Butler, Rosemary (3 of 14). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Hertfordshire

  • Interviewees

    Butler, Rosemary, 1930- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Whiteley, Gillian (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Evacuated to farm, father left very little money. Mother had to get job at Medical Research Council. Mother used to go to Waterloo, sit in train while bombs dropped until safe. Rosemary very aware of losing mother after father's death. Insecurity of time. Helped by Royal Medical Benevolent Fund who supplied clothes. Got her into Oxford High School. Billeted on colleague of father's at Oxford University but his wife hated Rosemary. Mother begged headmistress to take Rosemary as boarder. Rosemary's best friend, Shirley Korn, had also been evacuated from Hampstead High School - still good friend. One of father's brothers took Stuart in at age 5 or 6 - mother took to Aberdeen on train and left him there. Emotional trauma and courage of time. Oxford schooling 1941 to 1947. Memories of Oxford - freedom, wonderful time but traumatic with wartime emotion. Rosemary's bedroom at Esher with white furniture - under bed in wooden box was a complete skeleton of a woman (one of father's). Also whooping cough twice. At Oxford, had extra art lessons on Saturday mornings. Painting, drawing but not real stimulus. Enid Hardy, new art teacher, was influence - went to Pitt Rivers Museum and Ashmolean. Mother had lodger to pay for house and American woman, Ruth Hooper, assistant to Eisenhower, stayed with mother. From New England, very cultured and huge influence on Rosemary. Trips to bombed London, National Gallery, opened Rosemary's eyes to art. All through period she was most important influence. Stuart came back from Scotland. Flying Fortresses over garden at Esher. Oxford enormous privelege. After school - mother dreamed that she would be a doctor. Headmistress said Rosemary not capable, Rosemary wanted to be artist. Mother backed her. Wanted her to go to best one - drawings of Belsen, devastated by camps, didn't get into Slade as too immature. Next, tried Camberwell. Coldstream, Townsend, Claude Rodgers all taught there. Went for interview to Ruskin at Oxford. Saw first nude there as went through life-drawing room. 1947, got place in Camberwell - wonderful. Lucian Freud. Went to sculpture area by chance - had never really looked at sculpture, realised this was for her. Cubitt Beavis, well-known sculptor at time, enormous enthusiasm. At end of first year, spending all time in sculpture department. Grant from Surrey meant had to go to Wimbledon after first year so left Camberwell. Lived in Esher, travelled to Camberwell. Started to going to more exhibitions a bit later. Knew of Hepworth and Moore but not a lot. Social life - started to wear outrageous clothes, parties. Not many men friends until Slade. London trams, safe place. Bombed buildings. In 1946, had been Girl Guide and Sea Ranger. As Sea Ranger, went to Switzerland, with friend Shirley, through France on third-class train. Really saw devastation and dreadful effect of war on families. Luxury of Swiss life complete contrast, spent time on mountains. Amazing trip for her at16 - first time abroad. Country lane walks when younger. Railway line from Basingstoke, Red Cross and munitions trains. White and red trains - wonderful description of contrast and irony of image of poppies.

  • Description

    Rosemary Butler is the wife of the late sculptor, Reg Butler (1913-1981). Over the course of this interview, she discusses Reg Butler's life and work.

  • Related transcripts

    Rosemary Butler interviewed by Gillian Whiteley: full transcript of the interview

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