If you could live with just one work of art, what would it be?
The day I went to see the Piero della Francesca frescoes in Sansepolcro was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had with visual art. It was my 21st birthday and I sat immobile in front of The Resurrection for—I don’t know—at least an hour. I felt rooted to the spot by it—the figure of Christ that seems both human and godly, the sleeping soldiers guarding the sarcophagus unaware of the Messiah in their midst, dead trees cinematically springing back into life as if the painting is developing in front of you in real time. I could look at it forever—but to live with it, I’d have to get the whole of Sansepolcro’s Palazzo dei Conservatori transported to London, which might be a headache.
Which cultural experience changed the way you see the world?
Watching John Berger’s Ways of Seeing  on TV in my early 20s taught me that there are always multiple viewpoints of a supposedly “fixed” object. The lens may change, fashions come and go, but there are always new viewpoints and insights to gain.
Which writer or poet do you return to the most?
Charles Dickens for character; John Donne for invention and pure originality; Nikolai Gogol for sinister, fatalistic weirdness and John le Carré for page-turning story.
What music or other audio do you listen to as you work?
Music is never just background noise for me—I can’t have it on and not concentrate on either the physicality of the performance or the compositional ideas at play. I need either absolute silence or, conversely, a very noisy café to really get down to work.
What are you watching, listening to or following that you would recommend?
Colin from Accounts [an Australian comedy series] is one of the most adorable, generous and human series I’ve watched for a long time. It’s hard to do a romantic sitcom and not end up feeling like the writers have played it for cheap laughs or mawkish sentimentality. But the couple here—and their dog with wheels—make you fall in love with being in love.
What is art for?
Art is for whatever you want it to be—to provoke, to make you think, laugh or weep. Or you can stop thinking and feeling and just enjoy something nice to look at. Take from it what you will. Once the artist has handed it over and it’s out there in public, it’s your plaything.