Water monotypes at Marlborough Fine Art in Albermarle Street this evening. I can never visit Albermarle Sreet without remembering that it was there that the seeds of Oscar Wilde’s downfall were sown, at the now defunct Albermarle Club, when the Marquess of Queensberry left a card for Oscar at the porter’s lodge, accusing him of posing as a somdomite (sic). Maggi of course made a wonderful reclining statue of Wilde, which is located near Charing Cross Station, and in which his spirit is reclining half out of his coffin, a cigarette nonchalently held aloft — though philistines kept nicking the statue’s cigarette, so it is no longer replaced. Maggi Hambling, like David Hockney, is a great believer in the freedom to smoke, so I was not at all surprised when she lit up in Marlborough Fine Art tonight, doubtless to the dismay of the gallery. The large selection of black and white monotypes on show are in parallel to a larger-scale exhibition on currently at the National Gallery, again all about water. This has been a leitmotif of Maggi’s work recently, as if the crashing waves along the Suffolk coast that is so dear to her have some mystical power communicating not just the force of nature but also an interface between life and death, maybe sometimes even summoning memories of Maggi’s departed muse, Henrietta Moraes.