How We Met: Miranda Richardson & Kate Dineen

'I've blubbed to her more than once, and she's quite tough – she tells you exactly what to do'
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The Independent Online

Miranda Richardson, 49, shot to fame playing the whimsical Queenie alongside Rowan Atkinson in 'Blackadder II' in 1986, and has since appeared in many films, including 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'. She lives alone in west London.

I was wandering around the Green Park area around the time I was filming Blackadder, and popped into the Erco lighting shop on Dover Street. There was an exhibition of Rajasthani frescoes in the showroom and I immediately fell in love with one of the works – a running horse. It just spoke to me: the vibrant colours, the finish, its depiction of the natural world. But it had a "sold" sticker on it, so I left my details with the vivacious, sunny blonde I'd spotted in the gallery so she could call me if the sale fell through. The blonde turned out to be Kate and she called me two days later – the horse was mine.

My next memory of Kate is from several years later. I was working in Dublin on a film called All For Love, directed by Harry Hook, in 1998, and it came up in conversation that Harry had lived with the documentary maker Molly Dineen. "Any relation to Kate Dineen?" I asked. It turned out that they were sisters and that Kate was about to have a new show, so I got an invite.

Kate had just come back from India and looked wonderful. She was now a fully fledged artist whose work had moved on. I remember being a bit shy and didn't buy anything, but we got chatting and clicked.

Kate and I share a love of India, so it's perverse that one of my fondest memories of her is a trip there without her. She was busy working, so I went with her husband, Paul, and the rest of her team. I would phone or text her all the time to tell her what colours we were seeing, what markets we were in, the sounds, the smells. It was as if she was with us.

I now have four of Kate's pieces. They're all fabulous and have pride of place in my homes. I've got a beautiful pink square and a purple "Smartie", which is lit from behind on my wall so that it looks like a marvellous eclipse.

Kate is a great listener and up for most of the things I'm up for. We drop into each other's lives all the time and see films together or catch a show. She's a very warm person – much warmer than I am – and there's no getting away with anything with her: you can bat her away a little, but eventually you have to come clean.

Kate Dineen, 45, graduated from the Royal College of Arts in 1987 and won a scholarship to study Araash, or Rajasthani fresco painting, with the only surviving master of the craft, the late Gyarsilal Varma. She has exhibited works in London, New York and Bombay. She lives in west London with her husband, Paul, and daughter, Caelo, five.

When Miranda walked out of the gallery the first time we had met, everybody was whispering, "That was Miranda Richardson." I said "Who?" I had no idea who Miranda was – I'm not very good at things like that. I just happened to be at the gallery when this woman had walked in, and I remember having a conversation with her. She struck me as being very nice; she understood my work and what I did, and asked pertinent questions. I've never met someone who wasn't in my world who was so in tune with colour and texture.

Miranda seems to have a mental blank about the whole period that followed that first meeting, but we kept bumping into each other – in a shoe shop on the Kings Road in Chelsea and then in the Conran Shop, where we ended up sharing a plate of prawns. It was quite spooky to discover how many things in common we had. We'd even bought the same socks once and liked so many of the same things.

Obviously I know now who Miranda is and I think she's a wonderful actor. Of course Queenie was great – she's so funny when she does comedy – but she's often cast as a scary woman because she has a glassy beauty that's quite impenetrable; she does "psychotic nutter" very well, but I quite like her more accessible roles.

Recently Caelo picked up some tapes of the Horrid Henry children's books, and we put them on in the car. A few minutes in, Caelo started saying "Miranda! Miranda!" I hadn't even realised it was her doing the narration. Caelo adores her. We're very good at dropping in on Miranda at ungodly hours. We turned up in our nighties once and she's always very welcoming. Caelo loves the safari park element of her house – she has lots of dogs and cats and fish.

She's also a fabulous godmother. She hasn't missed a single birthday and last year drove from Somerset to London and back to be at her party. She takes the role very seriously, although at first she was worried about the religious aspect of it all. I said I didn't care about that – that I just wanted her to be a friend to Caelo.

I've blubbed to Miranda on more than one occasion and she's quite tough – she tells you exactly what to do. Sometimes you need somebody like that – tough, but not brusque – and that's why I asked her to be Caelo's godmother. When I'm the last person on the planet Caelo wants to go anywhere near, Miranda will be somebody who will be a friend who I totally trust to do and say the right thing. She's solid. *

Kate Dineen's exhibition is at Robert Sandelson Gallery on Cork Street, London W1 (tel: 0207 439 1001, www.robert sandelson.com), 21 November to 18 January

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