David Thorpe was born in London and studied at Humberside University in Hull and at Goldsmith’s College in London.

In an interview in 2001 with Stephen Hepworth Thorpe described his work: ‘These private hidden worlds come from films such as Diamonds are Forever, or Brian De Palma’s Body Double. I remember an amazing interior from a Peter Sellars film with a cocktail party going on in a front room full of rocks, rugs and bubbling streams with wooden bridges over them. There are very decorative buildings, with eclectic materials, a manic home-made-ness, a mad hybrid of progressive structural engineering, Barratt home and ritzy Hollywood producer. When I look at these kinds of buildings, I have a sort of fictional ideal of the lifestyle of the people inside. The fantasy makes the structures exciting. Looking at Bruce Goff’s work while knowing they were built for respected journalists, I can’t help fantasising. There is a house in Malibu, where I assume the guy who lives inside has got a six-pack, a white cat and must be hiding something. He has guns hidden somewhere. There must be some kind of underground bunker down deep under the garage. They’re like cult houses for kind of some militia committed to a new dawn! I think that comes from novels. You can't help imagining the scene, then film and tv memories mix in. Even when I’m looking at someone’s abstract paintings in a gallery, I could only think of them as part of a stage-set for Man from UNCLE - a foyer with marble pillars and suited men walking past.

The first cut-outs I did had a very jet-set feel despite their modest materials and subjects. They were optimistic and utopian, embracing an idealist way of living, a high modernist one of high-density tower blocks shown at sunset, in silhouette, when all the graffiti and rubbish couldn’t be seen. They were beautiful and positive, in the twilight, at this point of transition. The streetlights coming on like a scene from Blade Runner, magical and confident, before the evil comes out of the cracks. Think Thamesmead in the film Beautiful Thing, all naive and innocent, caught in an endless summer. Moving back from doing my degree in Hull, London had that effect on me, it was exciting and beautiful seeing tower blocks and skylines. Now I see some estates at night and I’m absolutely petrified. You see gangs wandering around, it’s territory not space. I just want to get out of there.

What followed was movement to the greater outdoors, an exodus for purposes of recreation. It was very important, for example, that the caravans of We Are Majestic in the Wilderness (1999) were British looking. They look small and modest against the epic expanses of nature. With this work came a growing sophistication with the materials. It’s a daytime picture and daylight meant more detail. At times, layering slivers of paper depicting bark, foliage and rock strata can seem obsessive. It isn’t painting, but it has certainly moved closer to the language and techniques. I now sometimes dye and colour the paper before I apply it, sanding the surface, but these are like elements of a construction. I have started using wood veneers for the houses to make their constructed quality more overt, closer to what I imagine the real thing to be.

I am influenced by new elements introduced into my world. Like anyone, I am taken by certain new things and pursue them, music, books etc. It's important that the work doesn't end up being purely descriptive or instructional, pictures for architects to work from, or to show clients. They are visionary not actual. They are amalgams of different sources, inspired by books, films and magazines reinterpreted through memory then pasted together in a back bedroom in Brockley with a graveyard view. They can never be real or original. The viewpoints the buildings are seen from are always dramatic, perhaps cinematic in origin. Not real, or mundane. Even the trees are borrowed. They are quite ‘redneck’ in their individualist hand-built way, isolationist, perhaps anti-government. They are statemental buildings in the wilderness. Where they are geographically is not specific, it could be America, or the Alps, anywhere with mountains and space. People who have utopian ideals believe they have to be higher up, to be closer to the cosmos, which also means further away from everyone else.

I’ve wondered if I want to build these houses for real. I certainly fantasised about living in such a house, but I would probably end up occupying my time making sketches of urban existence, so I suspect to make the images is as far as I need to go at the moment. My architect friends point out that I only think of them from one external viewpoint, whereas they think from the interior out, where the window for the bathroom should be etc. I put windows in because they look good from the outside. I don’t really think of these buildings ‘in the round’. I don’t know what’s ‘round the back’. It might be fun to ask a friend to draw up blueprints based on my images, but understanding the structure may cause a shift in what I do. Structurally, I have doubts that these buildings could exist, so they are very much of my mind. They are very isolationist.

I find modernism’s style increasingly sterile and boring. There is an idea that everyone can make their own home, just build up their own world and identity, but it's like adding a bit of eye-liner really. The thing about being an artist is basically, you can make your own universe and get more and more away from other people around you. Living in suburbia allows a kind of isolationism. Eccentricity flourishes in suburbia. There is a couple round here that live in the 1930’s. They’ve created it down to the last detail and they even have a 1930’s car. There are two children who are allowed to dress normally, but God knows what the kids think when they see their Mum and Dad in the supermarket together. Imagine Parents Evening round at the local school! We think of suburbia as stifling, so perhaps this is their way to escape, to mentally jump, or at least assert themselves as different. Suburbia encourages this eccentricity. There is an expectation that something should be going on behind the net curtains. To a certain extent, I fulfil this image.

Tailsliding, The British Council, London 2001