'Imagination will take you everywhere'
An interview with artist, Anthony Green
The first thing that strikes me when interviewing Anthony Green is how much he reminds me of Father Christmas. The artist is jolly, rotund and enthusiastic, with a glass of red wine in one hand; his other hand acts as a prop to enhance the flow of eloquent words which tumbles heartily from his mouth. But what surprises me the most is how utterly down to earth Green is, despite his eminence in the art world. A painter who’s achieved success on a grand scale; from being elected Royal Academician, being appointed trustee of the Royal Academy and elected to the New English Art Club, to name but a few. These amazing feats cement his status as one of the UK’s most distinguished artists. So why is he at our comprehensive school in rural Northamptonshire exhibiting his latest artwork in our modest gallery? The truth is I’m not too sure why (I suspect he’s a friend of our Head of Art), I’m just grateful that he’s answering questions from an inquisitive teenager.
Green’s parents wanted him to become a brain surgeon, so they were outraged when he said he wanted to become an artist as they immediately thought he was going to be “Promiscuous, drunk, do drugs, and never get out of bed”. Fortunately this never happened and Green spent four years at the Slade School of Art. He left in 1960 but was immediately confronted by a dilemma: “I didn’t know what artist I wanted to be, I could be Picasso, or Damien Hirst, or Tracey Emin. So I came up with a question; what am I really interested in? And the answer was; I was a young man in love and I thought I ought to be painting about that.” And that is exactly what he did; inspired by his girlfriend (the future Mrs Green) he created personal and emotive paintings which have evolved into a story about his life. Green explains that “Art about art tends to be sterile; it’s an intellectual game. Whereas painting something you are passionately in love with is a spiritual game.” For Green, art is his life and life is his art.
My encounter with Green is rapidly drawing to a close; more and more people are surging into the gallery, eagerly absorbing his breath-taking creations and awaiting with baited breath for his speech (which is as articulate and humorous as I expected). However we finish on an inspiring note. Green concludes, “We all have dreams but artists make them tangible; they are either musicians, or poets, or sculptors, or novelists, but they make their dreams come true. Other people make their dreams come true by completing amazing feats, like walking across the world. We all dream dreams and sometimes we’re lucky enough to make those dreams come true.” Anthony Green is certainly living his dream.