Hi, I’m Naomi and I came to Cambridge nearly 30 years ago, and, apart from a few years in Milan, haven’t wanted to live anywhere else. I trained and work as a historian, and I think I bring this to my paintings – I have a need to record things as I see them – I don’t edit out things like wheelie bins and ugly plug sockets. I draw what I see, but I like to think I find beauty in the everyday. I like to draw directly in pen, and then add colour with watercolours.
It’s not so much that I love art as that I love drawing. Drawing has been a constant companion for me throughout my life. I do enjoy looking at art, but I’m generally not a fan of abstract or imagined stuff. I like the here and now. My latest exhibition at Hot Numbers is called ‘Everyday Cambridge‘ – all places, people and scenes I love in this city.
I find it hard to evaluate my own work. Sometimes, if I go to the loo in the night, I might pop into my study on the way back just to have another look at something I’ve painted that day to see what I think of it. Looking at it cold like that helps me spot if the painting is working or not. But I often find my views on which are my best pieces don’t match what other people think. I also find maintaining my website hard, but I am working on it!
Selling my first painting was such a buzz. I still find it so flattering that people spend their hard-earned money to buy something that I have created. It’s such a compliment.
As an artist living in Cambridge makes me happy. I’ve lived all over the world, so I know a good spot when I find it. I’ve experienced the city from both the town and gown sides, and I love it more each day. I am lucky enough to live close to Mill Road – one of the best streets in the country.
There are so many great art venues in Cambridge however, Kettle’s Yard house will always be my number one. It’s an exquisite place. But for me, the reasonably recent trend of places having coffee and gallery space is an absolute win win. What’s not to like? I’ve been lucky enough to have exhibitions arranged at Tradizioni, Hot Numbers, and Balzano’s, and I hope to have many more to come. They are a natural fit for my work, as I am often drawing during my coffee break.
The support from friends and family has been fantastic. Only a few years ago, I hadn’t really shown anyone a finished piece. Everyone knew I drew a lot, but it was always for my own pleasure. Having the confidence to show my first pieces was a big step, and the beginning of an amazing time. I have had such wonderful feedback from so many people. I love meeting other artists. I’ve joined quite a few local groups such as Urban Sketchers and Cambridge Open Studios.
My advice to someone starting sketching and taking up art would be lose the pencil, and stop worrying about the outcome. Enjoy the process. But it took me 40 years to realise that myself.
As for the future – so many exciting events to come; I have two upcoming exhibitions this spring, plus in July I am opening up my house for Open Studios for the first time. I am also hoping to take part in the Creative Reactions strand of the Pint of Science festival. And I have about 5 commissions that are long overdue. That’ll do me.
If I were to encapsulate why I love living in Cambridge so much it would be that it is like a bonsai version of a huge metropolis. All the benefits of being multicultural and vibrant, yet you can be in the countryside in 5 minutes.
People watching is a fantastic free thing to do in Cambridge. With paper and drawing pen. And if there’s a GOOD cappuccino by my side, all the better.
When I am not doing my art my real job is being a detective, of sorts! I set up Helpful Genealogy around a decade ago, offering practical help with family history. I work from home, spending hours and hours solving tricky family history mysteries, and researching complex family trees. It’s like doing a never-ending crossword puzzle. I enjoy it so much as it is always a challenge, but the feedback from happy customers is so satisfying. Sometimes I know that I really help people get closure and move on with their lives. It’s a very special feeling.
My main personal ambition is to successfully juggle my two passions of drawing and genealogy. It’s been tough, but so far, very worth it.