Butler, Rosemary (10 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

    Family circumstances. April 21st 1958, Cortina born. John Read made film about Reg at time. Reg passionate about fast cars - after Volkswagon Beetle, he bought had Jensen 451 in racing green. Jensen features at beginning of film - Reg wanted to put across this image in the film. Dramatic shots of Reg in studio. Rosemary pregnant at time and Cortina born a month after film was made. Cortina's birth - Rosemary VIP patient at University College Hospital where Mother was Registrar and knew Professor of Obstetrics. Had to buy wedding ring to appear married whilst in hospital. Baby began to come, went to hospital in Jensen at speed. Stayed in hospital. Life with baby. Initially, Rosemary couldn't help. No longer made shell bronzes. Susse now doing casts but Reg needed help to make moulds to send to Susse. Rosemary only person he could work with. After 6 weeks, Vera Farrant joined household and has been friend and help ever since - looked after house and children while Rosemary went back to help in studio. Next child - Creon - born April 1960. Hired a nurse to help out before he was born - but it didn't work out and she left. More complicated with two children but Vera helped and so Rosemary went back to assisting again. Reg's work - the 'boxes'. First box was 1951 in forged and welded iron - now in Museum of Modern Art. He put all his 'worries' in box. After children were born, he went back to boxes. Possibly part of coming to terms with losing part of Rosemary. Figure in Space 1957 - figure like acrobat, pinned onto a frame, fimely balanced on single point. All work were extraordinarily worked out. First tower - Boite de Fetishes - stands on floor - no pronged feet. Relates to an old bible - relates to image of Tower of Babel, sense of fiery furnace. Study for a great tower - maquette - was an idea for a major piece which was never made. Some sculpture returned to Susse foundry as unsatisfactory - not good enough for Reg. He invented his own investment (plaster material that goes up against the surface of the wax) in 1962 - high quality of casting - patented his investment and foundries used it. Reg moved to using Morris Singer and Burleyfield foundry. Reg's high standards - he always knew if foundries were cutting corners. He demanded the best and constantly pushed for better work - he became obsessed with perfection to some extent and this caused some problems sometimes. Felix Mann - photographer. Reg needed lithograph press and so made one - he was totally driven. Folder of lithographs. Boxes. Inside boxes were small figures from around the studio. Uninhibited about using bits lying around studio. Rooms inside box - like small room. Study for the Great Tower - importance of architecture. If it had been built, this could have been like Angel of the North is now. Commissions in the 1960s. Oracle only one except Crystal Palace project around 1960. Reg proposed figure on metal base - he made a maquette. Piece never cast. Reg was never satisfied with commissions - too many restraints. Around 1963, cottage next door to Ash was used for drawings - old larder - Reg made it into a studio and fitted shelves. Moved from making towers to making series of small figures and these were placed on the shelves. Musée Imaginaire was the result - collection of small figures. This was included in retrospective exhibition at time in Louisville - first major one he had - includes introduction written by Reg . Reg also wrote introduction/letter in Pierre Matisse catalogue. Important point in life. Rosemary starts to be ill - ill for a year. Rosemary gets T.B. - distressing nature of illness. Discovered it was T.B. in August 1964 - traumatic.

  • 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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