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Napp, David
Born 1964
Selected Work :
The Cypress Tree
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Trained: Canterbury Collge of Art 1981-1985.

Lecturer: Canterbury College of Art 1988-1991.

Awards: Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation 1986 and 1990.

John Robertson (Bourne Gallery) on David Napp's 10th Anniversary Show.

...well, I won’t go on with the waffle that usually flows from my lips at that point. More often than not it will depend more on how many glasses of wine I’ve had, rather than how deeply I feel about the point.

Of course, it is certainly flattering to see yourself “immortalised” on canvas, especially when the result is so much kinder than the photographs taken at the same time as the sitting - which I often demand be destroyed! How David manages to produce anything remotely beautiful from a dumpy girl in a dress certainly proves that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Sitting for a painting also involves a lot of pleasurable day trips to scenic landscapes, enjoying picnics or having lunch in quaint Provencal restaurants. It all sounds idyllic but there is always a price to pay. I can now tell within a millisecond of adopting a pose whether the event will be endurable, mildly uncomfortable, moderately painful, excessively distressing or overwhelmingly excruciating. Negative points include pins and needles, cramps, sweat running into your eyes, insect bites and boredom. If the pose is relatively comfortable, then you can drift off into a dream world of your own, but more often than not your thoughts run along the lines of:

“I can’t bear this for much longer; I wonder if he’s finished my leg; if I could just wiggle the toes, I hope he won’t notice…”

Moreover, living in such close proximity and being involved in a lot of his work mean exposure to David’s acute grumpiness, plus other insights into his personality. He is the stereotypical scatty, forgetful artist and it has become part of my job description to find lost glasses, wallets, keys, pastel boxes, catalogues, etc. plus remind him of appointments, deadlines and people’s names (and woe betide me if I happen to have forgotten them myself). It’s a full-time job.

David is a panoply of nerves and energy, always stressing and worrying about every little thing; it is exhausting just to watch him. He often has several things on the go at the same time and scatters his photos, pastels, letters and other junk all over the house (athough he tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s the tidiest man alive – hah!). A typical day in our house is a roller coaster of emotions. Luckily for me I seem to have developed an internal barometer that senses what mood David will be in before he even knows it himself.

But I’m not trying to paint David as some volatile tyrant. Being an artist looks so easy. We all envy a lifestyle away from the monochrome monotony of the office, picking up an easel and heading off to spend fulfilling days in pastoral surroundings. I can’t emphasize enough that it isn’t like that at all! Constantly finding new subject matter is a mammoth task and involves many disappointments; the pressure to renew oneself is enormous; there is no cheque at the end of the month and small dips in the economy can be catastrophic troughs in the art world. Bankers are unsympathetic - they like to see lots of zeros after every figure and a pile of reliable wage slips. No wonder David swings from extremes of euphoria – after he’s just produced a great piece, for example – to the depths of gloom – as the dollar drops yet again, as he struggles to work in less-than-desirable conditions, when a much-hoped-for project fails… It often takes real dedication to pick yourself up and carry on producing beautiful joy-filled pieces when you feel like the world is changing for the worse, as I’m sure many of us feel when we turn on the TV and watch that depressing thing called ‘the news’.

Nonetheless, David is a great person to be around. His energy is catching and he<

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