The Australian artist, turning 80 this year, toyed with the idea of being a pianist until nerves got the better of him.

When I was seven my grandfather made me a silent piano. I was very interested in the keyboard, even if it didn’t make any noise except for the sound of wood clacking away. I had lessons from a neighbour back then, but I can’t say I was very good as I’m afraid I didn’t practise – I used to sit with my feet up on the piano!

When I was 13 I took it up again and used to accompany people at eisteddfods. Eventually I ended up as a state finalist in the 1957 ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition. I had been toying with the idea of being a pianist, but I knew after the contest that I wouldn’t have the nerve to do it. So I continued as a part-time pianist who was mainly concerned with doing an art course.

Cow (spotted), 1985

Once I married in 1958 I didn’t have any more lessons, not really until 1990 when I took it up again...