Girling, Sheila (8 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 8: [00:38:27] Decision to move back to London and choice of north London; importance of AC’s apprenticeship with HM; AC’s introduction to new sculptural influences: bronze casting, the inclusion of found objects, the contemporary sculptural scene and sculptors associated with the ‘Geometry of Fear’; AC’s figurative works and HM’s encouragement. Family trips to AC’s mother’s house; her enjoyment in role as grandma; AC’s presence as father; TC’s play time in AC’s studio. [0:05:35] AC’s working habits in London and studio arrangement; AC’s position at St Martin’s School of Art. Description of Frank Martin; his stature because of age and experience; his ability to organise the Sculpture Department. [0:08:11] Describes artistic community in Hampstead and introduction to ICA; nature of ICA and appeal of DM. [0:10:19] Friendship with EP; changing nature of friendships as AC became more successful; issue of rivalry in art world. [0:11:33] Pregnancy and birth of Paul Caro; SG’s treatment with top gynaecologist. TC’s education and choice of schools. [0:15:28] SG’s involvement and contribution to AC’s early painted sculptures; SG’s feelings about importance of mothering; how SG channelled her creative energies through AC; SG’s ideas and how they fuelled AC’s early abstraction; the reciprocal nature of their relationship; the difficulties women face today balancing motherhood and careers. [0:18:52] First transatlantic trip; AC’s friendship with painter Ken Noland [KN]; painter Helen Frankenthaler’s innovations; exposure to American artists exploration of materials; logistics of childcare for SG’s trip with AC; first impressions of New York [NY]. [0:22:27] First impressions of critic Clement Greenberg [CG]; CG’s attitude to SG and artists’ wives generally; CG’s reputation in New York; CG’s apartment, his wife, Jenny [i.e Janice] Greenberg [JG] and CG’s son. Description of JG and CG. CG’s opinion of and behaviour towards SG. [0:26:25] CG’s involvement with Reichian therapy and its consequences for marital and parental relationships; other artists involved; AC’s attitude to conventions associated with Reichian therapy; reason for CG’s suspicion of SG. [0:29:18] Description of KN’s nature; KN’s invitation to AC to teach at Bennington; family departure for America; arrangement for renting Cold Spring Farm; proximity to KN and painter Jules Olitski [JO]; the social and creative exchanges that took place. [0:32:10] Describes impact of exposure to American abstract painting; CG’s famous advice to AC about his use of materials. [0:34:12] The catalyst for AC’s use of steel in sculpture; SG’s response to seeing sculpture by sculptor David Smith [DS]; the influence of DS on AC; the making of ‘Twenty Four Hours’; SG’s input; the decision to paint the work; art critic Michael Fried’s response to AC’s early abstraction. [0:37:16] AC’s dialogues at St Martin’s; the response of older generation to AC’s new work; SG’s involvement with AC’s innovations; their team work.

  • Related transcripts

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

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