Butler, Rosemary (11 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

    Rosemary and T. B. X-ray van in car park and sent to hospital. 6 months hospital. Midhurst or Harefield Hospital were options. 2nd opinion from University College - and went to isolation hospital in Devonshire Street. Children had to be tested but were OK. Within 3 days, Rosemary was in hospital - every Sunday Reg drove children to hospital to wave to her as they weren't allowed in. Recovered after huge amount of medication, injections. Children had to have prophylactic medicine too. Creon resisted but was persuaded eventually. Hospital location. Rosemary's father had died of T.B. The release from hospital. Support from Reg and Jo. At time, Reg was making a sculpture of a large figure diving but couldn't concentrate. Valsuani casts - fabulous quality. Around 1966-67, Reg was surrounded by dark bronzes - small figures. One had been enlarged and was in white plaster and he painted it down and then realised that it might be turning point. Wanted to work in a different way. Impact of New Generation work - Reg knew sculptors and brought them in to Slade to be tutors. Respected their work but he was never an abstract sculptor. Not insects - related to human figure. Important turning point - this dark bronze period - Reg wanted to break away from the dark figures. Large bending girl of 1968 was first of new work - startling change from all previous work. Relate to Figure in Space. Plinth not apt as would have looked sadistic and so stood the figures on cushions. Very innovative for time. Showed them in America - but never shown in England until Tate rerospective in 1980s. Children never went into studio for a year while he made them. Bending Girl set up in studio - did it from a small maquette. Then, started to dismantle it, arms sawn off and moved around. From being head looking down, it became head looking up - relates to Hatfield and aircraft going over. Bases important - abnadoned the three-pronged idea. All bases were made of bronze, painted. Balance important. Rosemary worked on all figures - only perosn ever to work on them. All figures started as plaster-casts. Then they had them cast in polyester resin as lighter. Horrible material - studio full of dust. No extraction. Only 4 years after Rosemary had T.B. Lots of sawing of bits, then painted them with car paints - more fumes. Reg obsessive worker, never stopped. All experimental. Huge sculptures. Grinders. The large painted bronzes. Enormous amount of work went into each one - very detailed. When they were casting them for Pierre Matisse - they scotch-taped cushion-bases and painted them and daughter helped. Took days just to do cushion-bases. Body parts painted and rubbed down repeatedly to get smooth surface. Collected red mud from Exeter - side of road. More paint. Endless processes. All sculptures were different. Could never be done again. In total, 2 large bending figures - original cast and then Reg sent one to an open-air exhibition in Japan and won prize of £8000 and one went to Pierre Matisse. New York critics - some found them pornographic, obscene. Detail - eyes. Hair - Rosemary did this, skulls separate, each skull drilled and tufts of real hair were put in. Went to great lengths to get right hair - used Asian hair in strands. Meticulous work. Experimented with colours for bases but settled on grey/greenish stripes.

  • 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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