I want everything I do to look spontaneous. It’s not that I think illustration should necessarily be like that, but this is what I can do. I do draw it quite fast, or at least I draw bits of it quite fast, and then I stop and I walk around here and I look at it again and see if that’s right, because if it’s going wrong, I just throw that away and start again.
The speed of the lines, and whether they are fast or slow, or whether they are rugged or smooth, kind of suggests the gesture in it all. I think I am what is happening on the page. I have had, once or twice, friends who have come into this room and said, ‘You were making the faces, you know!’ [laughs]
Inside you, you are doing the gestures. Even if you are a mother swimming about under water, you are doing that. And they are not drawn from life at all; they are invented. But they are invented from what you can remember of Life classes, or looking at people, and so on and so on. So I want them to be spontaneous like that.
The book is called Beyond the Page, and I called it that because what I did was to get ready two exhibitions, and then what was completely new for me was to do a lot of work in museums and in hospitals. And they are all illustrated in the book.
It’s important to remember it’s a drawing as well as being something which appears on a wall; and that can happen because of contemporary digital printing, which is amazing. They are not murals; they are done here; they are done there, in fact. So nothing is drawn bigger than something like that.
It’s an extraordinary technological development. A lot of artists now work on the screen, you know, and do things on the computer and so on, and sort of bring things together. I can’t do that. I like drawing things where there’s a scratching, you know, so you can feel them, you know, and I’ve got all kinds of reeds and quills and heaven knows what here. But they are all things where you can actually feel the shape of the body that you’re drawing, and the gesture that you’re drawing.
I was thinking about this book, and Tate Publishing. They said yes. That was a wonderful experience for me, because they understood what it was about perfectly. This book is really exactly the sort of book I wanted it to be.