Painting & The Importance of Good Wine: We Chat with Australian Artist Clive Croft

Clive Croft in his Waterloo studio. 

When did you realise you wanted to be an artist?

Golly, well I don’t think I intended on being an artist, it just happened, I was good at painting so I fell into it. As I child I was quite good but I didn’t start painting properly until I was about 17 when I went to night school to do drawing and painting, and because I was quite good they asked me to go to art school, so that’s when it happened.

Did you enjoy art school?

I loved it! It was at Curtin University, in Australia.

When did you sell your first artwork?

We had a show when I was at the art college and one of the kid's fathers had this building, it was an office block, and it was free for a couple of weeks so we took over the ground floor and had this show in it. I had three paintings in it and I sold two; one was to the university.

I don’t know what happened to the other painting, it was called, “homage to Benini” and the other was “Anubis” or something like that.

You work on a very large scale; why do your artworks require such proportions?

Because it’s human scale. You can go into the painting rather than focusing on something small, it’s more experiential I think, like a mood rather than just a painting. Does that make sense?

You’ve lived in London for 30 years, how have you seen its artistic culture change in that time?

Well I suppose, in the beginning there was no Tate modern. It’s completely changed, when the Tate opened it changed the whole scene. That was a landmark moment, before that there was no Guggenheim, there was no centre of modern art. It was the brilliant thing they did, and it turned out amazing, really.

What would you consider your biggest achievement as an artist so far?

When I was young I achieved quite a lot; I had plays, a radio station, was on TV, all that stuff. That was quite good. As a painter, there is before and then there is now; before I achieved a good level in Australia and now I am sort of pleased by my work at the moment, and have gone through a process.

Cathedral, 2016. Acrylic on canvas. 137 x 137 cm

You say you are pleased with your work at the moment, when you have been in a moment where you haven’t been pleased with your work how have you managed to pull out of that?

Haha. You have to paint your way through it and it’s really horrible! So when things are wrong, you have to keep working, and I hate saying that because I’m against that 95% work and 5% inspiration or whatever it is! I’m against that.

So, do you think there is a lot of inherent talent... genetically?

I don’t know about that! *chuckles*

If you could be represented by a major gallery which one would it be and why?

The Marlborough, in Mayfair; it’s where anybody who is anybody who has shown, like Bacon and Auerbach. It’s a lovely space and they have great wine!

How important do you think it is to have good wine at a private view?

Hahaha, I think that’s the most important thing, haha, bad wine and bad art are not okay. The worse the art the better the wine is normally.

What do you hope to achieve over the next ten years?

I hope to have a major solo show. That’s it! 

Clive will be exhibiting his painting, "Cathedral" at The Londoner's Compass this October at the Strand Gallery.