Ackroyd, Norman (9 of 24).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2009-05-25, 2009-06-15, 2009-08-10, 2009-09-14, 2009-12-14, 2010-01-11, 2010-02-08, 2011-05-09, 2011-05-16, 2011-05-06

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's studio, London

  • Interviewees

    Ackroyd, Norman, 1938- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 9: [Session four: 14 September 2009 [1:47:11] NA cancelled previously mentioned visit from Barclays as too busy. RA’s Development Department re corporate sponsors and Friends. NA describes section of copper from Nelson’s Victory; has been filming in Anglesey, drew direct onto the copper plates described in previous recording; will have to reset press to print. Early sea chart plates, engraved eighteenth and nineteenth century plates, etched, engraved and printed by hand which NA saw at Ordinance Survey workshop, Taunton in mid-1970s, printing presses and library of plates; transition to off-set lithography; Taunton presses were being sold; NA’s action saved presses from being exported; one press to Wolverhampton Art School, one to South Wales; Taunton workshop; Maurice Payne, who made David Hockney’s etchings bought one of the Taunton presses, press is now in New York, used for Jasper Johns’ etchings; Hockney shipped the press to California. Victorian etching presses originally made for industry; later presses made differently; cast iron presses; Guttenburg printed on converted wooden cider press; technology liberated presses to produce in industrial quantity; etching now rarified occupation due to half-tone letter press lithography, photo-lithography and subsequent digital technology. Before photography people took an artist with them on Grand Tour, artists on return gave drawings to engraver who would print them to be bound with person’s journal. Mezzotints, the ‘method Anglais’; Reynolds; Turner; Gainsbrough; Constable; RA created Associate RAs for engravers. [20:44] Industrial copperplate printers operating presses; as new processes took over became fewer, now only Thomas Ross left, still prints from collection of old plates; NA’s visits to Ross when had Putney premises; Beryl Pomeroy. Welsch, former large printing company, Whistler, Brangwen; NA’s press c 1900 commissioned by Welsch’s for Brangwen’s plates. History of NA’s press, acquired c1975; Frank Welsch visited NA’s studio, had used press before First World War; Welsch wanted NA to have his press on his death, NA cleared Welsch’s studio; NA gave Welsch’s press to JH. [26:10] NA needs two presses; his second press (made c 1880 by firm, John Haddon) once belonged to Paul Drury, qualities of this press which NA has had since c 1980s. NA’s press had formerly belonged to Merlyn Evans [ME] with whom NA taught at Central; details ME, mezzotinter, died c 1972 intestate; Maurice Kestelman; NA took bank loan to afford Evans’ press, bought 1975. Characteristics of NA’s presses; support built beneath floor; anecdote; press NA gave to JH; Rembrandt’s press. Press at RCA made to print broadsheets for Great Exhibition, NA used it as a student and more recently; picture of press on front of Julian Trevelyan’s [JT] book on etching [45:19] Quality of custom-built studios in Victoria and Albert Museum [V&A] used by RCA in 1960s; government have put wrong people in charge of the arts. Jocelyn Stevens. Role of master printers’ gantry. NA signing 2009 prints, published December 10, set of ten etchings, Random Journeys; printed in Sheffield by Neil Woodall. JH and NC]print in NA’s London studio. NA has big collector in Prague, Jim Buchanan, opening museum in central Europe with two rooms devoted to NA, will visit NA in October. Meryon, Victorian engraver. [51:47] Visit to Frank Welsch; Welsch’s visit to NA’s Clapham house; preparation of floor for presses. Etching market in days before reproduction; Welsch made etchings under three different names; etching market died in 1920s, never recovered. History NA’s Welsch’s press; ME bought it soon after Second World War, used it for rest of his life, died 1972; NA has had it for 34 years in continuous use since 1975. Maintenance of presses; Leon Rochat; Hughes and Kimber, Hunter Penrose. Upkeep presses in art schools. Rochat presses still made today. NA wants his presses to go to people who will love them after his lifetime. Upkeep of NA’s presses; JH; Neil Woodall; NC; NA prints when making plates, proofing, assistants do editioning. NA was taught by AG, ME, how to set press and maintain it. Presses are living things. RAF Museum Conningsby, Lincolnshire, handmade spitfire engine as sculpture. NA’s relationship with his etching presses like a pianist; term ‘make-ready’. [1:06:21] NA and patience. NA turning down large commission because project has been initiated with too tight a deadline; insulting attitude that art is an add-on to architecture. [phone rings] NA restricts people who use his presses; JH. NA prints artist’s proofs, always works on etchings alone; makes notes. ‘B A T (bon a tirer)’ – perfect print – sets standard for edition. Pace of best printers. Variations that may affect quality of prints; quality of paper. [1:13:32] Link NA feels to etching history. [phone]. Michael Davis, partner of sculptor, Andrew Logan; Bermondsey Street Association, forthcoming Bermondsey Festival; SA; NA is having open house on Saturday, also showing five etchings in Festival, will lend a framed lithograph by Zandra Rhodes. Mark Boyle’s sign by telephone ‘You Can Say No’ re turning down work. [phone] Andrew Dalton, Master of Grocers’ Company is collector of NA’s work, forthcoming literary dinner, Douglas Dunn [DD] a guest; NC will put up small exhibition of NA’s work. [1:19:27] NA was a Governor of City & Guilds art school, is now an Advisor; NA’s influence on City & Guilds, its strengths; NA oversees etching studio; NC. Further details NA feeling part of history of etching going back to sixteenth century; etchers and RA; Allen Jones, Tom Phillips, Chris Orr, Eileen Cooper. Frank Welsch. Decade before First World War; book, Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey. [phone] Frank Welsch being reunited with NA’s press after 60 years; photos of Welsch’s London premises compared to Lecourier in Paris. Georges Bracque. NA will give Nicholas Grimshaw small piece of copper from Victory for his 70th birthday, NA has been sailing with him. Met Beryl Pomoroy when got plates steel-faced at Ross. [1:34:54] Has drawn on Anglesey copper with sugar lift, next stage on October 25th. Most recent visit to Anglesey to film; drew plates and made watercolours; images; film, Ceri Levy. [1:43:00] Update on progress on 2009 box being made for etchings edition; Smith Settle, Yorkshire bookbinders. Update of Cambridge projects, will have eight final sized plates to work on in approx 10 days time; has approx images he is ready to work up; needs forty in total; details size of maquette and actual plates. [lunchbreak]

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