Lunch with Gilbert and George

Writing a preview of the Gilbert and George exhibition I find myself unexpectedly invited to lunch in the Tate’s smart restaurant with the artist duo themselves, and a chance to interview them direct. Rather surreally the sheafs of unbound catalogue essays I was carrying were caught by a terrific gust of wind and blown to blazes, I ran around picking them all up and managed to get most of them back. Gilbert and George are nattily attired in their matching suits and brightly coloured ties with giant ants on them and we feasted on pollock on risotto and discussed changing attitudes to their work and the transition to computer work.

They were amused to be being interviewed by Country Life and poured out their interest in architecture, especially Pugin, and furniture of the 19th and early 20th century. We discussed their walks around Liverpool Street and I reflect that in interests – tailored suits, historic architecture, collecting furniture – they have rather the profile of a Country Life reader. I promise to send them a copy of Clive Aslet’s article on the Grange, Pugin’s house that he built for himself. I am in awe of Gilbert and George’s work, powerful and consistent and scary as well. The preview appears in February 15, the day the exhibition opens.