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Picking up any English speaker

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'Just draw, just draw'
Paula Rego Artist
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It was a huge winemaking barn that had been my grandfather’s and it had an enormous bar... barn owl once flew in. It was so frightening, I thought, God, it’s an angel come in here. So I had to put grills up on the windows and we worked there. And I got stuck because I was trying to draw people and do this stuff I was taught at the Slade. Oh, I couldn’t do it; it was boring. And I said, ‘Vic, I don’t know what to do’. So do you know what he did? He got a blue bowl with some orange... oranges in it and stuck it on the table and said: ’Do that’. And I said: ‘Vic, I can’t do this, this is... this is just terrible’. And so I didn’t do it; I couldn’t do... I couldn’t do painting like that at all. He said: ’Just draw, just draw’ and that’s what I did and what I’ve done ever since: just draw. And I did. And I drew from my head, I drew all sorts of things. I filled up immense amounts of papers with everything and so-on, and so-on and so-on. So that was... we lived there for quite a while. About six years, or something like that? From 1957 till 19... yeah. Well, in ’63 we bought the house in Albert Street so you see it was quite a long time. And we... I came to England to have the children, I had two more children; I’d come to England to have them so they’d have British passports. And we went back there again.

Portuguese painter Paula Rego, became part of the London Group in 1965, was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989 and became the first Associate Artist of the National Gallery in London in 1990. Her work is strongly influenced by folk and fairy tales, especially those of her homeland.

Listeners: Catherine Lampert

Catherine Lampert is an independent curator, art historian and Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts. She was director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1988-2001) and has been a model for Frank Auerbach since 1978. Her recent projects include exhibitions of Rodin (Royal Academy 2006) and Lucian Freud (Dublin, Denmark and The Hague 2007-2008) as well as a book on Francis Alys (Turner Libros) and a catalogue raisonné of Euan Uglow's paintings (Yale University Press 2007).

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2007

Date story went live: 17 July 2008