De Francia, Peter (5 of 20). National Life Stories Collection: Artists' Lives.
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2000-02-24, 2000-03-23, 2000-05-15, 2000-07-20, 2000-08-11, 2000-09-28, 2000-10-04, 2001-02-14
Interviewee's home in London
De Francia, Peter, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)
Roberts, Melanie (speaker, female)
Peter de Francia [PdeF] continues talking about Permeke and the history of Flemish culture. He returns to his escaping through Belgium with his fellow students, where he talks of their being scattered throughout Britain. His sense of isolation was reinforced by his not understanding a word spoken by his fellow soldiers in the Durham Light Infantry. He was profoundly anti-fascist and although he never saw active service he says he was more than ready to act. Returning to discussing The Slade PdeF describes finding it very dead in the pre-Coldstream period. He discusses the relation of his tutors to the past and how ineffective they were in inspiring him. PdeF tells a Royal College story, saying how both institutions were stuck in their reputations and were unable to look beyond. He also mentions a lack of vitality in London as an education centre which he saw as too big to create a cohesive student population. PdeF talks briefly about The Slade today, mentioning his professional relationship with Bernard Cohen, the current Head of School. PdeF felt he was in charge of his own development, only mentioning Kurt Badt, a German writer on art, as acting as a type of mentor. He notes how hard the post-war grant aided students worked, mentioning his need for a sense of exhilaration which he felt was absent at this time. PdeF ends on a formal note, talking about his own work which at this time included conventional landscapes and the beginnings of figure compositions. He says he had no desire to explore abstraction.