Kathleen Soriano began her career at the Royal Academy of Arts 30 years ago. In 1989 she joined the National Portrait Gallery, where as Head of Exhibitions & Collections she was responsible for national and international programmes and oversaw some of its most successful exhibitions, including shows on Mario Testino, Henri Cartier Bresson, Annie Leibovitz and Helmut Newton. January 2009 saw her appointed to Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy where she programmed and developed projects such as Bronze, David Hockney, Van Gogh and Degas. Since April 2014 she has been working independently on artistic and cultural projectS. She has written extensively in her field and her broadcast activities include the first and second series of Portrait Artist of the Year for Sky ArtS.

If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?

My vanity would be satisfied if I were able to sit for Titian or, better still given my Spanish heritage, Velázquez. To be portrayed with the grandeur, nobility and lusciousness that those two artists achieve would be a great honour, although I might have to ask them to ignore Oliver Cromwell’s plea to Sir Peter Lely to paint him ‘warts and all’ - a slice of flattery would be more than welcome. 

Who inspires you and why? An artist, a family member, someone current or historical?

I take a little from everyone each and every day. Yesterday, my soul soared again with the possibilities presented to me by Charlotte Schepke who runs The Large Glass on Caledonian Road in London. Charlotte reminds us all what art is really about and provides space for artists to get back in touch with their practice, outside of the wheeling dealing art world that we inhabit. 

What are your cultural aspirations? What do you still want to see, do and achieve?

My main ambition at the moment is to get way ahead of the curve ...once I’ve finished installing my Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy that is... Once I’ve managed to get ahead of the curve, I’ll settle down with a nice little house by the sea, or ideally across many houses by the sides of many seas. 

What are your favourite cultural cities in the world and why?

Valencia (for heritage reasons), Copenhagen (for the train that takes you to the Louisiana Museum), Turin, Bergamo (for the artist Giovanni Battista Moroni), Rome, Vienna, London, Sydney, Paris, Antwerp, Tilburg (for the De Pont Foundation), Portland (for the micro-breweries), Bremen (the home of Paula Modersohn Becker), Palma (where art and beach live in harmony), New York, New York.

What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it?

The first ever Anselm Kiefer retrospective opens at the Royal Academy of Arts on 27 September and runs until 14 December, so for most of September you’ll find me in the 20,000sq feet of galleries with Anselm installing his great work. Once the show is open we’re both heading off to CERN in Geneva for a good look at the large hadron collider. It felt like a just reward for someone who is interested in the microcosm and the macrocosm. In between, I’ll be finishing off the filming for our second series of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year show, due to be aired later this year.