Maggi Hambling: BBC documentary celebrates 'extraordinary' artist

  • Published
Maggi Hambling
Image caption,
The documentary Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint marks the artist's 75th birthday on Friday, 23 October

A new documentary aims to celebrate "one of Britain's greatest artists" and put her firmly in the public's consciousness, its director said.

Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint is on BBC Two on Saturday night.

Randall Wright said it showed her "ferocious" side and the lesser known "private and fragile Maggi the artist".

Hambling, who has turned 75, said: "I'm used to making portraits of people and Randall has made a portrait of me and that's quite alarming."

She discovered her love for painting aged 14 and shows no signs of slowing down having opened a new exhibition at London's Marlborough Gallery of works painted during lockdown.

Image source, Maggi Hambling
Image caption,
Hambling's new exhibition in London features works painted during lockdown, including Covid Spring
Image caption,
Hambling's Scallop sculpture was unveiled in 2003 in Aldeburgh and is a tribute to composer Benjamin Britten, who founded the Aldeburgh Festival

In the documentary she reveals she wakes up at 05:00 every day and the first thing she does is draw.

Her works include land and seascapes, including the celebrated North Sea paintings, portraits, paintings of the dead and sculptures in tribute to composer Benjamin Britten and writer Oscar Wilde.

"The artist doesn't choose the subject, the subject chooses the artist," she said.

"If something moves me sufficiently I'm forced to do something about it in my work."

Media caption,
Maggi Hambling made a film about her North Sea art for BBC Video Nation in 2009

Maggi Hambling: The 'ferocious' artist

  • Maggi Hambling was born in Sudbury, Suffolk and divides her time between the county and London
  • She went to Amberfield School in Nacton, the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Hadleigh, Ipswich School of Art, Camberwell and the Slade art schools in London
  • Hambling became the first artist in residence at The National Gallery in 1980
  • She is known for what she describes as "rebellion lesbionic antics", including sporting a moustache when she was a team captain on Channel 4's Gallery art quiz show in the early 1990s
  • Hambling is usually photographed with a cigarette which she says is to show it is important for people to have freedom of choice
  • She was appointed CBE in 2009
  • Visit the Maggi Hambling website
Image source, Maggi Hambling
Image caption,
Self portrait (angry) is in the current London exhibition
Image caption,
In the BBC Two documentary, Hambling reveals she wakes up at 05:00 every day and the first thing she does is draw

Mr Wright said it was an "incredible accolade" for the BBC to produce a one-off documentary on the painter who was the first artist in residence at the National Gallery.

"Maggi is one of our greatest artists and perhaps the greatest living artist we have, but it's also true that she may not have been noticed.

"It's high-time a film was made and we look at her work and see the poetry and originality," he said.

Image caption,
Hambling's Oscar Wilde sculpture near Trafalgar Square in London was unveiled in 1998 by Stephen Fry, who has had his portrait painted by her
Image source, Maggi Hambling
Image caption,
Early morning sketches on Aldeburgh beach resulted in oil paintings such as Crest Of A Wave (2009)
Image source, Maggi Hambling
Image caption,
Birds have featured in Hambling's earlier work, including cormorants seen off the Suffolk coast, and a parrot from St Lucia

Mr Wright, who has also made films about David Hockney and Lucian Freud, said he wanted to "break through the performer who does not want to answer questions, to understand the origins of her work".

He added: "She is a ferocious, powerful, emotional, wonderful, uncompromising character who pours out her feelings about what can often be frightening things - war, disaster, death - in her paintings. All of that is extraordinary."

Maggi Hambling: Making Love With The Paint is on BBC Two on Saturday at 21:00 BST and is available on the iPlayer afterwards.

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.