Dixon, Jeremy (1 of 18) National Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording locations

    interviewee's home, London. British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Dixon, Jeremy, 1939- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dillon, Niamh (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Jeremy Dixon [JD] born in Bishops Stortford in 1939 but grew up in Buckinghamshire – explains how his parents’ mixed with a group of people associated with the Victoria & Albert museum. [00:02] Describes the influence of this group – particularly with music. Mentions his father’s engineering background – and eventual separation of his parents. Mentions his mother’s background in graphic arts – the privations of managing with a young family during the Second World War. [00.05] Mentions meeting someone who recorded his parent’s early married life when she was staying with them. JD father was a member of the Penn Club. [00:07] Mentions how both his parents’ distanced themselves from their respective families: briefly describes his father’s family cabinet making business in Whitehaven, Cumberland – mentions his brother having wood-working skills – how his father came to work in PR in engineering – describes his father [00:10] his father’s interest in porcelain – mentions William Honey who lived in Jordan’s – also mentions Arthur Wheen [00:12] Describes his maternal grandfather Leonard Braund who was a famous cricketer – JD’ daughter who was a Bluebell girl – how JD looks very much like his mother – their appreciation of things artistic. JD mentions how he had a difficult time at school – subsequently found he was dyslexic – [00:16] but was good at making thing. He went to Merchant Taylors school – mentions he had polio as a child – mentions a sadistic school master – how he felt no good at school. [00:19] How his mother conveyed an appreciation of the landscape: built and natural. JD reflects on Herbert Read’s interest in architecture – and how JD was encouraged by family and friends – mentions how attending the Architectural Association (AA) meant he was able to do what he was good at. [00:22] JD belief in being spontaneous – how this is important for work. [00:22] Mentions the freedom he had as a child – how this is no longer the case. His father taking JD to see the Royal Ballet at the ROH – his impressions of it as a child. JD being taken by his father to the opening of the Olympics in London. Discusses how his father was more involved than his mother allowed after their separation [00:27] his father making toys with them as children. He is the oldest of 3 brothers – mentions his brother becoming a cabinet maker. [00:30] Describes Jordans and Seer Green where he grew up – the local team train – mentions Herbert Read/Arthur Wheen/… [00:33] JD describes his appreciation for the landscape and his affiliation to it. [00:36] Mentions the seasons – the cold in winter, his enjoyment of spring and autumn. [00:39] Discusses their healthy diet during the War and Austerity period. Where they sourced their food: shopping in Beaconsfield – his mother was a good cook – JD enjoyment of cooking. [00:42] Describes his mother’s chocolate cupcakes – his mother’s cooking continued – using Elizabeth David recipes. Their healthy diet. [00:45] JD love of dried bananas and malt. [00:48] Their family house and how it gradually became run down – his father’s collecting – mentions his mother possibly having depression – discussion of his parents’ relationship. [00:51] His mother’s close friendship with Arthur Wheen: librarian at the V & A. [00:53] Talks about his schooling: his enjoyment at his primary school, then being sent to various schools: Dooley’s, Gayhurst, and then Merchant Taylor’s – reflects on his parents’ choice of education – the decision to send his youngest child Emily to boarding school [00:58:27] reflects on his parents view of the role education – the contrast between liberal home life and school. [01:00:49] His parents’ decision to move from Essex to Jordan’s and Seer Green. The close links between the Dixons and the other families – mentions Margaret ‘Ludo’ Read who was a practising Catholic – mentions one of their children who was a diabetic and became an art critic – JD worked with him on the Henry Moore commission in Leeds. [01:04:59] Describes Herbert Read (poet and art critic) and his wife Margaret ‘Ludo’ Read [01:09:] JD mother’s admiration of Ludo Read. JD describes the Reads’ house. Their previous house in Belsize Park, London. Herbert Read’s drawings of Saul Steinberg. [01:12:48] Reflects on his parents’ view of social ‘others’ – their distain of bankers and golfers – JD on providing for his old age. [01:17:10] Reflects on his father’s view – discusses his parents’ separation and its impact. [01:19:28] Reflects on divorce at the time and how it impacted on him personally. [01:22:52] JD explains where he lived after his parents’ separation – anecdote about staying in Percy Street London as a student – Glynn Boyd Hart who lived there, later did drawings of the Opera House. [01:27:52] Describes his two younger brothers: Roger who travelled around Europe as a young man, shared a studio with Bridget Riley, now has a house in Ibiza [01:30:23] they now meet for their birthdays. His other brother who adopted an Indian child – the 10 year age difference when they were children. [01:34:11] The culture within their house of being constantly occupied. JD reflects on his mother’s values – her emphasis on creativity. Discusses her interest in the link between Catholicism and art and the influence on him. [01:39:48] His mother decision to give up her career to raise her children.

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