Cultural Life: Maggi Hambling, artist

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Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorised Autobiography, by Sebastian Horsley, was called original and completely disgusting by several of the critics. It is beautifully written and honest, but you have to be feeling quite tough to read it. In complete contrast, I'm reading, for probably the seventh time, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Marvellously, I always forget whodunnit. When I'm feeling really tired and I just want to get to sleep, the nostalgia of it sends me calmly off for a little while.


I get up so early to draw the sea in Suffolk – 5am in the summer, 6am in the winter – so I don't go to the cinema as often as I'd like. By 8pm, I can very easily be sound asleep. Therefore, what I watch is not quite up to the minute, but the film that most clearly is inside me is Atonement. I saw it at my local cinema in Aldeburgh, where my sculpture is on the beach. It is a marvellous cinema run by a team of enthusiastic ladies and the films always start at the same time, 7.30pm. I was very moved by it. I thought Vanessa Redgrave's cameo at the end was a masterpiece of acting.


I don't listen to music when I'm painting because I get distracted. In a break from painting I go for a bit of solitary dancing, in which case I put Dusty Springfield, George Melly and the sensational songs from La Cage aux Folles. I'm particularly cross at the moment that I can't get any tickets to the blasted show. I rang up last week and I was told it was booked up until March.


What sticks in my mind is the ENO's production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw, which I went to see in November. It was a very stark production, absolutely rightly, with a very sombre set, and the sexual overtones of the piece were brilliantly done. The play takes you to a mysterious place of the imagination, which is rare.

Maggi Hambling's Waves and Waterfalls exhibition is at Marlborough Fine Art, London W1 (020-7629 5161), to 2 February; 'Maggi Hambling: The Works and Conversations with Andrew Lambirth' is published by Unicorn Press, price £40