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Culture vulture

Views of old and new London give David Downes inspiration for his art

Favourite view

I like to draw from unusual views. I look at things and I can memorise them and imagine myself looking down on them from above. I'm very fond of Stoke Newington (pictured) in London, where I live. But Hackney Marshes is my favourite place to draw, and the East End, and views of London from Hampstead Heath. From Hackney Marshes you can see a mixture of landscape and industry, old London and modern London all combined. I also like Highgate Cemetery. I drew Marx's tomb there.

Favourite artist

I've always been a big fan of Turner. I like the way he uses light. I'm interested in artists who express the time they live in, such as Otto Dix.

He was a German expressionist artist in the Thirties and was anti-fascism.

I like Stanley Spencer. He's able to get so much imagination and symbolism into his art without it being false. He can combine people and landscapes.You can see some of his work in the Imperial War Museum and some in Tate Britain.

Worth reading

I read art magazines: Creative Review, Artists' Newsletter and Artists and Illustrators. I've only read a few books, when I've been forced to. I did enjoy Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I'm writing and illustrating a book myself, about growing up with Asperger's syndrome. I didn't know I had AS until 2001, but I knew I was different. It's about how I've been treated and how I see the world.

Best film ever

The Hustler, with Paul Newman. I like the fact that this character was ridiculously talented at pool and thought he knew it all. When I was a kid I really liked war films such as The Guns of Navarone. I watch them now, but I understand it's all a bit silly.

Treat in store

I have an exhibition opening for a month from April 20 at the journalists'

church: St Bride's in Fleet Street, London. I can take a week to do a large picture; I will have about 15 or 20 in the show. My work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Prize, which is very encouraging for me.

David Downes, 33, is an artist and occasional lecturer at the Royal College of Art. He has Asperger's syndrome. His work can also be seen at www.daviddownes.btinternet.co.uk. He was talking to Karen Gold

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