My Design London

Liz Hoggard, Evening Standard, January 22, 2020

Cynthia Corbett is founder of the Young Masters Art Prize for emerging artists who show their own exceptional skill and integrity, while paying homage to the skill of the Old Masters.


The prize celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.


Corbett also founded The Cynthia Corbett Gallery which is exhibiting at London Art Fair, running until Sunday at the Business Design Centre, Upper Street, N1.



Where I live: Wimbledon

My home is in Wimbledon in a former Victorian convent surrounded by a communal garden.


When we heard the Catholic convent was being converted into apartments, we bought off-plan.


We were fortunate to buy when it was still being developed so we could make sure original fireplaces, tiles and architectural detailing were restored.


Wimbledon is amazingly well connected with a Tube, train and tram service — you’re in Waterloo in 17 minutes.


But it also has a village feel, with lovely one-off shops, a theatre, open-air markets including an amazing monthly French market, and traditional British pubs like the Hand in Hand and Crooked Billet.


My decor: lots of colour 

Our living space, on the ground and first floors, has large, interconnected rooms with lots of windows and amazing light. I’m not minimal and I believe in colour.

We visited Monet’s house at Giverny and I fell in love with his yellow kitchen.

I brought back a Limoges cup and saucer and I thought, I’m going to make my dining room that colour.


I found the exact Dulux shade and painted cupboards and chairs yellow, too.

I was studying colour theory and I liked the idea that the heart of the house would have a strong sense of wellbeing and positivity.


A cabinet displays my Clarice Cliff Bizarre ware tea set with its original ceramic tray, bought at auction at Christie’s in the late Eighties, and pieces by Susie Cooper.


We also have pieces of Royal Worcester inherited from my husband Harry’s mother and a rare collection of Swansea china dated around 1812-1815. 


My artwork

My home is also my gallery so it’s filled with work by artists I represent including Deborah Azzopardi’s bold Pop Art canvases, and digital prints by Lluís Barba, a finalist for the 2009 Young Masters Art Prize, who inserts modern celebrities into well-recognised Old Master scenes.


I collect ceramics so you’ll find Jo Taylor’s hand-built and wheel-thrown porcelain pieces, Tessa Eastman’s otherworldly Cloud Bundles, Matt Smith’s wall sconces and black Parian figures and Zemer Peled’s anemone-like porcelain sculptures.


On a table are two pieces by Lucille Lewin, founder of the Whistles fashion chain, who retrained as a sculptor at the Royal College in her late sixties.


Sue Tilley, the benefits manager painted by Lucian Freud, visited the gallery when I first set it up and it turns out that she was born here.


Best homewares: Elys of Wimbledon

There’s an amazing antiques market right by Hampton Court Tube full of magical finds — glass, porcelain, furniture.


Lots Road is great for Victorian pieces and I love the old-school department store Elys of Wimbledon, which has been around since the late 19th century.




Cultural haunt: Southside House

On the south side of Wimbledon Common is an amazing, untouched Jacobean manor house called Southside House.


It’s full of Old Masters and is a really special place. They have tours and concerts there.


Favourite galleries: Daniel Blau and Victoria Miro

Daniel Blau in Hoxton Square has a good eye for historical and political photographs and works that capture the most important political events of the 20th century.


And Victoria Miro is my heroine. I bought two Chris Ofili watercolours from her when I was studying. They accepted monthly payments for them.


Dream escape

The Wallace Collection. If I had the hours, I would go there every week and just sit by Nicolas Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time (c1634-36).


Secret green space

Just off the south side of Wimbledon Common, which has the largest area of heathland in London, is Cannizaro Park.


It was part of the Duke of Cannizaro’s estate in the 18th century.


The main house is now a hotel but a “secret” walled garden with hydrangeas and irises is open to the public.


My Giverny dining room

Inspired by a visit to Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s home and its bright yellow kitchen at Giverny in northern France, Corbett painted her Wimbledon dining room the same colour.


The room also displays her cherished collection of Clarice Cliff Bizarre ware