The First Word On Kitty O’Grady

French architect Kitty O’Grady worked in Paris at The Atelier Jean Nouvel after graduating from The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. She returned home to the South of France, where she now lives in Montelimar with her husband and two young sons, working for the architectural firm Atelier 3a….

Kitty O'Grady

My favourite space in my house has to be the ‘‘studio’’ in our family home in Alba, where I grew up. This is the room in which my grandmother originally spent many hours painting in the light from a very large window. At one stage it became my bedroom, before becoming a kitchen and it has now been turned into a library that houses piles of books gathered over the years. For being so versatile, I love the term ‘‘studio’’ as a definition of a space that has no specific function, yet can be very self-contained.

The most inspirational person in my life is my grandmother, Patricia Sanderson, whom I particularly admire and respect for having been entirely dedicated to her art and never defeated by anything life threw at her. As a child during the London Blitz, she would religiously attend art classes, often running for shelter on her way to school. This shows just how determined she already was, and after the war, she went to the Royal College of Art before turning down a place at the Villa Medici. Instead, she decided to rally the French avant-garde in Paris – where she spent some time training at the legendary Atelier 17, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Miro, Calder and Viera da Silva. I owe my love of France to her, as it is thanks to her settling down in the south of France that I am naturally rooted to this beautiful country.

Patricia Sanderson Self Portrait

The most unforgettable place I’ve visited is – as strange as it may seem – the exact replica of the Grotte Chauvet, a 40 thousand year old painted cave for which our practice (Atelier 3a) recently completed a museum. For the purposes of conservation, the original is strictly closed to the public, but I hold on to the hope that I will one day enter it and admire its incredible paintings.

The last thing I added to my wardrobe is also the best gift I’ve received recently. It is a cashmere blazer, given to me by an old friend, who is also an artist. She was always particularly attentive to her style and has worn Channel No.5 perfume for as long as I can remember her. This rich scent now proudly fills my stairway with many evocative moments.

Chanel No 5

The last song I listened to is Je T’aime Moi Non Plus – probably the most romantic song ever – which was written in one night by Serge Gainsbourg in the heat of an intense love affair between him and Brigitte Bardot. It says everything and yet nothing, a sort of condensed description of love.

The website I most often browse is www.theworldweekly.com, the best online paper for getting an all-round view of world news. It cleverly brings together and selects headlines from some of the best international newspapers by translating and illustrating content into a more comprehensive format. It’s the best way to catch up on important matters.

One of the objects I would never part with is a large table that I designed and had made for the house. It is made out of an old bowling lane and is so heavy that it will just have to stay with us!

An indulgence I would never give up by far is chocolate, which has been keeping me going and fuelling hours of batteries over the years.

Wine

The things you will always find in my fridge are a bottle of chilled Ardèche Chardonnay, matured cheese, olives and all the little extras that help us improvise a party when friends are around.

If I could get away for the day it would have to be to Venice, where I went for the Art Biennale. Venice has many hidden treasures, and with such inspiring events as the Art and Architecture biennales, it just feels like this floating city is in constant movement and never fixed.

First published in Malta by Lily Aguis, in First Magazine.