Ernst, I was told you’re self-taught. Is that true?
Ernst: That’s right. I attended a holiday class once, but for me it just doesn’t make sense to sit down and draw a jug placed in front of you. I’ve been painting for more than 50 years now, and, to be honest, I’m a little proud of that. I never painted because I wanted to make money from it. I paint because I enjoy it. I didn’t have teachers. I was the one deciding what to do and how to go about it.
Is Ernst stubborn? How would you describe him, Deborah?
Deborah: Not stubborn, no, but pretty ambitious, I would say. Family is very important to “Tata” and he is a very social guy – somebody you can always rely on. If I rang him today to tell him that I’m a little under the weather, he would be the first to come over and help me out. He’s always there to support me, and I really appreciate everything he does for me.
Ernst: Our health and our family are our greatest assets, and you have to support your family. Family is more important than money could ever be.
And how would you in turn describe Deborah?
Ernst: All I need to do is look in the mirror, and I’ll see “Poppa” staring right back at me. (They both laugh.)
Deborah: Gosh, I’m so handsome! (laughs even louder)
So you two have a lot in common? Is that what you’re trying
Ernst: Yes, we’re both full of energy and ambition.
You’re a passionate alpinist. I’m sure energy and ambition are two character traits that come in handy when climbing a mountain, right?
Ernst: They sure do. When you want to climb a summit, you have to get body, mind and soul in harmony. And life is just the same; it’s full of ups and downs. Only later will you realise that you had to fall before you could rise up to the next challenge. But you must never lose heart. If we did, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Yet, in arts, you will never really reach the summit. You don’t have a final destination. Your work is undergoing constant change and evolution. Your work is what you leave behind for future generations.