'I started to paint seriously...
1962

I started to paint seriously in February 1960. I had always been good at drawing, painting and model-making throughout my childhood in an eclectic sort of way. I think it is true to say that I felt that art was the most important thing in life. (I don’t think that now – or at least I wouldn’t put it like that now.) I was musical – played the flute, but didn’t get on with musicians either at school, at home or later at Cambridge where a passionate interest in modern jazz put other forms of music out of my mind for four or five years. I think modern poetry was my first adult art experience. This was at Public School. I still read a lot of poetry. At Cambridge I knew I wanted to be an artist – not a painter, although on the strength of about six highly eclectic pictures done during those years, I was thought of as a ‘painter’ rather than a ‘writer’, a footballer etc. But I knew nothing about painting – about the history of art since Cezanne. My main beliefs at this time of my life were a simple belief in what I called existentialism and by which I meant a belief that the individual must be self-sufficient and self-actuated, and an inarticulate desire to be an artist in the future. I became interested in cinema and wanted to become a film maker. What I didn’t understand then was that the medium an artist uses is only the means to an end, and not an end in itself. I became fascinated by technique and the visual possibilities of cinema. The only ‘ideas’ I was concerned with were vague poetic images. I wanted to make a film of an Eliot poem! Really of course I didn’t have any reason for making a film except the fascination of images changing within the four sides of the viewfinder – that’s not film making. I tried to get into the film industry when I came down from Cambridge but, luckily or wisely my contact let me down. I went into an advertising agency first in Manchester then in London. I think at this time – I was 24 I was very immature emotionally and intellectually. I had hardly started. Yet contemporaries of mine at Cambridge were already writing books editing magazines and acting in West End plays! I remained a public school boy throughout my National Service – I was a 2nd Lt in an infantry regiment – and a good thing too or I should...(ends)