Ackroyd, Norman (13 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 13: [1:19:03] Recent reading at Bodleian; Andrew McNellie, NA’s images in magazine, Archipelago. Greg Delanty, poem about printing, White Spirits. Seamus Heaney. [4:18] Binding of Landscape and Figures; Ted Robbins, RCA. NA’s next book evolved from small zinc and copper etching plates made on travels between 1978-81; would be invited to demonstrate etching in Britain and America, would include drawing in landscape as part of this, visited most of British art schools; threw out all but the best plates, published them as Travels with Copper and Zinc, 1981, edition of 20 due to fragility of plates; produced this at Central School of Art, difficult to sell but helped him learn to edit and focus. 1982 book, Itchen Water, text by Jeremy Hooker, letter press by Ron King, Winchester School of Art Press. NA’s Further Travels with Copper and Zinc. By late 1980s became annual publications; 2010 will be St Kilda Revisited. Penny Press; now publishes under own name. [9:43] Details Travels with Copper and Zinc; binding Ted Robbins, RCA; letterpress by Alan Smith. 1986 etchings for Christmas carols by friend, Selwyn D Image, who writes music, carols sung by Clare College choir, Cambridge; 1961 NA and Image met working on Christmas post in Leeds, their friendship. [15:51] Ted Robbins, bookbinder at RCA; lack of investment in The Lion and Unicorn Press; importance of listening to craftsmen. [19:56] Letterpress workshops in Britain closed down when computer typesetting came in, leaving only a handful operating, period when lead type was melted down; Ian Mortimer’s archive of typefaces, founders’ cast type; his press, Imprimit. NA bought type; Alan Smith began printing for NA in late 1970s; NA had been taught to set type as a student at Leeds; Smith had worked for Thomas Ross, then NA, then RCA; his background. Neil Woodall, former student of NA at Central, now prints approx 800-1000 etchings a year for NA. [25:11] Reason why NA continued to make books when hard to sell at first; way in which sales have escalated subsequently. Rainbow colours in endpapers in NA’s series of books. Details letterpress printing of NA’s books; Westminster Press, Walter Partridge, Newspaper House, Fetter Lane; 1964 Partridge came to NA’s diploma show and bought four etchings. Partridge became financial advisor to Editions Alecto. Partridge and computer typeface re Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Partridge’s home in Wiltshire, Perdix Press. Friendship with Partridge; his typesetting for NA; Partridge’s home in Cathedral Close, Salisbury, drawings NA made in nearby landscape, Old Serum; Fonthill Abbey, Wardour Castle. [39:55] Hope O’Neil’s typography for NA, beginning to print letterpress from block, hasn’t handset type for approx 10 years; NC now does typography for NA. PHS also did letterpress for NA. [references at this point are to Perdix Press books, NA recites poetry]. [42:40] NA began his open studios c 1977; NA had dealer in 1960s; NA made set of ten etchings following visit to America, dealer wanted only some of them; NA’s decision to be his own dealer, details how this evolved into his open studio weekends each winter; three quarters of visitors purchase work, importance re NA’s finances; over 3000 invitations, approx 1200 visitors 2009. Steady collectors of annual publications; Central St Martin’s has complete collection (and on website); RA has most of books from last 15 years; collector opening museum in Czechoslovakia has every book of NA’s, NA has complete collection as does Jason Bacon. [51:06] Saint Macdara’s Island, 16 July Saint’s Day. [52:40] Stephen Stuart-Smith, Enitharmon Press, NA and Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Moored Man; Marco Livingstone. [54:23] NA’s advice to Editions Alecto re etching press; Joe Studholme, Michael Spens (collector of NA’s work when NA a student); Spens, an architect in Edinburgh, bought Studio International, for which NA wrote; Spens’ castle with ceiling and shutters by Eduardo Paolozzi; parties Eaton Terrace. NA’s advice to Joe Studholm re reprinting Joseph Banks’ Florilegium; Edgerton Williams; William Daniell’s A Voyage Round Great Britain. Joe Studholme. Charlie Newington, taught by NA at Central, work for Patrick Procktor and for Editions Alecto. Chris Prater [Kelpra Studios]. No NA etchings by Alecto or Kelpra, NA always printed his own work. NA would sell parts of editions to American publishers; until 1980s half NA’s income from sales came in dollars, gradually became better known in Britain. Promotion by dealers in Washington, Philadelphia, and Chicago; shows in California. Relatively few NA images are urban, more so in early days; few interior images, Study of Sunlight, County Galway. [1:08:27] NA whilst at Cockburn High School; five O levels; pressure to leave before sixth form; interview with headmaster, A levels; art master; art, maths and geography, interest in landscape he was cycling through; qualifications to get into art school, gave up maths; gained scholarship. Plans for Christmas 2009.

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