Each week in 'Pixelated Stories', we highlight an established or emerging artist, who is garnering attention for their work.
This week we caught up with Brightonian Madeleine De Angelis, the artist behind the very popular ‘Love Letter to Sussex’ exhibition, to find out more about her inspiration behind the paintings, what luxury means to her, her favourite Brighton haunts and much much more!
Pixel Gallery – Hello Madeleine, always a pleasure to catch up with a fellow Brightonian.
You have had an interesting and successful creative career, culminating in your decision to follow your heart as a full-time artist. Please tell us a little about yourself and your life journey to date.
Madeleine De Angelis - My journey to becoming an artist started with me working as a designer in the fashion industry for many years, eventually becoming Head of a design studio in London for the entrepreneur Touker Suleyman of Dragons’ Den fame.
I learnt a great deal working with Touker and we sold hundreds of thousands of garments to the high street inspired by working on catwalk trends, prints, colours up to a year in advance whilst remaining reactive to emerging concepts.
It was extremely pressurised yet exciting to see my designs being worn and featured in magazines. I then set up my business as a freelance textile designer which proved to be an excellent opportunity to have insight to another area within the business.
Pixel Gallery – Do you remember the first time you painted? And what was the painting off?
Madeleine De Angelis - The first time I recall painting was in secondary school and was based on bath taps for some reason.
I remember my art tutor hiding away in his office painting and listening to opera very loudly oblivious to us students! I thought he was a wonderful character, inspiring and completely eccentric.
Pixel Gallery – Your paintings, including your ‘Love Letter to Sussex’ exhibition is inspired by nature and particularly the Sussex countryside. What it is about nature that inspires you so much?
Madeleine De Angelis - Living in Brighton by the coast and close to the Sussex Downs has been a massive influence on my work. You cannot fail to notice the changing seasons, colours and surroundings when you walk everywhere. I carry a sketchbook to capture the essence of the moment and use my phone to take hundreds of photos which I often use as a starting point for many of my works.
Pixel Gallery – That’s so true about Brighton’s influence on artists, I remember seeing an exhibition of paintings on Brighton by John Constable when I was 18-years old and Brighton is still an inspiring place for artists today. Speaking of 18-year-olds, what advice would you give to the 18-year-old Maddy?
Madeleine De Angelis - Ha, if only I could ! Stop worrying unnecessarily about everything which I still battle with today.
Pixel Gallery – Yes, I think that’s a battle many of us share. Reminds me of the quote by Mark Twain “I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened”. When you win that battle please share how you did it with us!
Pixel Gallery – Do you have a favourite artist and what do you like about their work?
Madeleine De Angelis - Rothko, because of his radiant yet contrasting colours, which seem to have a luminosity and vibrance that almost vibrate from the canvas. Schiele ,due to the rawness and intensity of his works. Brutally honest, contorted bodies that express huge emotion.
(ROYAL RED AND BLUE by MARK ROTHKO)
Pixel Gallery – Two great choices. And there is something quite poignant that Schiele passed away at on 28 years old from the Spanish flu pandemic bearing the mind the Covid pandemic.
Pixel Gallery – The Covid pandemic and lockdown has be very tough for everyone and many creatives in particular have found the past year very challenging workwise, what advice would you give to a young person thinking of pursuing a career in the creative field but hesitant because of recent events?
Madeleine De Angelis - The covid lockdown, it has had a huge detrimental impact on so many however if a young person wants to enter the creative field. I would encourage them to pursue it relentlessly. It takes huge effort and determination but it is achievable.
Pixel Gallery – How do you incorporate sustainability into your artwork?
Madeleine De Angelis - I hope by producing artworks inspired by nature it brings awareness to the environment, even when I work on very abstract pieces. I hope to create a question looking beyond the obvious and drawing out the innate connection we all have with the natural environment.
(Houghton - Fern tendrils amongst the trees reaching towards the light.)
Pixel Gallery – How has your art evolved over the years?
Madeleine De Angelis - My artwork has evolved through continued experimentation. I feel that you need time to explore and play with different techniques and only through that process can you move forward.
Pixel Gallery – What brings you the most joy about your art?
Madeleine De Angelis - Colour is the biggest joy to me, mixing new shades and working with differing combinations.
I often write down the colours I’ve mixed or it can be impossible to recreate them!
Pixel Gallery – What is one thing people are always surprised to find out about you?
Madeleine De Angelis – That I suffer from Misophonia, honestly it is now a recognised condition.
Pixel Gallery – Thank you for sharing this and I guess it helps to explain why being in nature is so special for you.
Pixel Gallery – Is there one book you would recommend everyone reads?
Madeleine De Angelis – L’assommoir by Emile Zola, very relevant today even though it was written in 1872.
It hails as a classical tragedy depicting life for the working classes in Paris. Unfortunately many comparisons can be recognised nearly 150 years later with poverty, homelessness and alcoholism
Pixel Gallery – What do you most look forward to when returning to Brighton from a holiday?
Madeleine De Angelis – Clean salty air.
Pixel Gallery – What are your favourite Brighton shops?
Madeleine De Angelis – I love wandering around the Brighton North Lanes (Laines) especially Snoopers Paradise and Beyond Retro to feed my vintage obsession! I prefer clothing which is unique and vintage is environmentally friendly.
Pixel Gallery – Do you have a favourite coffee shop in Brighton?
Madeleine De Angelis – Coffee definitely at Pelicano Sydney St or Found Café at Fiveways for great veggie/vegan options.
Pixel Gallery – If you could live in any National Trust house in Sussex which one would you choose and why?
Madeleine De Angelis – If I could chose anywhere to live in Sussex it would be Charleston Farmhouse home of the Bloomsbury Group in Firle.
The interiors are covered with artworks on every imaginable surface and the gardens echo this with extraordinary combinations of both vegetables and flowers planted to work symbiotically.
The intense quietness and views of the Downs are really spectacular and a constant source of inspiration and make for great walks.
Pixel Gallery – What is your biggest extravagance?
Madeleine De Angelis – Definitely paint.
Pixel Gallery – What does ‘Luxury’ mean to you?
Madeleine De Angelis – Probably spending uninterrupted time in the garden wielding my secateurs!
Pixel Gallery – All the time in the world doing what you enjoy, I can’t think of anything more luxurious than this! Thank you so much for your time today, it's been a pleasure catching up with you as always and have a lovely day!
Madeleine's 'Love Letter to Sussex' exhibition is available to view here