I love magazines. I mean quality magazines that have good design and good writing. It started as a student - I used to buy a men's magazine (no not that sort) called Town; excellent typography, fashion, and articles by writers like Jeffrey Bernard (though I think he was feeling unwell even then). Other now defunct mags of the time were Nova, and an excellent German one called Twen. For a while after college I was Assistant Art Director of Harpers Bazaar when Queen Victoria was a subscriber, and then did some work on Andy Warhol's Interview in NY.
Another magazine that Queen Victoria may well have actually subscribed to is Country Life (est.1897), the magazine so beloved of waiting rooms everywhere, where we peruse property we can't afford and read announcements of the engagement of girls called Annabel to boys called Tarquin. But it is a really excellent magazine, and here's why. In a recent issue they invited the actress Susan Hampshire (aka Lady Kulukundis) to talk about her favourite painting and guess what, yes, she chose one of mine called Serrato II, Andalucia. I know, of all the paintings in all the world ... I really like Susan Hampshire. Her short piece was accompanied by a longer piece written by the Sunday Telegraph Art Critic John McEwen.
For the hard of hearing, here's what she said:
"I'd always gravitated towards the French Impressionists, and artists such as Chagall and Matisse; then, about 15 months ago, I discovered Poul Webb at Francis Kyle Gallery, and suddenly thought how much I'd love to own a work by this living artist. He paints places that you'd love to go to, and uses such vibrant colours. This one, which was on the front of a calendar my sister sent me, is such a splash of joy"
Talking of actresses, another one, the lovely Maureen Lipman has become a supporter of my work over the last few years. Here I am trying to think of something intelligent to say to her. I think I failed.
This got me thinking about what I would have chosen as my favourite painting, and that turned out to be much harder than I'd imagined. The Van Eyck Altarpiece in Ghent, a landscape by Grant Wood or Peter Doig? A few years ago I went to a retrospective show at Tate Modern of the American Abstract Expressionist Barnett Newman. It was a revelation, and I loved all the work, but the biggest impact was made by the sheer scale and bravado of one work, a wall of red - Vir Heroicus Sublimis (no, I don't know what it means either) - which at 18 feet x 8 feet wouldn't fit in my living room.