Peter Blake on his ‘last necessary show’

We have met instead at his home nearby. It’s a lovely house, with dark-walled, marvel-filled rooms recessing into the distance. He lives with his second wife, Chrissy. The two have been married since 1987 and have a daughter, Rose. Blake also has two daughters from his previous marriage to artist Jann Haworth – Liberty and Daisy.

Blake, a little rumpled in his signature black suit and red braces, presides over a well-tended living room on the first floor. Even on a short January afternoon, it is awash with light. The radiators are set to equatorial.

He spent yesterday signing prints of a collage made “in the style of Peter Blake” by an AI robot – essentially a watercolour brush on a mechanical arm. It is a performance project, “curated” by Blake, in conjunction with Mandarin Oriental. “It can do a broad line or a tiny line,” he says, sounding impressed. “It’s exciting at this kind of extreme of life to be involved in the latest technology – a compliment in a way, but it won’t be much use to me. I’d rather have a pencil.”

We talk a little about AI – “clever, a bit frightening, I mean I have no idea how it works” – and whether he’ll go to see the AI Elvis performing in London this autumn. After all, Blake once said that he wanted people to have the same emotional experience in front of his (many) paintings of Elvis as they would in front of the King himself. “Maybe,” he says. “I’d be interested to see that.”

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Blake’s special connection to musicians is legendary. Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Chrissie Hynde and Roger Daltrey were among the parade of stars who helped mark his 80th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall. A decade later, his 90th birthday was marked with another celebratory concert at the Royal Festival Hall, curated by Paul Weller. He attributes it to a formula of friendship and hero-worship, “though with Paul Weller, the situation’s sort of reversed. He’s my hero, but I’m his hero as well. Robbie Williams and I were friends for a long time. I was most impressed with Brian Wilson. I love his work, you know. I love those songs.”

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