Brown, Neave (3 of 19). National  Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2013-12-07, 2013-12-14, 2014-02-08, 2014-03-08, 2014-03-15, 2014-03-29, 2014-04-26, 2014-07-27, 2014-08-10, 2014-08-17, 2014-12-06

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Brown, Neave (1929-) (speaker,  male)

  • Interviewers

    Franklin, Geraint (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 3: Introduction with date and place of birth. Remarks on NB’s name and forms of address. Middle name after maternal grandfather John Sinclair Clark [JSC]; remarks on his character and beliefs. [Some background noise]. [00:08:29] Description of maternal grandmother Harriet Benton. NB’s indifference to religion as child. Remarks on children’s lack of inquisitiveness. Liberal values of mother’s family. [00:17:17] Curiosity of NB and sister about father during stay in United States. Description of family problems after return of NB, his mother [BEC] and sister [BBB] to England after the war. Parents’ separation and father [PBB]’s second marriage. Move of BEC to Weybridge, where NB stayed during holidays. [00:21:51] Description of NB’s visit to Normandy in Spring 1946 to stay with Rincent family, friends of MCW. [Some background noise]. Visit to Paris the following Spring. Remarks on character and appearance of Paris after the War [brief interruption]. [00:31:00] Description of family’s routine in Normandy. Distance from family problems in England. [00:34:32] Description of JNB [paternal grandfather]. [Loud coughs] Remarks on contrasting background of mother’s and father’s family; on learning family stories. [00:43:32] NB’s sister, Barbara Bourne Brown [BBB] two years older; origin of her middle name. Effect of departure of uncle [Howard Williams] from house in Bronxville, New York. Description of daily routine in Bronxville. The move to America a liberation from family problems and the war. [00:54:37] Remarks on the effect of frequent moving and domestic insecurity on NB’s education. Starting at Marlborough College haven from family problems; NB’s decision to be himself, not to assume ‘English‘ appearance. NB’s good academic record at Marlborough; took Oxford scholarship exhibition exam. Involvement in art school. [01:00:50] NB comments on how he was perceived by other pupils. Colin Glennie [CG] school friend from different house; later attended Architectural Association [AA], as did Peter Collymore [PC]. [01:02:40] NB’s interest in art and making things: art classes and carpentry at preparatory school; painted and drew at Bronxville high school; visits to art galleries and museums in New York. Comments on American art scene during the War. Aunt paid for NB to attend Saturday art school at Grand Central Station. Description of art classes at Marlborough College. Story about art master’s comments on Picasso. [01:07:08] Conservatism of cultural life in England; peripheral status of Modernism at that time. NB discusses contrasting attitudes towards culture, society and authority between United States, Britain and Europe. NB’s enjoyment of being more radical in his thinking. [01:16:00] MCW’s knowledge of European culture; her return to Paris before the end of the War to assist French victims of war. MCW sent art books back to NB. [01:17:38] Comments on conflict between organising a new society and restoring contact with an old one. Differences between United States and Britain in funding higher education. NB mentions myth of American ‘free society’. NB’s perception of class system on return to England. Marlborough College as ‘haven’. [01:24:34] NB’s dual nationality; dilemma about national identity and whether to do military service with United States or British Army. At War Office Selection Board NB selected for Officer Cadet Training Unit at Aldershot and received commission as Second Lieutenant in Second Dragoon Guards: ‘high gentry regiment’. Loss of American accent during this period. [01:27:57] Period in British-occupied Germany at Luneburg Heath training area. Large displaced persons’ camp next door. As regimental entertainments officer NB arranged recitals with musicians from displaced persons’ camp. Story of visit to displaced persons’ camp. [01:36:42] Description of ruined cities of Hamburg and Hanover, and attendance of concerts. Exchange of letters with mother, sister and aunt. Mother’s remarriage and return to United States before NB demobbed. [01:40:33] Rigidity and inflexibility of curriculum at Marlborough College in comparison with American high school. [01:42:32] NB’s complaint to head of English about teaching of poetry. Mixture of good and bad teaching. Choice between science and arts. Art classes with Captain Barton; obtained Higher Certificate. Persuaded to take Oxford Exhibition in English literature; private tuition at master’s house. NB came second in entrance exam; comments on handwriting and spelling. [Brief interruption]. [01:49:11] Free time at Art School. Story of meeting with Bill Howell [BH], an Old Marlburian and airforce officer. Their discussions about NB’s future. NB’s wishes to go to Art School in Oxford. BH’s suggestion that NB become architect. Familiarity with writings of Le Corbusier. Decision during National Service to train as architect at AA. Description of BH. [01:52:28] Teacher named Bill Spray encouraged NB to read Karl Marx, [William Cobbett’s] Rural Rides and [Adam] Smith. Mentions later contact with BH. School friend CG a committed modernist who produced drawings influence by Le Corbusier [LC]. Pored over LC’s Oeuvre Complète together. [01:56:14] Description of Oeuvre Complète books and LC’s Dom-ino diagram. References at Architectural Association: [Alfred] Roth’s New architecture, Oeuvre Complète, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe [MvdR], Alvar Aalto.

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