‘I am not a tidy person. My studio, in north London, is full of things. I have [a] wash-basin that’s not plumbed-in that was used as a prop for a painting. I’ve got a lot of dolls, and a lot of different animals; all like different characters in a play. I move them around as I tell the story for my picture. My favourite, at the moment, is Francesca, who has pigtails. Sometimes I need to hand-make a particular character for a story.

I love being in my studio. I chose it because it has two huge roof lanterns, which give the most amazing light. It was built in about 1900. The Rentokil man said that it’s like a five-star hotel for the mice.

I still like to work – even at 79. Nowadays I try to start at 10.30 in the morning and carry on until 6.30 in the evening. I always have a rest after lunch. I’ve done that since I was a little girl growing up in Portugal. I eat two rice-cake sandwiches for lunch, full of salad, and a bit of ham or cheese, and an apple. I drink peppermint tea. When I have finished work for the day I enjoy one glass of champagne.’ Paula Rego, quoted in The Guardian, available online:, accessed 17 April 2020.

Paula Rego’s Camden Town studio is situated moments away from Auerbach’s. Here, surrounded by props she has collected and made, including papier-mâché figures, stuffed animals and antique costumes, she creates her intense and courageous paintings and drawings.

Paula Rego’s studio, photographed by Louise Long, London, 2018