Butler, Rosemary (6 of 14). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives.
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Interviewee's home, Hertfordshire
Butler, Rosemary, 1930- (speaker, female)
Whiteley, Gillian (speaker, female)
Reg's beliefs about wastage of life. Family involvement in First World War. No political involvements. War years. Jo and Reg stayed at Iping, Sussex. Frances Partridge. Made spare parts for agricultural machines. After war, returned to The Bury. 1945-46, rented shop and rooms in Park Street, Hatfield. Reg started to make small sculptures around 1947-48. Did wood-carvings in war time and had already experimented with casting lead. Interested in technical side of casting. Rented studio too. Still practising as architect. Gradually realised he wanted to be a sculptor. No formal training - learnt everything himself. Later made precision intstruments too - always worked everything out on paper. Also before war, tutor at Architectural Association and during war did series of articles on pre-fabricated buildings. Asked by Admiralty to work on projects. Technical Editor. Designed pub beneath Architectural Press, Queen Anne's Gate. Major career, great promise as architect. Meanwhile producing sculpture. Eric Newton's book on sculpture - Reg's work great contrast. Angst-ridden sculpture - whole range of work, Germaine Richier, Giacometti. Reg very interested in work by other artists. Before war, he and Jo and set up a hand press and they printed curtains with blocks - still using curtains that have been going since 1938. Continuity - all furniture, curtains still in use. Rosemary never saw Reg's first show at Hanover Gallery in 1949 - which was a solo show. Practised architecture as Cotterell Butler and used 'Reg Butler' as sculptor. Very exciting exhibition. Jo's life changed completely - Reg had hardly any money. She helped him around forge. After first exhibition, Hatfield Technical College commissioned Reg to do sculpture - he knew a lot of people through architecture connections. Meanwhile, Henry Moore started to go to Slade. Coldstream had become Head at Slade and wanted to liven it up. Gerrard was Professor. Moore suggested Butler would be perfect. Reg did one day a week at first, then regular visitor. Rosemary got to know Reg at this point. Reg made Hatfield piece in studio at Hatfield. He started to work in clay and produce more solid sculpture. The Oracle 1952. Work for Hanover exhibition was forged - tenuous shapes. After that, he started to weld. Reg called it 'knitting in metal' - started to feel he had to move away from the iron. Seeing clay at Slade, started to include more solid pieces.
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.