AC: Although you make it clear that your drawings are to be considered as a separate body of work from the paintings, are there connections or parallels between the two? And if so, what can we learn about the paintings from the drawings (and vice versa)?
JH: I don’t know that there are many connections or parallels between the paintings and drawings. At least not from the seventies (which is what we are mainly talking about here). I think that with the abstract works of the nineties, there is more interaction, in that the drawings from that time were often forerunners or ways into the paintings. They worked more in tandem in exploring form and space, but the early works are really, I feel, two separate bodies of work, with the drawings often being ahead in achievement and clarity. The seventies paintings are often rougher and more immediate, as opposed to the drawings, which are more sophisticated and refined.
AC: In the past you have also discussed the idea of a “condensation of experience”—that is, the idea that human life leaves a trace on the landscape, on the city and so on. This is a lovely metaphor—it makes me think of time as a stratum, and you as an archaeologist digging through the reside of all those years. Could you talk specifically about how your painting practice relates to this idea of accumulated time?
JH: There is a strong element of revisiting the past in my work, which now even means encompassing my own past. The need to go back and scavenge through what has gone before and to make it new, to bring it into the present, to bring it into the light, is a strong impulse and desire. To try to make something permanent and lasting from the materials, objects and images thrown up by previous civilisations is probably foolhardy and, in the present age, probably irrational, but I have a strong desire to do so—to use painting to make something lasting. It feels as though my contribution, at the end of civilisations, is to make of their ruins and of what is left something to see and to hold on to: something constructed from the past that we can see now as fresh, vital and new.