Jane McAdam Freud is an internationally acclaimed, multi award winning British visual artist. Born in 1958, her work includes sculpture, installation, drawing, prints and digital media. McAdam Freud studied at the Wimbledon College of Art, Central St Martins and the Royal College of Art in London. Impressively, her work started to gain recognition from the very early age of 18, after the launch of her first solo show. Following the exhibition, one of her award winning pieces was acquired by the British museum. In 1986, she went on to win the, the British Art Medal Scholarship in Rome. 
A highly accomplished artist, McAdam Freud has work in private and public collections collections including the National Gallery in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the British Museum and the Greek National Gallery among other international museums. Other awards she has won include the Italian State Mint prize in 1991 and Freedom of the City of London in 1992. Despite her many achievements, McAdam Freud remains humble and unaware of what many others would see as a very successful career to date. 
Daughter of one of the most widely known British painters in modern history- Lucian Freud, McAdam Freud kindly took time out of her busy schedule to express her thoughts on her career to date, her fathers influence, success and patriarchy in art.
Dad Head Sculpture, 2012, stoneware fired terracotta

 Adelaide Damoah (AD): I read that you first discovered your passion for art at the age of three while playing in a sand pit! Is this a real memory, which, you can actually recall, or is this something your parents told you about when you got older?

Jane McAdam Freud (JMF): It is a real memory of when I discovered my passion for the tactile, the power of the sensory and the joy of getting my hands dirty: in short my first sculptural experience. This is not something I could articulate at the time but more of a powerful sensory experience held deep within. I think it is like that with driving memories; they power one and are channelled through a resonant force within. In the case of the sandpit I avoided replicating the experience literally as I don’t want to lose the magic and power of the memory.
AD: I get the sense that you have a real passion for what you do and that the desire to do it is intense and real. When do you first recall having the desire to become an artist?
JMF: As far back as I can remember, with a complete overriding passion. I have always thought that it was the only thing to do and the thought inhabited every fibre of my being. My mother did painting and then fashion at St. Martins. Both parents being artists I thought that this was what everyone did so it was something concrete and possible in that regard. Many of my parents family friends were artists too, so I understood early that you had to strive for the best, work hard and seriously or else! I picked up on the fact that there was a difference between taking your art seriously, valuing, documenting and archiving it as opposed to just doing it.
AD: Is it possible to distinguish whether or not that desire had something to do with your father?
JMF : The intensity of the feeling may have had something to do with my father as his intensity in general and especially for his work was something I experienced form so young, from birth: he was there at my birth. This level of intensity for life, for what one does is something I have always felt.
AD: Can you pin point how and why he influenced you to pursue an artistic career?
JMF: Not sure about pinpointing but when you live with such intensity and passion as part of your identity, whether it be from an external parent or an internal source, the two get mixed up, or put another way it becomes internalised, an influence in that way, an instruction somehow. I can remember wanting success as an artist with a passion from so very young. It was my secret wish with every pull of the wishbone. I wished for it so badly believing the harder I wished and worked, or put another way -dreamed and drew, the more likely it would come true. I thought then that success meant having work acquired for a public collection – or having work on show in a public gallery.
I looked at the catalogues my father left lying around our house all the time and became entranced with the figures, their haunting eyes and how they filled the picture plane. How the figures were composed rather than the paintings being compositions. I was then very shy, my mother, a loner herself was quiet, and my father didn’t speak much so it was through images that I formed my views and from which I took my impressions.
Dad drawing, 2012, pencil on paper
AD: You went to the Wimbledon College of Art, Central St Martins and the Royal College of Art. What courses did you study at those three colleges?
JMF: I did a Foundation Course at Wimbledon College of Art, where I studied a bit of everything.
At Central St. Martins I studied the same course in the same rooms as my father. Strangely it was a course I felt driven to do without reason, although I consider it to have been the best initial training I could have wished for. The course was called 3D design / Jewellery and it was that I learnt all the sorts of skills that I needed to make things, albeit on a small scale. It was designing for objects on the body; the way we designed ,they bore little resemblance to what is conventionally viewed as jewellery in a commercial sense.
I was intrigued to learn that the Northern European Court painters like Hans Holbein the Younger and Quentin Metsys founder of the Antwerp School initially studied metalwork and jewellery design. Interestingly they were also both the sons of painters themselves. Perhaps there was some sort of unconscious instruction going on there. When I applied to the Central I had no idea at that time that my father had also enrolled on the same course when he was seventeen. It was my paternal grandmother who first enlightened me. I was surprised as I thought my father had wanted to be a painter from the outset but in fact he was also initially drawn to the 3D course at the Central but never finished the course. When I asked him about it he told me that sculpture was actually his first love and he tried different things before he came to painting. Anyway I love these sorts of what I call trans- generational links. Sometimes I play with the idea that I finished the course on my father’s behalf on some sort of unconscious level.
While I was at the Central I learnt that my prowess was with carving and modelling. The highlight was designing and making a medal to commemorate the Centenary of Picasso’s birth in 1881, which the British Museum immediately acquired for their permanent collection. What I loved about Picasso was that he traversed so many media, from painting to pottery and sculpture.
I love having a multi-disciplinary approach as this approach simulates life and ideas. Ideas come in many forms and the freer you are to respond the closer you are to finding an expression for the idea. At the Royal College of Art I took a Masters Degree by Project, where I wrote my own project and nominated the departments I required to access. I called my project: Forms of Relief – the Post Modern Medal. My supervisors were John Stezeker – Fine Art Department and Edwardo Paolozzi from Sculpture and Ceramics. I think it was the first multi disciplinary degree they had there. It does not suit me to be pigeon holed and I think cross-overs by default create originality. I was also doing some teaching at the RCA during that period, so I was crossing over from being a student to being a tutor.
AD: You won the British Art Medal Scholarship in Rome in 1986 and went on to study sculpture. Was it a conscious decision to study something other than painting- different from your father?
JMF: When I was on Foundation at Wimbledon, I realised it would be ridiculous for me to study painting and try for an unachievable goal i.e. to make a mark in the field where I would have barely a chance of equalling my father. I wanted to do something for me, about how I experienced the world that rang true to me. Sculpture, informed by that first sandpit experience seemed to be where I should be heading and that is where things led.
Earthstone Tryptich, 2012, stoneware fired terracotta
AD: Your most recent exhibitions, Family Matter, Flesh and Stone and Three Generations all seem to relate somehow to your family. I am especially interested in the way you contextualise the use of the word matter in the title of the show Family Matter. Could you give me a bit of background on each show? Could you also expand on the meaning of your title for “Family Matter”?
JMF: Family Matters was the exact title but yes it referenced ‘matter’. The exhibition was at Gazelli Art House gallery in Mayfair. This is the gallery that represents me in London. As I had been working with my father’s image making sketches, photo collages, and sculptures during that year, this is what I wanted to show. Death of a parent is a highly personal experience and in that way the title applies, i.e. It is a family matter. However, also the effect that a parent’s death, however estranged, has on you- does matter. I work mainly with process and materials so ‘matter’ the stuff from which I work and the stuff from which we are made together created a pairing that captured my imagination and helped me get through the mourning.
Flesh and Stone was the title of my show in York at the New School House Gallery. They selected some of the works from the Mayfair show along with a newer series of works called Animen and Huminals. My output for this show again referenced in part my father’s image and in a post life way it was also meant as commemorative and so I wanted to it to recall that he was interested in depicting flesh. As many of my portraits of him were made in terracotta clay and were stoneware fired it evoked images of turning flesh to stone, making it live on, so Flesh and Stone with its biblical connotations I thought was an apt title.
Three Generations was the title that the curator of Whitelabs Gallery wanted. Whitelabs is the gallery that represents me in Milan. We decided to show the drawings I had made at the Freud Museum alongside some of my sculptures from the series called “After Bacon.” Three Generations references Sigmund through the drawings I made of Sigmund Freud’s collection of antiquities. It references Lucian – through Bacons influence on him as I see it through these sculptures and also through some photo collage images I made combining my face with my father’s face.
I am looking forward to showing my new works, which come from a different place. As they are in progress I don’t like to talk about them as it takes some of the driving power away from the process.
AD: I read that you centre much of your work around psychoanalysis, which is especially interesting because of your great grandfather Sigmund. Could you explain a little about how you do this and why please?
JMF: I am interested in the driving forces beneath the radar rather than the rationalised. My work comes out of and is informed by the unconscious forces in myself and the resonant collective unconscious forces that edge their way into the works, in the way the conduit mechanism works for many artists. I am informed by my use of materials in the same way.
It is the way I see the world, through a psychoanalytic lens. I am pretty analytical. I don’t like to judge or come down on either side but rather to analyse ‘why’ things might be (in context with other considerations and time, place etc) –to illuminate to throw another light on something seemingly fixed (which nothing is). This may be an inherited or conditioned approach? I do this instinctively and it creates the imagery to express how I feel about the world and life. Not sure how clear this is but this driven approach is difficult to capture in words.
On completion of a work I tend to interrogate the ideas and contexts with a psychological slant examining these aspects as though the work itself were up for analysis! When a work is finished I live with it for a while and see what it suggests in terms of further associations, which may have gone unseen, or unknown while the piece was conceived.
Sometimes a work may come out of asking a question of a material or process and looking deeply at that question and its ironies and associated questions.
AD: Have you studied psychoanalysis at all?
JMF: I studied psychology as part of my first degree – as an option in the compulsory ‘liberal studies’ part of my course. I have read a lot of psychology though as part of my research for my work and as a personal interest.
AD: I understand that until you were in your thirties, you were known as Jane McAdam. The art world was not aware that you were the daughter of Lucian Freud and you had achieved a significant amount before the news got out. How long did it take after finishing your studies for you to become established as a full time artist?
JMF: When I was still a first degree art student at the Central the British Museum bought a piece of my work so this was a leap forward as it were into the Museum world. When I finished at the Central, the British Museum commissioned an edition of my Picasso Medal for a collecting society they initiated called The British Art Medal Society. This led to commissions and it all sort of took off, with one thing leading to another. As my studios got larger and the works got more ambitious the pace hotted up and in the last 5 years it has spiralled.
 Picasso Medal. 1979. Bronze. 100mm approx
AD: What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?
JMF: I was patient and worked all the time. If I had challenges along the way I can’t easily remember the detail of what they were. Being a positive person I have probably successfully blocked them out.
What I do know is that the challenges were in the region of ‘letting myself’ do this or that. Not editing out the guts and not censoring myself in the way I tended to in the first half of my life. Life starts at 50 in this regard. When I was 50 I decided my life had begun – (50 being half of 100 and I often say, part jokingly that I will be very angry if I don’t live to 100). This decision corresponds with my predilection for pairing, which has been in my work in one way or another from the beginning. I thought the pairing of the first half and the second half of my life was a symbol of a work. Life is a work. The first 50 years I hadn’t claimed it I feel and now I try to. It is always easier to defer to the other; a part of empathy I suppose but it isn’t helpful to the self or the art.
AD: The art establishment in this country is known to be particularly patriarchal. As an accomplished female artist, have you encountered any resistance to your progression as an artist because of the fact that you are female? If so, what specifically and how did you over come it?
JMF: I left all those male dominated societies (won’t mention any here through fear of a patriarchal punch on the nose). Men in art are generally fine but it is the one or two territorial types who can be really indignant that women are on what they claim as their patch (particularly in sculpture) and can make life difficult. What I have found is that it is best to move out of the way and towards more of who you are and what is uniquely yours. I like Theodore Zeldon’s approach, which is that the ‘brave run away.’ Perhaps that’s why I veered more towards ‘family matters’. Perhaps it was a sort of retreat back into the bosom as it were or perhaps a move towards who I am – what makes my work more me and therefore uniquely mine.
Down to Earth Installation 1, Boundaries exhibition, Paddington Studio, 2011, salt and grit
AD: You have achieved significant accolades in your career to date and clearly been “validated,” so to speak by the art establishment. What in your opinion does it take for a female artist to be validated by the art establishment?
JMF: I think it is a man’s world (unfortunately for us) but if you are doing something all your own and men are not interested in being on that territory then they leave you alone. It is pertinent to your question that I do speak increasingly about this divide through my current works.
AD: With all of the shows and other achievements under your belt, what is your personal definition of success in art?
JMF: Oh dear, not sure if one ever feels successful. My goal posts move at each achievement. If I did feel that I had arrived at success my work might ‘go off’ as it were. You need to be willing yourself to do your very best at each turn.
Down to Earth Installation 2, Boundaries exhibition, Paddington Studio, 2011, stoneware
AD: What has been the biggest set back in your career to date?
JMF: I try not to see things as setbacks but just opportunities to do things differently. I love the example Edison used when asked how he felt about failing to make a light bulb 10,000 times. “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
AD: What has been your biggest achievement to date and what steps or process did you go through to achieve that?
JMF: My solo show at the great Gazelli Art House gallery in Mayfair, next door to the arts club. The strange thing is I didn’t do anything to achieve this as the director found my work online and asked to come to my studio. Strange really as I sometimes work so hard to achieve far less and it doesn’t seem to happen.
Down to Earth Installation 2, Boundaries exhibition, Paddington Studio, 2011, stoneware
AD: At this stage of your career, what is your ultimate ambition or dream for your work?
JMF: To get a piece into the Tate, Tate Modern or National/National Portrait Gallery has been a grand ambition since early childhood. Although this has been partly achieved it is never in the way you envisage. One of my works was shown at the Tate Modern just as it opened, in a show of London (local to Southwark) artists works. Also the National Gallery archives have a piece of my work. I dream of having a show at such a venue one day!
AD: What advice would you give to a young artist wishing to follow in your footsteps?
JMF: Be true to yourself and maintain integrity. Don’t let yourself be put off by rejection. See it as a challenge to placing your work in the right context. Avoid putting your creative energy into resolving conflict. Instead move out of the firing line and just get on with your work. Keep your overheads low so that you can make art your priority. Don’t be afraid of investing in yourself as if you don’t no one else will!
Jane McAdam Freud. Photo by by Jens Marott
AD: Do you have any new projects or shows coming up where people can see your work or hear you speak?
JMF: On now until December 14th 2012
‘Set’, (Archive Exhibition pairing student work with current practice). Lethaby Gallery, Central St. Martins
13th & 14th March 2013
Something Special Art Exhibition and Auction, Blackall Studios, Leonard Street, Shoreditch on , see info and video
4th, 5th August 2013, Co-Chair of Discussion Panel on Art Life of Sigmund Freud, Symposium on Psychological Birth and Infant Development, Freuds Birthplace, Pribor, Czech Republic.
11 January – 1 March 2013 Solo show, Gazelli Art House, Baku, Azerbyjian
Spring 2013 (Dates to be confirmed), Exhibition, Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, Moscow
May 15th – 18th 2014, Delivering Paper and Chairing a panel on Art/Object for the The 6th International Symposium, Psychoanalysis and Art, Florence.