The artist, whose work typically depicts interiors, sketches out her life online.

There are some artists whose work is so immediately transporting that to look upon it feels akin to being whisked happily away from your own life. Lottie Cole is one such. A painter with a self-evident interest in art and architectural history, her work typically depicts interiors – from the private to the public, notably at Charleston Farmhouse, a place that has informed much of her work. Through her beautiful brushstrokes, she invites us into the well-used rooms in which lives are lived, the absence of the human form doing nothing to diminish the personalities evoked through their houses.

Having trained at Wimbledon Art School, Lottie later studied Art History at St Andrews, a pursuit that fed into her abiding interest in reading paintings. As such, her own works consciously contain allusions and references to be decoded. We could gaze at them all day.



In 2019, Lottie set up Minerva Workshops, a central hub for organising artists’ masterclasses up and down the country. She is represented by Cricket Fine Art, whose curator, David Fraser Jenkins, says of her work, ‘Cole’s paintings are devoted to a remarkable presence of absence. The London streets she has painted, the rooms at Charleston, the Marylebone shops, the imaginary interiors of the collectors of real paintings and sculpture – with their massively empty chairs – all shout out with a human presence that is not there. Even her rooftops show empty ladders, as if they were an obstacle course for acrobats. These interiors are well-used, reeking of a lifetime of touching and placing, of someone looking fondly at the paintings-within-a-painting. But everyone has now left, and they are anyway a bit old-fashioned in design, as if in looking at her rooms we were returning to a house some time after its owners had moved on.’

Here she shares which Instagrammer she regards as a Pepys for the modern age; the joys of the mute button on social media; and why not keeping up with technology can be very ageing.

My favourite website...


I can’t resist a flea market, bric-a-brac stall or any kind of antique shop. Auctions send my heart racing and on many occasions my hand has gone up a lot longer than it should. So eBay is a fabulous armchair alternative. Occasionally I’ve bought some duds, but more often than not you find something absolutely brilliant that thankfully somebody else no longer wants.



My favourite app...


BBC Sounds and Audible. On the first lockdown I listened to GF Newman’s The Corrupted. I’m an avid user of BBC Sounds and I had had this series suggested so many times, but I didn’t know why I’d not listened to it. It’s five series, ten episodes per series, and each one covers a decade. It’s the most brilliant saga about an East End family who are involved in the crime scene – but there are real people woven throughout the story. I was bereft when I finished it. But am thinking I’ll listen to it all over again quite soon. And fingers crossed for future series. If there’s a petition out there, I’ll sign it.

My Internet hero...


People came up with some great ideas of how to help over the last year, even if what they had to offer didn’t instantly seem at all useful in a pandemic. Lucy Kent set up the @artforcharitycollective. It runs regular auctions to raise money for charity and it’s a great way of feeling that you can contribute when perhaps pure financial help isn’t such an easy option.

My favourite podcast...


I really love commentary more than the topic itself. If Match of the Day was only the post-game analysis, I think I’d watch it. I really enjoy Americast, the podcast with Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel. They made the byzantine process of the American elections a little clearer whilst also being very funny. I also love Newscast which I think used to be Brexitcast…. there is a theme!



My favourite YouTuber...


I’m not really a YouTube aficionado. I use it to find how-to videos sometimes and most recently spent an hour down a rabbit hole of Dave Spikey clips, which made me laugh a lot. But when YouTubers come on to Strictly or something like that, I always need an intro from my daughter. Someone I know told me that not keeping across tech was very ageing, so I feel I should and could do better.

My most recent buy online...


I do Reformer Pilates at a wonderful place called Pilates Tree. They have lots of free routines, which have been great during lockdown. But also the owner Monica can never resist buying new gadgets for us all to use. She recently recommended something called ‘posture key’ from @gravitylife_ and said it was incredible. So, on that basis, I’ve ordered one. I’m hoping it’s going to drop on the doormat next week.

Last book you downloaded or read...


I downloaded Orlando by Virginia Woolf to listen to while painting. Her take on gender feels so relevant and it’s actually far funnier than I remembered. I feel like it crept into my work, so I’ve entitled the painting Orlando too.

Favourite tweeter...


I do have a Twitter account but I confess that I don’t regularly check in. I find that Instagram is a sweet spot for info and ideas combined with pictures. And it’s less argumentative.



Favourite Instagrammer...


Peter Parker. He’s a biographer, writer on plants, buildings, landscape, books, old photos, films, paintings and so much more. We used to work together in a past life and his take downs and commentary were hilarious. I love how he always records the date, time and location of where he is when he posts. A Pepys for our time!

Favourite tech gadget...


Is a Magimix a tech gadget? Just before the last lockdown, I bought a second-hand one which involved a handover in the car park at Woodside Park Tube Station. Maybe it’s old age but grating and slicing has never been so exciting, it feels like a new culinary dawn. And certainly my family appreciated the variety I achieved with a carrot in this last lockdown. Simple pleasures.

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...


My phone charger and my box of watercolours. My oxygen for life on both counts.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...


I really like Up With The Lark, which is the website of Calandre Orton, a business coach working with people in art and the creative industries. I don’t know her personally, but she had a series on Insta called Ponderings & Porridge. Every morning she’d share her thoughts. They were just perfectly judged for helping people feel their way through the last year. She also has longer interviews with interesting creatives on her podcast.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...


Instagram.



Last thing you binge-watched...


Call My Agent. I’m still in mourning for it being over. I got up at 6am every day so could watch it in peace. One lasting effect though is I now wake my daughter up with a French accent. She prefers this to the Russian one I used to use!

Favourite brands have you discovered online...


It’s amazing when you find something that perfectly helps you out. Keeping children warm and dry when outside is the speciality of Polarn O.Pyret and I found it more than doubles their fresh air intake. And if you do a bit of gardening, you probably already know Niwaki - the Hori Hori trowel is like a weed laser!

Social media allowed me to meet...


So many people virtually – both other artists and people who want to buy my work.

The best digital advice I've been given...


That it’s possible to mute someone, rather than unfollow. Really helpful for silencing annoying feeds, close to home, without causing offence! Part of the revised suite of etiquette required for 21st-century life.

My screensaver is...


A picture of my daughter and stepson. Nose-to-nose, they have almost identical profiles.

My standout online memory...


When my younger stepson logged on to my Facebook page and said something very funny as if he were me. I kept on getting messages from my friends commenting and it took me ages to work it out what was going on. Made me much more aware of the need for proper passwords!

My pet online hate is...


‘The barrage’ – when people just pile in on each other and don’t take time to reflect on an issue. I think anonymity is not a good thing. If you can publish something publicly, you yourself should be identifiable.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?


Unfortunately not. I’m pretty bad actually. I’m definitely one of those people who check their phone a thousand times a day. As I’m a bad sleeper, I listen to the radio on my phone throughout the night with occasional groans from my husband about the blue light cloud, and occasional eruptions of noise when I pull out the earphones which happens every now and then.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?


Good. My father used to constantly refer me to look things up in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Hard to conceive that accessing information was so limited. Though I do have a real fondness for the Yellow Pages.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2021

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