Ackroyd, Norman (20 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 20: [Session nine: May 16 2001] [2:25:36] NA’s Victorian five shilling piece; his coin collection; Royal Mint approached NA for possible design for Olympics coin; Tom Phillips’ design for anniversary of Johnson’s Dictionary; NA’s stamp essays on subject of National Trust, 1997. [6:00] Visit to NA of poet, Robin Robertson. PA and Joe Acheson, Sony Awards. SA; fifteen canvases made ready for NA to paint multi-canvased work, link to Cambridge Galapagos work; Scottish landscape images NA is considering at present; mixing greys. NA’s use of colour in paintings; not using colour for etchings. Learning how to make own paint whilst a Leeds student; now mixes some of his etchings ink; range of paints NA now uses. Future work with fifteen canvases; watercolour a drawing medium; images in notebooks. SA, painting and also works for Cornelisson’s, knowledge of constituent parts of materials. [telephone] [17:55] NA’s recent visit to Diss; David Case, formerly ran Marlborough Graphics, now retired but still dealing in prints, asked NA to do show and demonstration, reasons for doing this. NA not wanting to have second home out of London; places in landscape where can stay comfortably, private homes and hotels. Demonstration in Diss. Collector of NA’s work who was thinking of building museum in Prague now has other plans. [23:40] NA as RCA student; JT ran etching room by late 1950s; Francis Bacon’s studio in RCA, his 1964 Tate retrospective, interviews with David Sylvester, drinking in Zetland pub, Kismet Club; Bacon paintings NA admires, influence of Bacon on NA. [29:11] NA climbing Odessa Steps when visiting Ukraine; seeing [Sergei Eistenstein’s] Battleship Potemkin as a Leeds student, sides of beef in film, this film and [Alfred Hitchcock’s] Psycho in black and white imply colour; establishment of Odessa Academy of Fine Arts, NA went to Odessa to represent President of RA; Odessa Steps. [35:00] NA’s silicon bronze mural of Wardour Castle commissioned by Foreign Office for British Embassy in Moscow. NA’s bronze work on exterior wall of his London home. Quality of bronze for NA’s work. Moscow commission came via architect; Richard Burton of Ahrends Burton and Koralek. Mentions Sandy Wilson [Colin St John Wilson], Stanton Williams, Ian Ritchie as architects who are serious collectors and artists themselves. [38:55] When NA became an RA, got to know Sandy Wilson at time when he was working on British Library, problems of this site; London water table. [41:53] Bacon and Carel Weight’s painting studios at RCA; RCA staff would invite artists to come in and work, examples, John Piper, Graham Sutherland; lure of Robin Darwin’s senior common room. Carel Weight, Head of Painting when NA a RCA student; Weight’s visits to NA’s studio in Clapham, his encouragement; Weight almost becoming RA President; Weight’s appearance and character. [46:06] Edward Ardizzone, taught NA life drawing, his appearance, plumb line. Bertrand Wolpe taught lettering; Albertus Titling, typeface. RCA three year course when NA a student, 7 or 8 students a year; use of etching studio; DH, fellow student; RCA’s studios within V&A building. NS hasn’t continued long-term friendships with fellow RCA students; Julie Christie. [52:55] Etching studio when NA an RCA student, NA’s work there and at home; painting on metal, attitudes to etching at this time. NA had seen Picasso’s Vollard Suite in BM Print Room and on sale in Museum Street. [NA refers to blackbird outside.] JT. NA refers to image from Vollard Suite on his wall. [59:50] Theatre designer, Jocelyn Herbert’s talk at RCA, 1961, her costumes for film of Tom Jones; NA got to know Herbert later at RA; JT. NA as theatre-goer; Albert Finney, John Osborne’s Luther; Brian Friel plays designed by NA’s friend, Kandis Cook, whom NA met on Isle of Skye, her partner, Chris Moyse, photographer; PA still close friend of Cook and Moyse’s daughter. [1:06:36] Academy cinema showing foreign films when NA an RCA student, man who made hand-printed posters came to RCA to demonstrate his woodcuts. Now artists sign and number reproductions, originally posters would be hand-done. Visitors would come to talk in etching room. Few lectures; some optional for whole college; Buckminster Fuller lecture, NA later saw geodesic dome in Jasper John’s studio. When NA first started teaching at Central approx. 1965, inaugural lecture by Barnes Wallis at time Concorde was being designed. RCA Kensington Gore building used for lectures; canteen was in Kensington Gore, woman who ran it would give NA left-overs from senior common room in evening when working late in etching studio. [1:12:58] Robin Darwin; Ardizzone, Wolpe; Darwin’s address to whole college, comment on Carel Weight. Mentions Roger de Grey, Donald Hamilton Fraser; NA assisting Carel Weight to make a lithograph; Weight’s visits to NA’s studio, seeing his paintings of urban scenes; Weight’s advice to put the paintings into RA Summer Exhibition. NA drawing in East India docklands when at RCA. NA bought painting back that showed in RA when an RCA student, square format, oil on linen; using reds. Reputation of RA when NA a student; painting department at RCA under Weight; Weight and Ruskin Spear became RAs [1:21:34] Hugh Casson’s role in rescuing RA; relationship RCA and RA. [interruption] NA first met Casson at Durham Wharf, home of Mary Fedden and JT; mentions other friends of Fedden and JT, including Jeremy Hutchinson; Roger de Grey President of RA when NA elected. Hugh Casson; introducing Casson to etching process; Casson making etchings in NA’s stuio and with JH; further details Casson. [1:29:00] Reputation of RA when NA a RCA student; RA membership under Presidencies of Casson, de Grey; social networks within RA, its potential. Current state of RA. Norman Rosenthal. Management structure of RA; General Assembly. [1:36:00] 2011 RA Modern British Sculpture exhibition. Younger audience for RA for Sensation and Anish Kapoor exhibitions. RA rules; mentions Grayson Perry elected to RA as an engraver. Administration of RA; purchase of Burlington Gardens; RA staff now all on site. Exhibition programmes, competition with other galleries; RA unable to afford to be without exhibitions; RA turnover; funding of exhibitions. Sponsor who is willing to underwrite an exhibition for NA in right venue. Rise of sponsorship for art exhibitions; RA, Hugh Casson; development department. [1:50:00] Changes in students attitudes to art market since NA an RCA student; fewer part-time teaching posts. [1:55:4] Margaret Casson, photo-etchings; Dinah Casson, Alan Moses, RA Professor of Law. Dinners with left wing group, Stephen Solley, QC, collector of NA’s work, Paul Foot, Alan Moses. Visitors who buy NA’s work direct from the studio; importance of regular collectors. [2:00:00] Details JT; selling RCA students work; JT organized NA’s first one man show, High Street, Eton. JT own work. JT’s wife, Mary Fedden; their home; JT’s illness; further details Durham Wharf; Mary Fedden. [2:14:40] JT as NA’s teacher. RCA staff: Edwin La Dell, lithography; Alistair Grant; groups of students visiting La Dell at weekends. NA’s work while at RA; collages, experimental time; AG, Cecil Collins as visiting tutors; friendship with AG, a mentor; JT. When NA teaching at Central, would get AG to come in to do master-class. AG’s reactions to NA’s RCA student work; AG mentioned NA in book he wrote about etching; JT used NA’s work in his book. NA’s work influenced by Pop Art, return to landscape and greater degree of abstraction. NA’s final show at RCA; American dealer, Sidney Michaelson, wanting NA to have exhibition. NA first to America, 1969.

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