AS an artist David Freud has impeccable pedigree. His father, Lucian, was after all, one of the greatest portraitists of the 20th century and was grandson of the psychologist Sigmund Freud.

But with his father absent for much of his life, it was David’s mother, Kay McAdam, who inspired him and his three siblings to take their first steps as an artist.

“My mother was a wonderful artist who’d painted backdrops in churches whilst in Catholic boarding school, and made dresses for West End theatre after St Martin’s school of art where she met my father, Lucian,” says the artist, who has installed an exhibition of his work at Woodstock’s Dantzig Gallery, as part of its series of pop-up shows.

“She said she hadn’t wanted children and left Lucian and didn’t let him know where we were because it seemed like the only way to prevent her from having a fifth child.

“The four of us are all accomplished artists. Each one’s success benefits each other. It’s difficult to come out from the shadows of Lucian’s enormous fame and I never expected it but it’s happening.”

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He admits there are disadvantages to sharing the name of such a towering figure as his father.

“One drawback of having the Freud name is that some people see the name and make all sorts of impressions that are nothing to do with me. It gets me noticed, which isn’t something I always want, but is useful now as I’m not sure if you’d be interviewing me or if my work would such an obvious financial investment if I wasn’t a Freud.”

He goes on: “Being a Freud hasn’t had a positive effect on my family life. I became an artist after breaking up with the mother of my eldest children, the famous foraging expert Fern and Artificial Intelligence PhD student Kipp.

“It was part of a retreat from business and society after a disastrous relationship with someone I felt wanted me only for the name and what is often associated with it

“I gave her the money, marriage, child she wanted. It was painful for me to accept that was all she wanted. Her making it impossible for our child and I to communicate was the worst part. Perhaps that’s something I share with my father – though it’s easier now he’s dead. We have more time and understanding for each other.”

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. Picture by gallery manager Marc West

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. Picture by gallery manager Marc West

David’s show is the second in Dantzig’s series of pop-up ‘Woodstock Window’ shows, designed by gallery owner Marc West to help brighten up the town for people out taking their exercise, while giving a platform to artists, while the gallery is closed.

Freud is no stranger to Woodstock.

“Woodstock is one of my favourite places in the world,” he says. “I’ve been exhibiting in Oxfordshire for 10 years having had shows at Oxfordshire Museum, Brasenose College, Oxford University and Aidan Meller Galleries. My great friend and first cousin Matthew Freud lives nearby at Burford Priory.”

“The gallery can’t be open but the bills still need to be paid. Dantzig has become a little hub of culture and community and I’m very happy to help people support it by offering my work for sale exclusively through them.”

He is a huge fan of the gallery, set up by the late Dave Davies.

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“Dave was my exclusive agent and close friend,” he says. “The mention of his name brings a smile to my face and puts a spring in my step. He seemed to know and be loved by absolutely everyone so it would take us an hour to walk short distances through Woodstock and Oxford.

“I’m pleased to be helping Marc West, Dantzig’s new manager to support Dave’s partner Beth in keeping this part of his legacy thriving.”

The show is titled That doggy in the Woodstock Window – for obvious reasons. It takes its cue from all things canine. David is a huge dog fan, the family having kept them at the first-floor maisonette on the South London council estate which the family moved to after her mother left Lucian, when David was just two.

“I offered landscapes or dogs as the theme for this exhibition,” he says. “These are the two subjects closest to my heart.

“We’ve always had dogs. Mum used to take them in when people came to the door. We used to let Rex and Benji out of the door to run wild on the estate whenever they wanted until Rex was run over."

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. By Marc West

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. By Marc West

He adds: “My major inspiration is deep connection with nature and dogs are a good gateway to that.”

He does not own one at the moment though.

“I’m taking a break from owning a dog, not wanting to replace my last dog, Bones,”he says. “He lived to a ripe old age of 17 as my constant companion and took a lot of looking after in his final year. It’s just as well because shortly before lockdown, I had two major operations to cure a serious illness.”

Given his name and family connections, it’s hard to believe that he and his siblings grew up in poverty.

He recalls: “I was a shy child surrounded by secrecy about my father, embarrassed about asking my mother to borrow money from our neighbour, Mrs Khan so I could go swimming with my friends, ashamed of being poor.

“When a friend asked where my father was I said ‘He died in the war’. I grew up on the Alton Estate, Roehampton, London, SW15. It’s very close to Richmond Park where my breath was often taken away by the beauty of birds and majesty of wild deer. I enjoyed scrumping for fruit hanging over the garden walls in nearby Barnes and East Sheen and didn’t enjoy being taken by my brother to shoplift for it. We were bright enough to get free places in the best schools but without money for my uniform so we stole it.”

He has grown to come to terms with his family baggage, however, and recently trained as a psychotherapist.

He said: “Training as a psychotherapist included having counselling myself. Counselling helped me through my break up and transition from businessman to artist. I chose art when I was 17, telling my brother, Paul I was devoting myself to it even if it meant I had to live in the park. He persuaded me to make some money first, to pay mum’s rent etc. Doing that and starting my own family kept me busy until I was 39.”

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. By Marc West

David Freud at Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock. By Marc West

While the Dantzig show will be of particular interest to dog lovers, he is looking forward to exploring his passion for landscapes.

He says: “One of the reasons I became an artist was to spend more time with my dog, so I’ve really enjoyed making this show which includes work that can be viewed as decorative or conceptual. I like to think art can also be pivotal, a focal point or event around which new intentions and behaviours form.

“But I’m concentrating on landscapes and flowers now. My eldest daughter Fern has asked me for paintings to go in a new book she’s writing about foraging for wild food with accompanying recipes and folklore.”

  • Dantzig Gallery is at 1 Market Street, Woodstock. 01993 812000.