Our Friend David Austen: Oliver Spencer interview

As the Nakeds exhibition draws to a close this weekend we reminisce about our AW14 lookbook shoot at the Drawing Room London with co-curator and friend of the brand David Austen.

David works in a variety of media, most lately film. For many years he has been primarily known as a painter. The various aspects of Austen’s output can seem many-authored, so distinct are they in character and form. What unifies his work is a poetic approach, a disquieting emotional charge and a touch attuned to the unique material properties of whichever medium he uses.

David has exhibited widely including solo shows at Camden Arts Centre, London; Inverleith House, Edinburgh; Modern Art, Oxford; and MK Gallery, Milton Keynes.

The artists work is in many important collections in the UK, Europe and the USA including Tate Britain.

We caught up with David and asked him a few questions regarding, life, style and Art.

Is there a particular Art movement that was very significant to you?

Not so much movements as individual artists such as Joseph Beuys, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, photographers like Robert Frank, the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, Oceanic sculpture. I am a great reader of classic crime novelists like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard. They have had a profound influence on my text works.

Tell us your favourite City?

I think we all have a love hate relationship with London. I am a city dweller; the countryside makes me uneasy. I like Paris because the Metro smells like Sugar Puffs, Liverpool because it’s a port with pubs, Tangier because its all hidden, New York for its brown buildings and cold blue sky, Glasgow for its great architecture and esprit de corps, and Lisbon for its faded grandeur, trams, seafood and being next to the beach.

What is London’s Best Kept Secret?

It’s not so much a secret any more but for years I have visited the Cocteau mural in the church of Notre Dame de France, off Leicester Square. He painted it in 1959 in the rebuilt church. Its been recently restored which has knocked a bit of its charm but a visit is accompanied by the snores of the sleeping migrant workers taken advantage of the pews between shifts.

Who are your style heroes?

The hoodlums in Brassai photographs.

What is your favourite go-to item in your wardrobe?

I have a nice corduroy Oliver Spencer jacket I bought a few years back but I feel it needs a 70’s Alfa Romeo sports car to go with it. I’m pretty frugal, I wear an old trench wristwatch from the First World War, polka dot scarf and my battered monkey boots pretty much does it.

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