Girling, Sheila (7 of 13).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2009-08-10, 2009-08-09

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's studio, London

  • Interviewees

    Girling, Sheila, 1924-2015 (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Westley, Hester (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: [01:28:32] SG’s response to RA Schools; compulsory drawing year; SG’s premature departure due to pregnancy; calculation of chronology. [0:02:58] Accommodation arrangements; daily routines; best friend at RA, Joy Walker; nightlife and dances; mentions other friends at RA, including artist Bryan Kneale, Julia Rushbury, daughter of artist and head of RA Schools, Henry Rushbury, Peter Lowe and Neville Mann. [0:08:36] Financial arrangements; generosity of parents; London allowance; making ends meet; system of grants at RA. [0:10:34] SG’s family’s financial position and attitude to material goods; parental ambitions for SG. [0:13:06] SG’s daily routine in London while at RA Schools; the life drawing studio; SG’s first encounter with AC;. [0:15:25] Anecdote about life drawing tutors, Dring and Genge, revealing attitudes towards abstraction; peer group; SG’s admiration for paintings by fellow student, painter Peter Lowe. [0:19:46] Describes nature of drawing practice, Quentin Crisp as life model; nature of different life models, male and female. [0:22:55] SG’s exposure to contemporary exhibitions; reason for SG’s admiration for painter Prunella Clough; SG’s painting awards. [0:25:08] Students who pursued their studies; gender ratio at RA; SG’s summer holidays; SG’s commitment to her art practice; her sense of identity as ‘artist’. [0:29:19] SG’s childhood enduring friendships and leisure time in holidays. Return to RA for second year of study; painting studios. [0:32:40] How the painting studio was organised; painting from life; extent of tuition; recollection of a particular model and painting; description of SG’s award winning painting of AG in evening gown. [0:36:10] Description of process of portrait painting. SG’s love of medium of oil paint; advantages of acrylic paint. SG’s confidence and approach to painting; the stylistic significance of her work, ‘Return of Ulysses’; SG’s paintings hung in RA. [0:41:41] Lack of tuition at RA; impact of SG’s exposure to particular artists and artworks; significance of Paris as artistic centre and SG’s preference for developments taking place in London. [0:45:58] Anecdote about SG’s first encounter with AC in drawing studios; preferred haunts for lunch; SG’s first impressions of AC; why SG was attracted to AC; AC’s accommodation on the Fulham Road; AC and SG’s engagement; issue of AC’s Jewish background; AC’s first visit to SG’s family home; SG’s parental response; wedding preparations. [0:53:45] Decision for location of wedding; SG’s first encounter with AC’s family; SG’s impressions of AC’s parents; the question of familial religious affiliations; choice of church for wedding ceremony; AC’s earlier conversion to Christianity; SG’s wedding dress; the wedding reception at Brown’s Hotel and honeymoon in Italy. SG’s experience of Italy; the inspiration for SG’s painting ‘The Return of Ulysses’. [1:00:40] SG’s impressions of Italy; the return to London and SG’s pregnancy with son, Tim Caro [TC]. AC’s former experiences of travel abroad. [01:02:33] Description of first marital home; reason for move. [1:04:00] Setting up home; wifely duties and learning how to cope with domestic chores; the impact of marriage and motherhood. [1:06:30] SG’s response to pregnancy; the support of BH and AG; extent of education surrounding childbirth and mothering. SG’s childbirth experience with TC; the medical complications and consequences for SG. [1:11:47] Lack of postnatal support; family move to Much Hadham. [1:13:00] AC’s job with Henry Moore [HM]; the idyllic domestic life in country.[1:14:27] SG’s attitude to leaving RA Schools; the value of AC’s time with HM; HM’s generosity.[1:15:20] Daily routines; family neighbours and friendships; proximity of artist Reg Lloyd. SG’s response to dispersal of girl friends and departure from London; SG’s affection for family time in Much Hadham; SG’s delight in motherhood. [1:17:49] Description of family cottage; AC’s cat, Shuska; cottage furnishings; arrangements for live-in nurse during SG’s recuperation; how the family subsisted financially. Death of AC’s father; impact of AC’s family; financial arrangements and SG’s attitude to lifestyle. [1:21:49] Nature of SG and AC’s conversations about art; formative influences on AC’s creative development; significance of their marital dialogue. Reasons behind decision to leave Much Hadham. [1:23:57] Description of London home and appeal of property; significance of courtyard space and location. Architects Peter and Alison Smithson’s conversion of property and their ongoing additions to the home. [1:26:29] AC’s decision to hire the Smithson’s; the Smithson’s avant-garde reputation and friendship with artist Eduardo Paolozzi [EP]; EP’s proximity and connection with Dorothy Morland [DM]. AC’s intuitive involvement with progressive developments. Price paid for property and SG and AC’s attachment to the house.

  • Related transcripts

    Sheila Girling interviewed by Hester Westley: full transcript of the interview

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