In person Kirsty Wark is smaller, appears younger and has a sparkle in her eye that the BBC cameras don’t always catch. She is accustomed to tackling difficult subjects, dissecting current affairs and slippery politicians as a presenter on Newsnight. But, away from her screen persona and its dark sets and darker wardrobe choices, she is far more colourful than her television role permits.
Gesturing up to the Victorian cornicing in the drawing room of her home in Glasgow’s West End, she says she is considering having a colour consultation at Farrow & Ball. So many layers of paint have been applied to the cornice over the years that the definition and detail are starting to get lost. Her keen eye, she says, is something that she got from her parents: “My mother had a great eye for colour and we had a real eclectic mix in our home when I was growing up. It was a mixture of old things – antiques and auction-house finds – and new things. I think that has influenced my choices,” she says.
It was about much more than simply being brought up in a home where interior decoration mattered, though; Kirsty’s mother was very creative and dabbled in cookery, needlework, gardening and more. Kirsty refers to her as a ‘Scottish Martha Stewart’ but those traditions have remained with her and are present all over her home. “I found a letter the other day that my grandmother had written to my mother; in it, she talks about placing hyacinths in dark cupboards to help them grow,” she recalls. “I do that still. I think those kinds of links to the past are very important.”
It’s unsurprising to discover, then, that the Wark house, in which the family has lived for the last 17 years, has only ever been inhabited by three families. Not much has changed: there has been little in the way of structural alterations, and the fabric of the building has endured in exceptionally good order.
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Photography Neale Smith
Words Catherine Coyle
Art direction Gillian Welsh