Catherine Cavallo: ‘My earliest memory is a bollocking on my third birthday for not sharing my new toys’

Artist Catherine Cavallo tells all in our Q&A

Catherine Cavallo. Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday
Catherine Cavallo. Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday

The well-known contemporary painter, an accomplished and fully trained artist, found her inspiration both in the UK where she honed her figurative work and then in Italy, where her love for landscape painting was born, before returning to her home here in Malta. With a 1st class honours diploma from the City & Guilds School of Art in London, Catherine’s latest exhibition in oil paintings, ‘Serenity and Upheaval’, will be held at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts in Valletta from 3 to 23 December.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Have a cup of tea.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve received tons of good advice, it’s hard to pick one. Be kind, forgive, give without expecting back.

What do you never leave the house without?

Keys, sunglasses, wallet, and hopefully my phone too.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Volatile, a worrier, likes a good laugh.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Probably graduating from art school in my 20s, because it set me up (mentally at least) for the rest of my life. And having a family, although it’s not an achievement, but it feels like my best one.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Reading a book uninterruptedly from cover to cover, for as long as it takes to finish it.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Keep firm in your own beliefs. Never take anything for granted.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I’m not too sure. A desk I’d bought in my twenties comes to mind, my sister’s idea.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That there’s no need to worry so much about things. Life has its own way of falling into place.

Who’s your inspiration?

For me inspiration is in everyone, and it’s everywhere, there isn’t really a single ‘who’.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Oh definitely raising a child, no contest. It’s much harder than l ever imagined.

If you weren’t an author/entrepreneur what would you be doing?   

Fashion design always interested me, and l often think about it. Or something to do with writing.  Also, I adored modern dance as a teenager, and l wanted my father to send me to an art and dance school. He agreed to send me to art school.

Do you believe in God?

Yes. Absolutely.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Nice question.  John Cleese.

What’s your worst habit?


What are you like when you’re drunk?

Well, that’s probably better answered by others! I think on the whole I’m a happy drunk, and it’s fun because worries dissipate, and life is about the moment. l have been known to get emotional too...

Who would you have play you in a film?

This question has me laughing. I have absolutely no idea. Catherine Tate?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I deplore deception and deceit.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

l think I’d like something like a metal band singing a ballad.

What is your most treasured material possession?

l treasure something my mother had given me. The rest are more necessary/can’t-live-without things.

What is your earliest memory?

l have quite a few early memories like trying to get my flipflops on right, and my third birthday because l got a bollocking for not sharing my new toys.

When did you last cry, and why?

Probably not too long ago over something I’d have watched or read or heard. I think a good cry is pretty therapeutic.

Who would you most like to meet?

Jesus. And meeting Robin Williams would be lovely.

What’s your favourite food?

Japanese is a favourite. Or a plate of delicious finger food with lots of caviar and a bottle of red.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

l don’t follow Twitter or read blogs, it’s a hard one to answer. If l did start, then I might follow some celebrity comedian, like Ricky Gervais, or Catherine Ryan.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I’d like to travel back to a time when man and nature lived in harmony, although I’m not sure when that would be; a very long time ago I’d say.

What book are you reading right now?

I recently finished ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers, a perfect book to read during Covid lockdown. I’m permanently part-way through a couple of others that live on my bedside table, and I’m about to start ‘Her Lover’ by Albert Cohen.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to be able to fly like a bird.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

l don’t know; to feel that I’d painted my greatest painting probably, otherwise l might never feel ready to go.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment it’s mostly rock, and sometimes l need a dose of Italian music. And some soft metal.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

l like singing hymn-like songs in the shower cos the acoustics make it sound so good!