‘My mother could draw – she won a scholarship to go to art school in England. Her mother pulled her out and made her go and do a job that she really hated somewhere. It’s terrible.

‘My father really should have been an academic but, through all sorts of things – poverty and a long story – ended up not being able to do that but going into various types of business. He eventually ended up doing what he wanted. He was a writer historian and wrote the Pictorial History of Newtown. That’s my dad, Alan Sharpe. He was a historian but a creative and imaginative person. He wasn’t a visual artist, but I feel that I got my art thing from him.

‘Even though they had gone bankrupt at one stage and had very little money, they were still anxious to do everything they could to help me do what I wanted in life.

‘I haven’t done anything else but art all of my life. I was the only person in my school who didn’t do maths or science for the HSC because I knew that I wasn’t going to be interested in either of them. I went straight from school to art school.

‘To earn a living, I was an artist model and taught part-time. I’ve never had a full-time job except now with painting which is fabulous, but I always just accepted poverty back then.

‘Creativity and the arts are something you’ll have all your life and it’s never wasted. It is enrichment that is forever.

‘Life is chance. You do make your own luck but only to an extent. If you’re out there doing stuff it’s far more likely to happen. It is chance – that’s chaos theory. That’s scary but it’s also good.

‘You have to put yourself out there or nothing will happen. You can’t guarantee if you do all these things that this will happen; it may not, but you’ve got to give it a go.

‘One of my favourite quotes is from Picasso: “Inspiration exists but it has to find us working.”’

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