English, Rose (6 of 13).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2005-12-08, 2006-02-03, 2006-04-11, 2006-05-08, 2006-06-05,

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home/studio, London

  • Interviewees

    English, Rose, 1950- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Dyke, Anna, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 6: [44:11] Mary Sergeant’s [MS] performance; RE was painted gold; naked except for ceramic nipple covers, roller skates and ostrich plume. MS made costumes and sang; refers to Meredith Monk. RE had to skate round gallery and outdoors around building. Also in performance by friend Charlie Symonds; crossing zebra crossing pulling cut-out zebra. RE’s own performance ‘Divertissement’; performed by three dancers; describes erotic clothes/objects; C18th chamber scene; Satie piano music; curtain with point ballet shoes hanging like a chorus; flowers, mirror, feather mattress; porcelain curtain hung like veil. Describes the performance; refers to Boucher’s ‘Miss O’Murphy’. Accompanied degree show; objects and photographs. The performers were students; RE’s role. Learning about directing via making photographs; describes this process; used JB, LH, RE’s sisters. Sisters’ involvement. Publicising shows; didn’t have to work to get audience. How RE felt while naked roller-skating; comfortable with own body and asking performers to be naked. ‘Divertissement’; erotic, sensual, quasi-Baroque; interest in Fragonard, Boucher, cherubs, Botticelli, language of allegory. In retrospect, making ‘subversive, allegorical, Sapphic extravaganzas’. Positive audience reaction; graffiti. Responds to question about whether being female had a bearing on the piece; regarded it as a celebration of sexuality; talking to tutor re-taking the work further re-Playgirl magazine. Other students were making erotic work; getting a way with it. Intended audience reaction. Describes objects; from clay, eg. point shoe, or veils made by dipping fabric in liquid slip; jewellery, eg. suckling piglets necklace. Loved making the objects; interest in body adornment and the exquisite. Showing the objects; eg. sold jewellery to gallery in Washington. Could make work to sell, but became more interested in how objects were mediated in the live moment - than the status of art object as commodity. Attitude to documenting the performance; the photographs which led up to it. Continued making objects after Leeds; but also conscious of ‘making’ the performance. [28:45] Conversations re-making the performance with SW; friend Maggie Hendrickse did lighting; made curtain from blue satin cloth; got free point shoes from the Royal Ballet. Took place on Ceramics course at Royal College of Art [RCA]. RCA compared to Leeds; no boundaries at Leeds between disciplines, eg. George Szirtes, painting student and poet; students working in sound and film, shows; RCA depts were separated. By then, interested in performance; attended workshops, classes. Leeds tutors suggested RE speak to RCA student Carol McNichol. Reasons for leaving RCA; used metal work equipment afterward; enjoyed meeting international students. Speaking to Hans Coper re-what direction to go in. [38:01] RE and JB lodging in friend Tessa Wolfe Murray’s [TWM] house in Battersea. Job as seamstress for vintage clothes shop; daily routine; classes in dance, theatre skills at Oval House; JB doing acrobatics. Meeting people who were forming alternative theatre companies, doing shows. Refers to earlier moment when leaving Bristol, RE, AB and friend Oliver Bennett attended workshop by Emile Wolk, member of ‘The People Show’. RE’s interest in learning a physical language. At student drama festival, watching Pip Simmons theatre company ‘O Superman’ show; interest in starting alternative theatre company. [Pause for RE’s mobile phone] Post RCA, going to shows, meeting people from theatre courses; eg. La MaMa. Being asked to perform; also thinking of making own performance. Met David Gale [DG] at an Oval House workshop. [44:11]

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