Oral history of British science
Curtis, Adam (1 of 15) An Oral History of British Science
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2014-08-06, 2014-08-07, 2014-08-08
Interviewee's home, Glasgow
Curtis, Adam, 1934- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 1: [Session one: 6th August 2014] Adam [Sebastian Genevieve] Curtis born in London in January [3rd] 1934. Comments on life of father (born 1894) including training as architect, service in World War One [WW1] (including latter service in interpretation of aerial photographs), career as architect in successful practice concerned especially with building of Catholic churches and restoration of country houses. Mentions father’s valuing of architecture as career for self, offset by his negative view of development of architectural profession/work. [2:36] Comments on life of mother including birth in Ireland, higher education in Slade School of Fine Art, London, profession as portrait painter (refers to mother’s paintings in room at own home in which this recording is being made – including portrait of self as a child – and print by daughter Penelope Curtis). [4:05] Comments on father’s childhood, including details of paternal grandparents. [5:40] Comments on mother’s childhood, including Quaker influence in upbringing, rebellion as young adult including involvement in communist politics (with first Soviet ambassador to Britain as boyfriend), lives of sisters. Brief comments on mother’s first marriage to artist; meeting of mother and father following end to mother’s first marriage. [7:55] Mentions locations of childhood homes until age six: London and Kensworth, Bedfordshire. Brief comments on experiences in house in Kensworth. [8:53] Comments on childhood home in Camden, London. Mentions parents’ artist/architect friends here. Comments on move to/father’s design of new-build house [in Nags Head Lane] in Great Missenden [GM], Buckinghamshire [response to need to move out of London at time in context of shortage of housing elsewhere]. [10:55] Description of house in Camden, London. Comments on setting of/landscape around home in GM. Mentions private school attended near GM; interest in horse riding at this time. [12:34] Comments on memory of mother painting and undertaking housework in CR and GM homes. Mentions reduction in mother’s painting from mid 1940s, due to an eye injury. Brief comments on [pause] father’s work as architect. [13:52] Further comments on childhood memories of mother painting. Mentions current possession of collection of eighty of mother’s paintings; tendency for mother’s paintings to feature turkeys [also scenes of rural crafts]. [14:57] Comments on mother’s membership of the New English Art Group. Mentions Fred Porter; mother’s teaching of art. [15:41] Comments on memory of mother drawing for self (as a child) drawings of sea creatures. Story of mother’s illness from mid 1940s: Parkinson’s disease [PD]. Comments on mother’s death; own childhood illness; effect on childhood of mother’s illness; childhood walks led by mother before her illness. Story of finding own way home from family walk, aged four.
Life story interview with Adam Curtis, cell biologist