I have invited people to come and see my renderings of angels and Easter eggs. Why that particular combination? Angels heralded Christmas and announced that Jesus was risen, so they are part of the Christian story, as they also are of the Muslim and Jewish ones, but it is the Easter Bunny who lays Easter eggs, not angels. Milton supposed that angels made love, but out of pure affection, not to produce any kind of offspring, although I presume beings with wings might logically be supposed to lay eggs. In fact this particular combination is due to the fact that I find both angels and eggs easy to draw and so I draw them again and again.
A child was once asked, “How do you draw?” She replied, “I think and then I draw a line around my think.” I do it the other way round: I draw and then the think appears out of nowhere. Why should angels and eggs appear so frequently out of nowhere? Or I suppose a psychologist would say, out of my subconscious?
Both eggs and angels have been familiar to me from an early age and almost equally rare and precious, since eggs were in short supply in England, owing to wartime food rationing. Some of my earliest memories are of teatime as the last meal of the day, with me eating a boiled egg out of a silver Christening egg cup engraved with my initials BJB and with the help of a small silver spoon, similarly engraved. This was very important to me as I had been told that someone born to riches and honour had been born with silver spoon in his mouth, and I considered that this was the silver spoon I had been born with. Also I was taught to pray when I went to bed for the angels to look after me and carry my soul away if I died in the night. This was often told to children, and some found it frightening. I found it reassuring because as a child in wartime I knew I was liable to die and liked to think I would be looked after.
When my brother Malcolm is asked, “Where do you get the ideas for your art?” he says, “Out of my childhood memories.” I could say the same thing.