Ackroyd, Norman (16 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 16: [Session seven: February 8 2010] [1:32:17] NA has been up since 6 am, preparing for printing session with JH, editioning images of Anglesey; details etchings, drawing on the plates; paper used to give extra support as image goes through press; Somerset 300 gm off-white paper, will also print extra images on eighteenth century paper for friend; NA has stock of paper going back to sixteenth century. NC preparing paper for NA’s images; qualities of Korean paper; large etchings, Connemara image. Derek Boshier made six etchings at RA over summer; similar arrangement to NA’s with RCA when goes to make lithograph, institution keeps some of the edition; NA a student at RCA with Boshier, also taught together at Central. Kitchen Sink paintings. NA’s northern, urban landscapes as student. [17:03] Salthouse, gravel beach, Norfolk; NA has pebbles in bowl under water on table, colours; rock from west coast of Connemara; matching pebble colours in watercolour. Only artificial light in NA’s workshop. NA’s eyesight, looking at proofs without glasses. Anglesey harbour image, will change ink. [22:28] Progress re Galapagos mural; NA has completed 32 out of 40 images; later in week will do first transfers and test etchings to full size; sense of the whole; reason for using zinc plates for maquettes (close to steel of final piece); edition from maquettes. NA has never taken prints from any of steel murals he has done, unique plates etched deeper than smaller pieces. [30:34] Skills NA has acquired in 50 years of practice. Image of Oranmore Castle, Galway Bay, NA stays in castle, owned by former student, Leonie King(?); his work from there, quality of the landscape; etching studio. [35:38] Jacob Kramer; Frederick Delius; community of senior artists who drank in same Leeds pub when NA a student. Adult ridicule of Henry Moore when NA a schoolboy. [39:11] Moore’s reclining figure on outskirts of Leeds; NA going to draw it when a schoolboy and beginning to understand it. [42:50] Early days at Leeds Art School; typography; how to make a book; how to hand letter; either linocutting, lithography or etching. Learning to set type by hand, taught by people working in industry; Alf Cooke, Lund Humphries, Waddington’s, local printers among best in Britain; description art school typography room; each student had to make a book; reasons why typography stopped being taught as routine part of an art course; was being taught as potential trade for students. Fellow student who took holiday job as station master, remained there for career. Going to art school not necessarily to become an artist. Attitude of other students to typography course. Fellow students at Leeds. Emphasis on drawing at Leeds; life room going five days a week until 9.30 at night. Other craft skills taught at Leeds. NA’s student Dylan Thomas book; NA not a good illustrator; difference between illustration and art. NA still uses skills re making books, e.g. pagination, press capacity. Chapbooks; Thomas Paine Rights of Man; NA’s chapbook, article by Anthony Griffiths, ‘What is a Print?’ Book art; word and image; book art as formal subject at art schools; NA took Central students to Wantage with etching plates, made collective book. Susan Johankanecht. [59:16] No drawing from casts at Leeds, drawing from model. Life room at Leeds; Harry Thubron’s philosophy that it was impossible to draw too much; description life room; materials, drew with charcoal and graphite sticks. NA and life drawing. de Kooning’s figure paintings, first seen in reproduction, later originals in New York. Teaching re life drawing. Comparison NA’s drawings to Henry Moore’s re three dimensions. Still life lessons. [1:08:00] First etching classes, 1957. Influence of Robert Austin and Sir Frank Short who had run RCA etching classes for decades; NA’s show with Short; being sent Short’s cigarette tin by descendant. NA not wishing to work like Short and Austin but needing to learn the grammar of etching first. Late 1950s transition period in terms of wider society, art and literature, NA’s awareness of this; Pasmore, Richard Hoggart; musicians visiting Leeds e.g. Chris Barber, jazz bands music in pubs. Transpennine train like moving art school; Jeff Nuttall. Mix of ages and types of people in the two main pubs where NA heard music, Interaction university and art school students. [1:22:52] Description etching studio at Leeds; time warp; anecdote about spilling acid on self on Feb 6 1958, day of Munich Air Crash, Manchester United football team victims. Dangers of etching process ingredients; tutors would walk round smoking when teaching. [1:29:17] NA’s first etchings on steel plates, was soon given zinc and realized didn’t want to use steel; qualities of steel and zinc re NA’s wish to get whites; not possible to get so many prints from zinc (which NA using for current Galapagos prints). NA student image, Storm over Gildersome now in BM. [lunch break]

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