Stuart Cumberland and Phillip Allen first met in the early ’90s. They were introduced to one another by Jake Miller before his East End gallery space, The Approach, had opened. They instantly hit it off and, as Stuart remarks, “If I didn’t know Phil I’d want to meet him…”
Stuart Cumberland: What are your eight desert island discs?
Philip Allen: In no order:
1. Jonny Clarke — ‘Crazy Baldheads’
2. Junior Murvin — ‘Tedious’
3. Black Sabbath — ‘Planet Caravan’
4. Family — ‘Burlesque’
5. Erik Satie — ‘Gnoissienne 3’
6. White Stripes — ‘Black Math’
7. The Hollies — ‘Stop, Stop, Stop’
8. Kate Bush — ‘Waking the Witch’
PA: Is there something that you will never grow out of or be too old for?
SC: I can’t imagine not being involved in painting — looking, responding, doing… I’m sure I’ll always want coffee and cake at some point in the day. I hope I grow out of buying things for the sake of buying — like buying books, piling them up and not reading them.
SC: Do you find it easy to be with people?
PA: I find that there are a handful of friends that I am very comfortable interacting with; however I’m not one for the big gathering, event or occasion. When it comes to people-watching, though, I could do that for hours.
PA: What one emotion do you tend to battle with most?
SC: Very good questions! Jealousy? Envy? What one emotion? Could that include desire and vanity? I’ll have to plump for jealousy but it’s getting better.
SC: Day-to-day — what’s a joy and what’s a chore?
PA: Well, painting incorporates both of these. Getting up is a real chore. I like the anticipation of what the postman will deliver, or hasn’t. I found changing gears in my old car a real chore so I bought an automatic. Cleaning brushes is a chore. The joys are the things that bring a smile to my face; dogs make me laugh.
PA: One book, one album, one film… what are they?
SC: Book: Kafka — The Trial
Album: Marvin Gaye— What’s Goin’ On
Film: Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood
SC: What would you do with a time machine?
PA: I would use the time machine until it hurt me. First stop would be to the grassy knoll via Area 51 to see (or not) the UFO. Then all the way back to confirm Jesus’ existence, briefly stopping off on the way to see the beheading of Charles I, spotting the Armada off the south coast and having some mead with the Venerable Bede, up Northumberland way. I’d then help Pepys dig up his precious parmesan.
PA: If you could name a chocolate bar, what would it be called?
SC: It may seem lazy but I’ve actually given it much thought. I’d call a chocolate bar ‘Chocolate Bar’. It’d be plain choc, not anything like a Mars or Snickers.
SC: What’s your greatest achievement?
PA: My greatest achievement is my 22-year relationship with Helen.
PA: Can I trust you? Or are you a good liar?
SC: You can trust me, but I’m becoming a better liar.