Anthea Hamilton on Kitchen Gossip and Catholic Guilt
On Tuesday night, a group of Loewe-clad guests in fuzzy flannels and brushed suede ensembles crossed the River Thames to London’s Chlapham neighborhood, where the Spanish luxury brand hosted an intimate dinner to mark the second annual Loewe Foundation and Studio Voltaire Award. In a quaint courtyard wafting with the smell of tomato-scented candles, hungry attendees—including the likes of Luca Guadagnino, Taylor Russell, Dan Levy, Ruth Negga, and Russell Tovey—rubbed shoulders and discussed their Frieze itineraries before retiring to Studio Voltaire’s makeshift dining room. Inside, Loewe’s creative director Jonathan Anderson and Studio Voltaire’s director Joe Scotland, welcomed supper-goers to feast on an autumn-inspired menu and commemorate the night’s prize, a major award that grants under-represented artists access to rent-free studio space at Studio Voltaire, a bursary, and ample opportunities to enhance their craft. Between courses, we snuck into a quiet corner with Anthea Hamilton, the British contemporary artist and close Loewe collaborator, to talk art, dinner party gossip, and find out if she’d ever devote a future work of art to Bridgerton heartthrob, Jonathan Bailey.
MITCHELL NUGENT: We’re here at the Loewe dinner. What’s the vibe?
ANTHEA HAMILTON: It’s like hungry bellies and hungry minds.
NUGENT: I’m ready for dessert. What are you wearing?
HAMILTON: Oh, is it bad to say? But I’ve been styled by my nine-year-old kid, and so I’m wearing a pair of brown Loewe boots, vintage leather gilet, and a top I normally just wear around the house with a belt from being a teenager. It’s a rock look.
NUGENT: Looks fab. We’re here tonight to celebrate the Studio Voltaire Award and its recipients. Is there an aspect of the prize that you find particularly impactful?
HAMILTON: It’s a very soft and generous award, but doesn’t make any demands on the people who come to find their way to the program, which I think is really nice. It’s not a greedy ask from them, but I think it’s good for the rest of the ecosystem of the institution to kind of work hard to support and learn from them too, so I think it’s good because it comes both ways in that way.
NUGENT: What’s your favorite part of being part of the Studio Voltaire community?
HAMILTON: Everything. It’s manifold because it does many things, but I really like kitchen gossip and fresh produce from the garden, like eating tomatoes straight off the vine.
NUGENT: Speaking of gossip, what’s the best tidbit you’ve heard tonight?
HAMILTON: Oh my gosh. It was something juicy. Super juicy. It involved Canada.
NUGENT: Those scandalous Canadians. You’re sandwiched between Luca Guadagnino, Taylor Russell, and Jonathan Anderson. What kind of person do you think makes for the best dinner party companion?
HAMILTON: Someone who’s got a weird laugh is always a really good person because then they get everybody else going, it’s infectious.
NUGENT: What are you most excited to see at Frieze this week?
HAMILTON: In a very close to home way, my partner, Nicholas Byrne, is showing a whole host of new paintings with a gallery called at VI, VIII, and they’re on fire, those paintings. And then in a more self-absorbed way, there’s a portrait of me and my family painted by Patrizio Di Massimo, which is funny to see. And then work-wise, all the mess of it altogether I like to see. Old friends doing new things, and yeah, the classics also, it’s always fun.
NUGENT: It’s like a little reunion. And now we’ll just do some classic Andy Warhol questions. Who are your dream dinner party guests, living or dead?
HAMILTON: I would take a classic Grace Jones, please. And then I would have, let’s see, Marguerite Duras, the writer. Ima-Abasi Okon, who is an incredible artist. And then who would be the last, let’s think. Maybe Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, I like him.
NUGENT: Are you collecting art?
HAMILTON: No, I don’t want anything [laughs].
NUGENT: What are you reading right now?
HAMILTON: I just finished reading The Screens by Jean Genet.
NUGENT: Do you think Americans have good taste?
HAMILTON: Here and there.
NUGENT: Good answer, very diplomatic of you. Do you dream?
NUGENT: Do you dance at home?
HAMILTON: Yes, I do. Not much. It’s like a rare flower opening in the desert. And then I would dance for 20 minutes. Everyone’s shocked, and then it stops again for another six months.
NUGENT: Why can’t it just be magic all the time?
HAMILTON: Catholic guilt.
NUGENT: Ha! A very Warholian answer. And before I forget, I heard you’ve had a funny encounter with Jonathan Bailey. Will his perfect face ever make it into one of your works someday?
HAMILTON: I told him that it would not, but maybe I was lying because I was very impressed with how pretty his face was.
NUGENT: It is quite stunning. He should be shown during Frieze.