Artist Celia Paul explores the beauty of melancholy. By Jackie Wullschlager
The British painter talks about women in art and the ‘sadness in my self’.
In the doorway of Celia Paul’s mansion block, loud Bloomsbury crowds jostle for shelter from a summer shower. Within, at the top of a winding stone stairway, an Edwardian-looking figure with long face, pointed features, acute eyes and loose brown hair greets me warmly.
“It’s been leaking in rain,” apologises Paul, who speaks softly and moves with a gliding grace. She offers a smashed-up chaise longue and installs herself in a paint-encrusted chair; the only other furniture is a single iron bedstead. Peeling walls are empty save a charcoal portrait of Paul by her son Frank, covered in plastic. Paul offers tea, made from a kettle in the corner on bare floorboards...