Peregrine Heathcote paints Ralph Lauren
By Fiona Sanderson
Artist Peregrine Heathcote is known for his exquisite paintings that recall bygone times when travelling was the pinnacle of luxury. Fusing iconic pre-war design with modern conceptions of beauty, Heathcote’s work depicts the glamour and romance of the silver screen-era, set against the backdrop of international jet set culture. It’s little wonder, therefore, that Heathcote was asked to paint a series of works for Ralph Lauren, to celebrate the label’s Spring/Summer collection. The Luxury Channel duly caught up with the artist to talk fashion, films and sky-diving Sheikhs….
TELL US ABOUT THE RALPH LAUREN CAMPAIGN AND HOW THE COMMISSION STARTED?
The commission started from an e-mail enquiry via my website one rainy Saturday evening in October, from one of the creative art directors at Ralph Lauren in charge of conceptual digital design. They came across my work, loved what I did, and asked if I would be available to start working on a first collaboration the following week for a presentation. It didn’t require much time to agree to schedule a call for Monday morning, and by Monday afternoon I had signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
HOW MUCH HAVE THE STORIES IN YOUR PAINTINGS BEEN INFLUENCED BY YOUR EARLY LIFE?
I have been extremely fortunate to be inspired by a very adventurous family. My parents and I lived in Dubai during the ’70s, a time when the country started to point its compass towards a Western influence. My father organised some wonderful events for both Westerners and Arabs – including the first Sheik to skydive, acrobatic displays over the desert and the first polo matches between Western and local teams. My mother, who attended Saint Martin’s School of Art (now Central Saint Martin’s), flew over some models from the UK for a Vogue fashion shoot in the desert – much to the interest of the locals.
WHERE DOES YOUR LOVE OF VINTAGE CARS AND PLANES COME FROM?
Both my grandfathers inspire themes in my work, one of whom was a test pilot and flew for the RAF in the War piloting Wellingtons, Mosquitos, Proctors and Halifaxes. The other ran the Rolls-Royce 20-Ghost Club for many years, driving his Arthur Mulliner 20/25 hp around the world, including China, Russia, Turkey and all over Europe.
DO YOU THINK WE HAVE LOST THE ART OF GLAMOROUS TRAVEL, AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED FROM THE STORIES IN YOUR WORK?
With the scenes I create, I try and conjure a semi-solitary exclusive experience of travel and adventure. I guess nowadays that is more achieved through boutique travel experiences tailored to families and smaller groups, rather than the mass package holidays.
WHERE DO THE IDEAS FOR YOUR PAINTINGS COME FROM, AND HOW DO YOU WORK IN SUCH DETAIL?
I find travelling so inspiring and visiting new places often inspires new elements in the backgrounds of my work. A couple of years ago, I was in Marrakech working for a client and that rubbed off in some of the scenes on show in Scottsdale, Arizona a few months later.
TELL ME ABOUT THE MANY EMINENT PEOPLE YOU HAVE PAINTED?
I’ve painted some really inspiring and interesting people – Sheikhs, princes, captains of industry, visionaries, collectors and people in love. The world I portray does appeal to a certain type of timeless nostalgia and I love sharing that language and experience with an appreciative collector. I had a really amazing project for a collector who wanted an adaptation of a scene from the film Blade Runner – the 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young.
WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS?
I am happy every time a collector buys a painting. Each painting is a capsule of a moment of imagined reality, and I am proud of every sale. My work in the Ralph Lauren campaign, my artwork as the front-piece for the Battersea Power Station re-development and some of my larger scale paintings appearing in the press.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS REGARDING OUR CURRENT SITUATION?
I think it’s important to note that these challenging times are both a cue and a clue. A cue to change our routine for the reward of a more sustainable and wholesome life – being nicer to our neighbours, travelling less and living within a more local neighbourhood. A clue from nature to re-adjust our habits, and a heads-up to change our behaviour. It takes about 21 days to develop a habit. We can emerge from this stronger, and with more consideration for our vulnerability to Mother Nature. We can learn, adjust, take note and change our habits for the improvement of our families, our children, our homes – and our planet. Listen to the birds sing, or your neighbours laugh. Enjoy the scenery. Smile. Be considerate. Appreciate the little things in life – there are so many rewards.
FINALLY, THE ONE QUESTION WE ASK EVERYONE! WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST LUXURY?
If you’re in New York between the 3rd – 19th July, pop in and see Peregrine Heathcote’s latest paintings just off 5th Avenue at Bonner David Galleries, 22 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028 (about 100m from The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Drawn from luxury lifestyle, fashion and iconic places, the narrative and the formal language of the scenes are inseparably linked to classic cinema and to old-style advertising. Heathcote’s paintings suggest a sense of escapism, as they lead us to another dimension of timeless glamour and luxury. Although this dimension is very dreamy, it is made vivid and real by the extreme accuracy of the details of each figurative element: clothing, accessories, means of transport and even the landscapes.
For more information about Peregrine Heathcote’s work, go to www.peregrineheathcote.com.