2 weeks ago

Irish Artist Dede Gold’s Weekends in the Cotswolds

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For Irish artist Dede Gold, town and country pursuits, travel and creativity are all part of the weekend line-up …

My weekend officially starts when the painting light fades on a Friday afternoon and I wrap up for my evening walk. It properly kicks off thereafter pouring a relaxing G&T, though the idea of purposefully hitting the off button is quite new to the “artist” me. This chapter started in my late 30s after realising a life in the law wasn’t my calling after all. I’ve now clocked up my Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours. If I’m on a roll the weekend might even be postponed, but never cancelled.

I live in Woodstock, in the Cotswolds – tranquillity on the fringes of fun. My studio is on the edge of the Blenheim Estate, where there’s always something intriguing going on, from shooting action scenes for 007 and Mission Impossible to the recent real-life robbery of a £5m sterling golden loo. The nearby literary festivals in Chipping Norton and Oxford are real spring highlights here – it’s a treat to go and listen to the authors behind the books.

First thing on Saturday morning, if I’m at home, I hit the yoga mat before painting until lunchtime. I tune into Dermot O’Leary and Graham Norton who bring a sense of home and humour into the studio and when Graham clocks off at 1pm so do I. I’m best known for my paintings of dogs – they are gorgeous muses, and the nicest people to paint. I’ve had great adventures through my work, here and in The Hamptons – I’ve painted for Julie Andrews’ family and a Baywatch actress – dog love is a universal currency.

I enjoy my own company but I’m definitely boring myself by Saturday lunchtime – then it’s time to see some friends. My best partner-in-crime is a great girlfriend Jess who I sat beside on my first day in Trinity [Law class of 1993]. She is now a writer living in Singapore. We meet somewhere in the world once a year where we now take in the culture as well as the chat and the Chablis. Last year it was Paris – this year it’s New York. A favourite spot is The Grey Dog in Mulberry Street, which I happened upon when I did a spontaneous house swap inspired by the film The Holiday. Time spent in The Met will always blow a hole through a creative block. On my last visit I had a serendipitous encounter with Deepak Chopra having “coincidentally” just read Synchrodestiny. I think some moments sneak up just to wink at you and let you know that all is well.

My downtime is sartorially my uptime: paint-splattered dungarees are far from my corporate wardrobe of old. I’m definitely a comfort bunny and wear Om & Ah tops with J Brand jeans. I can’t resist cashmere my Brora gems from my kind ex-husband have lasted four times longer than my marriage and are still going strong.

I often head to London for lunch, where I’ll meet Irish friends, who, like me, crisscross between Ireland and London, keeping a foothold in both places. We enjoy Gail’s in Notting Hill for casual get-togethers or the buzz of The Wolseley. Afterwards I’ll dive into some favourite gallery haunts. Must-stops are rooms 41 to 44 of The National Gallery, the Turners or the Clore and Singer Sargent’s portraits wherever I can find them, usually in the Tate. Dreamiest of all is The National Portrait Gallery which should be given on prescription to lift the spirits – a magical collection of work.

If I’m at home in Woodstock I will watch some racing or go to a Cheltenham meeting if it’s on. Having grown up in Ireland I’ve always followed national hunt [Gold is related to the Mullins racing dynasty] but I spent some years in the flat racing world of Newmarket too. I sometimes fly to Kerry for a family catch-up weekend of cycling, swimming and Dingle fun. Other weekends are spent with my folks [Paul and Angela Walsh] in Waterford, which always include a bike ride on the Greenway and a walk on Woodstown Beach.

On Saturday evening, if I’m in London, I will have supper out – Olivo is a favourite and feels like a Sardinian family kitchen randomly transported to Belgravia. It’s always fun – I had a singsong with Sean Connery there one night, accompanying him on the spoons. If in Woodstock it will be a quieter affair in The Crown with Irish, Greek and English friends: I seem to be drawn to a continental cocktail.

I love a lazy Sunday morning pottering to a good podcast – Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail series is brilliant and Emma Gannon’s Control Alt Delete inspiring if you have a mercurial concept of career like me. Then it’s a late, leisurely lunch; Daylesford Farm in the summer or Soho Farmhouse with friends is cosy in the winter. It is a ten-minute drive but feels a million miles away from my studio world and always a treat.

An evening by the fire with papers, Dragon’s Den and a good drama is my ideal Sunday evening. My schooldays at Newtown School, Co Waterford were very happy so I’ve never felt the Sunday night blues. I like structure – I’m definitely a progress junkie – so I organise my schedule for the week ahead. This year I’m setting up a consultancy to help artists to organise their creativity and get their work out there. I am also about to publish a book a roadmap for creatives – to help others where I can. It’s an interesting time in my life right now, bringing together the different threads of the chapters to date – and I’m excited. www.graphiteandgold.com

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