Richmond, Susanna (8 of 10).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2009-07-28, 2009-07-29, 2009-07-30, 2009-07-31

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Rounton, North Yorkshire

  • Interviewees

    Richmond, Susanna, 1923- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Westley, Hester (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 8: [Session Three 30th July, 2009] [01:56:55] The origins of SR’s ambitions to paint; her early exposure to art; her early understanding of artistic progress. [02:35] SR’s visits to Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge; which artworks affected her in context of build up to world war; mention of works in family collection, including pieces by William Blake and Japanese artworks from Gertrude Bell. [4:35] Why SR relinquished drawing to pursue other interests; the issue of creative block; anecdote recounting the first time she was moved profoundly by an artwork. [07:15] SR’s occasional visits to Ruskin as undergraduate at Oxford; learning oil painting during SR’s time in Reading; subject matter of her early sketchbooks. [08:20] SR’s move to London to attend Central School of Art and Crafts [CSA]; ‘the teachers were what I call the ‘Chelsea type’ of artist’; mentions names and her response to them. Brief mention of return to Yorkshire. [10:50] SR’s introduction to Bomberg’s classes, ‘it was something completely new’; explains the significance of the classes in reference to drawings hanging on her wall; how her approach has changed in recent years; the challenges she has faced in her art practice; the impact it had on her role as mother. [14:00] Parental reaction to SR’s art practice; how SR subsisted financially and supported her family. [16:50] SR’s London lodgings while at CSA, character of neighbourhood, flat furnishings. [19:00] Circumstances of HWR’s death; EB’s move to London; nature of EB’s and SR’s grief; the arrangement of accommodation with VR; the headquarters of their spiritual group ‘Moral Re-Armament’; WR’s accommodation; brief explanation of BR’s and VR’s marital and living arrangements. [23:14] SR explains her emotional state at the time; her return to Yorkshire and the ‘Motor House’ on estate of Rounton Grange; PMR’s presence and their return to London. [24:50] SR describes her first encounter with PMR in London and her attraction to him; mention early visits to Rounton Grange. [26:40] SR describes her flat mates Cliff [Holden] [CH] and Dorothy [Mead] [DM] and the beginnings of the Borough Group with Edna Mann; story of David Bomberg’s [DB] employment at Borough Polytechnic; PMR’s introduction to DB’s classes. [30:50] How DB was discussed, ‘they talked about him in rather evangelical terms’; SR’s response to their artwork ‘they were painting what the thing really felt like’; SR’s appreciation of specific work by PMR; the resonance of certain biblical themes in painting and related anecdote about SR’s experience etching. [34:05] SR and PMR’s move back to London; comment upon nature of memory, ‘the vital bits in one’s life seemed to have taken longer than they actually did take’; chronology of events surrounding Borough Group; SR’s understanding of why Borough Group broke up; DB’s first and second marriage; DB’s comment to Lilian [Mendelson] [LM] ‘there’s not enough paint for two’; the trials of being married to DB, he was ‘very macho’; DB’s treatment of CH and attitude to CH and DB’s relationship; the conflict between DB’s family relations and the students. [43:15] Incident surrounding exhibition of ‘Four Painters’ in Stockholm. [45:05] SR and PMR’s return to London; recollections of DB’s life classes; DB’s pedagogic approach; PMR’s teaching methods; how their approach differed to SR’s experience of teaching at the Central School; ‘it was a totally different world’. [49:48] SR describes DB, his demeanour and manner ‘very human’. [53:40] SR and PMR’s decision to marry; SR’s reflections on their decision; occasion of their wedding; landscape of post-war London. [59:35] PMR’s desire to travel; impressions of journey to Aix-en-Provence; anecdote about lodgings and friendships. [01:05:35] Attitudes to Picasso; decision to move on to Spain to join CH and DM. [01:08:20] Arrival in Spain c. 1953; CH and DM’s accommodation; Franco’s armies ‘hunting for Reds’; trajectory of SR and PMR’s travels through Spain; impressions of Spanish culture. [01:12:02] Arrival of CH and DM; accommodation in former Sugar Factory; arrival of painters Dennis Creffield, Roy Oxlade and Garth Scott. [01:13:00] Respective reactions to arrival of letter from DB regarding the foundation of the Borough Bottega; SR’s response to ensuing arguments as ‘an outsider of their politics’. [01:17:25] Difficulties surrounding financial arrangements; departure of CH and DM. [01:20:50] DB’s arrival in Spain; SR’s pregnancy; DB’s disappointment at not being appointed at the Slade; LM and DB’s respective attitudes to Spain; DB’s decision to establish art school in Rhonda. [01:25:40] PMR and SR’s attitude to DB’s arrival; DB and LM’s accommodation and financial circumstances; DB’s financial difficulties; PMR and SR move to Rhonda in 1955. [01:29:15] Description of painting expeditions with DB; anecdote about their donkeys; extent of LM’s involvement. Evenings spent discussing painting; DB’s attitudes especially towards nineteenth century artists such as Alfred Stevens; his respect for craftsmanship. [01:33:35] Inherent contradictions of his advice to students; DB’s emphasis on structure and discipline; evenings spent with DB; lack of firewood; problems of catering; LM’s frequent absences; nature of their diet. [01:37:12] Anecdote about sharing Christmas with Bombergs; ‘food was pretty scarce’; reason behind DB’s teetotalism; LM’s attitude to PMR and SR’s presence; how LM spent her days; various visitors, including EB and DB’s daughter, Diana Bomberg. [01:41:14] Difficulties of life in Rhonda for DB; sister Kitty Bomberg’s financial support; LM’s temperament including attitude to money; PMR and SR’s support of DB during final illness. Chronology of events; arrival of letter from William ‘Bobby’ Roberts and DB’s response; SR’s perspective upon DB’s final writings; DB’s failing health; the visit to local doctor; PMR’s final train journey with DB to Gibraltar; DB’s suffering and incident at Passport control. [01:48:10] DB’s recovery in hospital; PMR and SR’s month spent in Gibraltar during DB’s recuperation; LM’s clearance of DB’s Rhonda home; DB’s unexpected death upon his return to England. [01:51:58] Description of DB’s funeral; LM’s work to raise DB’s profile after his death; significance of this period spent with DB.

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