Ackroyd, Norman (22 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 22: [Session eleven: March 12 2012] [2:45:04] NA tells two jokes. During recording session NA drawing on acetate during the current recording session; is working from sketchbook drawing NA did from boat from Cape Wrath, most north-westerly point of British Isles mainland; NA hasn’t worked out a drawing in this way before; using black gouache, Victorian pen, washing-up liquid. [NA whistles] [NLS has photos of sketchbook and acetate equipment] Further details drawing NA is making as he speaks. Comments about using gouache for other stages of processes relating to etching. Refers to image of trees on which NA is working, using two plates; Cartmell Fell. Images NA is making for 2012 RA Summer Exhibition; St Kilda. [8:04] NA’s 2011 visit to Scottish islands with PA and Joe Acheson, Ian Ritchie and his wife, Christopher Frayling, Helen Frayling, friend, Leonie [King?]; Soula, North Rona; Flannan Isles lighthouse and chapel; St Kilda; NA’s drawings from this trip. [13:36] PA’s piano piece, The Glass Sea, performed in Yorkshire when NA showed his etchings from the trip. Creativity of others on trip to Scotland, photographs from Ian Ritchie’s wife. Term ‘glass sea’; sunfish, gannets. NA working with two watercolour books; PA. Joe recording on the sea. [19:20] PA and Joe’s band, tours; having to cancel playing in Greece due to unrest due to Euro crisis. PA’s piano CD. NA’s images used by PA’s band. [22:04]Mentions SA and NA’s joint exhibition in East Anglia approx. two years ago. NA’s recent exhibition in Thirsk, Yorkshire, private view, PA’s concert the following morning, including performance of The Glass Sea; CD will be made with NA image on cover. Zillah Bell Gallery run by John Bell, with whom NA has been showing for approx. 15 years; details Bell family, John Bell a farmer, a collector of NA work. Yorkshire architects, including Carr of York, who made fireplace in RA. Work NA has made while staying in Bell’s Queen Anne house; Thirsk Hall in snow. [26:33] NA’s 2011 boxed set of etchings, Beyond Cape Wrath; describes boat trips when drawings were done; gimbal stove. Most recent visit to St Kilda. NA’s ability to memorise what he has seen. [32:00] Mystery of the Flannan Isles, missing lighthouse men. St Kilda. [35:20] SA. Canvases SA has made for NA. SA demonstrating Windsor & Newton materials. SA and NA. PA. Composite work on several canvases NA may do; his drawing book. NA’s steel mural projects made up of multiple elements. Church window proposal for Cambridge didn’t go forward. Hasn’t yet progressed idea for freestanding piece for field. [40:59] Images likely to be part of 2012 publication of set of etchings; NA due to go to Shetland Islands, Isle of Foula. [43:51] NA’s sales, winter 2011. NA’s website. [45:42] Since last recording session NA has been to Florence to see Goya and Rembrandt works in Uffizi Gallery; Goya in Prado; Goya self-portrait. [4&:40] Christmas 2011 with family. [48:13] Lucian Freud’s work compared to Francis Bacon. NA’s friendships with John Hoyland and Patrick Caulfield; mentions Hoyland’s friendship with Ian Ritchie; mentions Ritchie’s Burns Night Dinner. Hoyland’s work; NA and Caulfield, Anna Ford judges of Wollaston Prize year Hoyland won prize. Caulfield’s paintings. Silkscreen prints by Hoyland, Caulfield. Contributions to portfolio to raise bursaries for RAS students. Hoyland and RA. Caulfield. [52:54] New President of RA, Christopher le Brun. Ian Ritchie as candidate for RA Presidency. [55:04] DH exhibition currently at RA; NA’s visit to DH in Yorkshire, 2011. Need for rest after intense working; DH, NA. Visit to DH. DH’s comments on Lucian Freud’s method of working. DH’s response to landscape compared to NA. Materials NA buys in case of use, analogy with kitchen; mentions Atlantis, art supplier; first being able to buy supplies in bulk aged approx. 40-45. Mentions process of buying copper. [1:03:13] Recent television programme about Lucian Freud [NA blows nose]; Freud’s portrait of DH. [1:04:38] Leonard Rosoman, Pembroke Studios, DH. Mary Fedden, Carel Weight. [1:06:25] Pallant House Gallery, Edward Burra exhibition [coughs] Colin St John Wilson’s collection; Michael Andrews’ painting, Estuary, at Pallant House. NA mentions rarely putting figures in his own landscapes. [1:09:20] NA working road surfacing while a RCA student; John Horley. Working on roads when at a student at Leeds School of Art; laying pipes; John Horley. Other money-earning jobs while a RCA student. [1:15:50] Empty food containers NA is using for materials while he drawing during current recording session; brand of gouache he is using. [1:17:20] Sidney Michaelson, American gallery owner who came to NA’s degree show and took all the work for his gallery; importance of continuing orders from Michaelson; American market. Michaelson’s commissions from NA; Washington Monument; Michaelson’s holiday home in Californian mountains; Christmas card images. Importance of Michaelson for NA in early career. [1:21:10] NA’s first exhibition, Windsor, organized by JT and Mary Fedden. Five years after leaving RCA, NA to America, interest there in his work compared to Britain. [1:22:49] [NA coughing] Sylvia Buckland not continuing to paint. NA’s children born 1964, 1966, 1981, 1983; NA’s role in their babyhood. Daughter, Justine, would go with NA to Central School etching studio, her etchings. c 1980, NA made Justine books of her etchings; mentions Alan Smith, formerly NA’s assistant, now runs etching department at RCA [NA calls out to assistant, NC, to bring the book] Wearing goggles when working with acid with Justine; lunch together. Ileen and Malcolm, characters in Justine’s etchings. Describes the book of Justine’s etchings. [refers to Maria, cleaning lady] [1:31:37] Education of Justine and Felicity; both became bus drivers. Work on NA’s wall by granddaughter. Mentions NA’s four children will take him to dinner on forthcoming birthday; continues talking about Justine’s childhood etchings. Felicity’s education, grammar school changed into comprehensive; Shirley Williams’ MP. [1:38:08] NA’s four grandchildren. 1974 to Orkneys when Felicity and Justine children; space in house NA used for drying print. Studio in Battersea shared with John Bellany, 1971 for ten years, when NA teaching at Winchester and Central; had small etching press in Battersea studio; NA painted and drew in studio; printed Landscapes & Figures. Exhibition at Royal College, A, B, C; NA, Bellany, Pamela Clarkson; NA’s paintings. NA’s etchings of Millbank Tower in Tate Collection; large paintings, panels in grey and black wax which were sold to Glasgow hotel; mural which NA did for Glasgow hotel, forty-eight plates, 1975. [1:46:18] NA working with encaustic; influence Jasper Johns’ surfaces; structure of Millbank Tower. On NA’s seventieth birthday Tate Britain put up some of his work, letter from Nicholas Serota. Mentions recent invitation from Tate Britain. [1:48:20] 2012 NA is working with wax currently, process. Refers to painting c 1975 of South Leeds presently in studio; Norman Rostenthal’s reaction to this painting. [1:51:45] Work done in studio in Battersea, some sold, some destroyed; Bellany and NA had open weekend in December; sold through RCA exhibition and RA Summer Exhibition. A, B, C exhibition at RCA; Pamela Clarkson; Bill Crozier [William Crozier]. Star wheel press NA had in Battersea studio; book, Landscapes & Figures, published by Ronald King, Circle Press John Bellany and Battersea studio; mentions Sandy Moffat [Alexander Moffat], Alan Bold; Bellany’s period living in studio. Bellany’s new marriage, move to wife’s house. [2:00:22] NA’s subsequent studio in railway waiting room, Queenstown Road Station; work done there including first big steel mural; first marriage had ended, NA lived in Clapham Manor Street with etching studio in basement. Details Haringey Council commission for mural of West Indian Cultural Centre, Crouch End, etching of river Windrush; details studio. Kept station studio for a while after getting current home and workspace in Morocco Street. Refers to painting on wall of Little Skelig Rock which painted in station studio; use of thin wax at this time; Little Skelig painting went to exhibition in Philadelphia, NA went with PHS who advised him not to sell the painting which NA now won’t part with despite having buyer. [2:06:08] Haringey commission; Richard Napper. [2:07:00] NA’s first visit to Charleston after death of Duncan Grant; NA’s friend, painter, Cyril Reason, had girlfriend, Vicky, conservator who was working at Charleston; Reason had put etching press in Vanessa Bell’s studio, NA used Duncan Grant’s studio, details. [2:12:08] NA was asked by architects of Lloyds Bank to do steel panel for entrance hall of new Lloyds building; made edition of prints from maquette; Sir Jeremy Morse expanded the commission, completed 1990, image is walled garden at Charleston. Further details NA working at Charleston. Mentions Lawrence Gowing, Clive Bell, Dennis Creffield, Angelica [Bell?]. Cyril Reason. [2:18:10] Brief comment DH’s RA exhibition. NA’s interest in light on foliage; work at Charleston; etching more about white paper than black marks so can draw light directly. NA’s mural for Lloyd’s Bank building, Park Street. [2:22:25] Haringey commission [coughing]; love of reflective quality of inked up plates. Cyril Reason and Vicky at Charleston telling NA about unannounced visit of Queen and Michael Heseltine. Haringey commission, steel plates; earlier Glasgow commission, etched zinc plates, portfolio of prints; inventing process for Haringey Windrush mural, working with industrial etchers, Syncronol, owned by Mr McCallion, whose relative, Brian McCallion, became head of etching at Belfast art school. Continues to work with Syncronol. Further details Haringey commission (1986); met Bernie Grant. [2:32:50] NA’s Lloyds Bank commission, complexity of curved wall; etching ink mixed with resin. [coughs] Advice from Shell re Haringey commission being outside in elements. [2:36:48] Recent commission in Cambridge is external. ]2:37:10] NA’s commission for Lazards Bank. Effect of hot weather on steel plates and ink. Response to NA’s recent Cambridge Sainsbury commission; artists’ party; publication by Black Dog with DVD on which NA appears; mentions Bill Pye [William Pye], Susanna Heron. Difference in NA’s practice from first Glasgow large scale commission and recent Cambridge commission; use of computer; Syncronol; changes seen in boxed sets of etchings produced each year. [lunch break]

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