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Creating my Nursery Rhyme prints

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Paula Rego Artist
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He had his exhibition at the Whitechapel that Nick invited him and it was just marvellous because it was... it was, you know, everything coming together. It was wonderful; he was so happy, had a wonderful catalogue and it looked fantastic. And, yes. And... and then he... and then died, he just died, slowly, but he died. And we were there with him, the children and I, and afterwards... I’d... I’d already done these drawings for the dance. He... I said, ’What shall I do next?’ He said, ’Do people dancing’. Oh, that’s so difficult, oh. So I did a lot of drawings of people dancing and they were mostly girls and so-on. And I showed it to him and he said, ’Put some men in it, it’s really boring, just women’. So I said, ’You’re right’, so I put some men in there. Then he died. I did one more drawing and I spent six months, just six months in the studio, painting it, that’s all I did. One very large picture? A very large one that the Tate has and I was smoking myself stupid, 35 fags a day and working. And... oh God, it took me so long to do it, kept changing it and everything like that. I finished it. It was too late to go in the Serpentine. It was supposed to go in the Serpentine, but it was too late for the show. And... and then I finished it; it was a relief. I finished that and I gave up smoking, went to Southend, threw my fags in the sea and never... never smoked again. That’s right.

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, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2007

Date story went live: 17 July 2008