How We Met: Angela Flowers & Victoria Glendinning

 

Victoria Glendinning, CBE 75

A critic, broadcaster, novelist and biographer of fellow writers including Anthony Trollope and Leonard Woolf, Glendinning (standing, right) lives in Bruton, Somerset, with her husband

I was in West Cork, Ireland, in 1990  and I heard of this incredibly glamorous person called Angela Flowers who held amazing parties at her house. One day, in August 1994, a mutual friend took me to one. She had this beautiful house full of art and a view down to the sea. I couldn’t help noticing her glamour and huge hospitality, and [after that] I’d dip in and out, whenever I was over in Cork.

There were lots of parties to go to: every August, every Easter Sunday, and New Year’s Day lunches. I remember this big farmhouse table that she had, around which people would burst into song – she’s very good herself – and she always looked amazing. I’m the sort of person that, if I try to look glamorous, I just put on a shiny jacket over what I’m wearing. But she’d wear robes and kaftans and jewellery made by a distinguished friend.

She was no ordinary gallery owner. She had a deep connection with her artists. She was always opening exhibitions for them and for one she made me go out with her to buy this silver-lamé trouser suit. I’m not a good shopper but with her sense of style and energy, she made it a lot of fun.

She and Bob [the late writer and business journalist Robert Heller] had lived together for ever before they got married [in 2003], and until then there was always this feeling of would they,  or would they not? Sometimes it got  a bit edgy [between them]. So it was wonderful when they finally did it.

But there is also a sad topping and tailing of our friendship. In 1994, just before we met, my [second] husband [Terence de Vere White] had died and  I was out of my mind. And now Angela’s husband has died from Parkinson’s, too, three months ago. But in between this sorrow, there’s been a lot of happiness.

We’re quite different. I’m a writer by trade, so I’m more solitary. She gets out  a lot, running her galleries and endlessly nurturing her artists. Her impact on the art [scene] has been huge. In the 1980s she showed that women could be businesswomen and make an impact  on things they were passionate about.

Angela Flowers, 80

One of the UK’s most prominent contemporary-art dealers, Flowers  has exhibited many of Britain’s most distinguished artists. She has galleries in London’s Shoreditch and Mayfair, and one in New York. She lives in Oxfordshire

I loved her from first sight. I’d already heard about her as a great writer before we met, shortly after her [second] husband had died. I was putting on  an annual exhibition in the back of my cottage, and people came out from England and all over, and a mutual friend brought her. She was much taller then I’d imagined, willowy and very smiley.

 She lived only 14 miles away from  me, and after her first few visits she asked me and my daughter [the artist] Rachel [Heller] to lunch at her place. There was something about Victoria’s personality that was so delightful and open – she wasn’t pompous like some. She gets on well with Rachel, too – and when Rachel became a recognised  artist, Victoria actually went on to  buy the biggest nude figure-painting  my daughter had ever painted, which was a great honour.

She invited me to her wedding [to  the businessman Kevin O’Sullivan] in 1996 – a wonderful party at the National Gallery – and it was a joy for me to see  her happy again after losing her second husband. And through it all there was  I, living in the hope that I’d get married myself, too, which I eventually did.

I knew that her second husband had died of Parkinson’s disease, so when mine was diagnosed with it, we met up several times and she told me what was likely to happen. It drew us closer  at the time, but then we started losing touch after that; I wanted to talk to her about it, but frankly I was Robert’s  main carer night and day, and I felt as  if there wasn’t much I could ask her.

When Robert and I moved down to Oxfordshire in 2009, I found the garden shed was so big I couldn’t resist making  it into a little art gallery, so I invited her  to come over and open it. During the official opening Victoria spent the afternoon there with my husband in  the summer house, chatting. She sent  me a lovely letter afterwards telling me how dignified he was with Parkinson’s, which was very touching.

I wish I could write like she does, but I’ve always dealt in pictures. She’s such  a good biographer, I think, because as well as doing her homework she has  this humanity and humour. Yet what  I love about her is how she wears her distinction very lightly.

Angela Flowers at 80 is at Flowers  Gallery, London E2, until 9 February.  For more: flowersgallery.com

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up