His private interests are music and animal welfare. He writes often on opera, on the plight of endangered bears, tigers and apes, and on the exploitation of farm animals. He raises funds for the rescue and rehoming of abandoned and ill-treated domestic pets in one of the most deprived areas of London and keeps three rescued bitches. At a time when figurative painting has long been out of fashion in British art schools and among the curators of the nation's galleries of modern art, Richard Harrison has been one of the very few younger contemporary artists to hold to this ancestral tradition. His early work was essentially abstract, and abstract values have formed the armature of all of his later work, but in subject he has moved from an interest in the texture and manipulable qualities of the simple materials of a painting to biblical and mythical narratives that were common among European painters from the High Renaissance to the High Olympus of Victorian art. As a student at Chelsea School of Art, Harrison was noticed in 1987 by the critic Brian Sewell, then searching for young painters for an exhibition; they have remained in contact ever since.This affectionate but dispassionate and critical book, part analysis and part account of an often alarming life, represents a comprehensive record of Harrison's intellectual and aesthetic development.