Burton, Richard (3 of 10). National  Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2014-02-01, 2014-02-08, 2014-02-09, 2014-02-15, 2014-02-16, 2015-09-10

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Burton, Richard, 1933-2017 (speaker,  male)

  • Interviewers

    Franklin, Geraint (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 3: [Session two: 8 February 2014] Introduction to session. Recapitulation of family details from session 1. VXP’s career as Shakespearian actress. Her involvement with Michel Saint-Denis’s theatre company [London Theatre Studio]. Appeared in early television and film: ‘Spellbound’. RB’s memories of seeing VXP ‘in lights’ on Piccadilly. VXP’s stage name Vera Lindsay. Mentions her friendship with the theatre director Peter Brook. PBHB’s encouragement of VXP’s theatrical career. Absence of RB’s parents during his childhood; RB’s ‘solitary life’ during childhood. Family bombed out of two London houses during the Blitz. Story of bombed house. [00:15:17] Parent’s separation and divorce. VXP married Gerald Barry [GB]. VXP wartime correspondent for BBC, reporting from France. [00:17:42] Description of GB’s house, Forge House, West Sussex, with extension designed by F.R.S. Yorke. VXP’s role as hostess during planning for Festival of Britain. RB’s relationship with stepfather and brother, Stephen Barry [SB]. Summary of SB’s career as theatre director; early death. [00:21:43] VXP’s third marriage to John Russell [JR], art critic of Sunday Times. Society gatherings hosted by the couple at their house in St Johns Wood. VXP’s connections with the art world: Henry and Irina Moore; Robert Medley. VXP’s folio editions for St Petersburg Press. VXP’s production of Under Milk Wood with the actor Richard Burton; anecdote about the two Richard Burtons. [00:28:41] VXP founded artists’ market in Covent Garden. VXP’s family and friends found themselves in and out of favour with VXP. [brief interruptions] [00:32:20] VXP’s involvement in Swiss art market, working for art dealer. RB mentions VXP’s coterie at St Johns Wood, including the painter Matthew Smith. Story of mafia approaching VXP; anecdote of sale of Henry Moores. VXP arranged exhibitions for David Hockney and [Serge] Poliakoff (no relation). [00:39:31] VXP’s ambitions for her sons. Story of RB’s meeting with VXP in Munich airport. [00:43:37] Story about VXP as BBC correspondent in Paris, interviewing Picasso. Description of RB’s Le Corbusier lithograph; remarks on Le Corbusier’s [Unité d'Habitation] in Marseilles. [00:48:38] GB’s views on social reform and architecture. [00:50:46] Description of JR. JR’s daughter Lavinia Russell married to Nick [Sir Nicholas] Grimshaw. VXP’s jealousy of Livinia and RB’s wife [Mireille Burton] [MB]; her criticism of RB’s children. VXP’s lack of enjoyment of family life; her dislike of touching and being touched. [00:58:34] RB ‘wartime child’; evacuated to prep school in Dorset. Friendship with David Basham. RB’s enjoyment of countryside. Mentions watching Battle of Britain and preparations for D-Day landings. [01:04:46] Attendance of Bryanston School. Ability in drawing and painting. Decision to leave Bryanston at age 17 and attend architectural school. Difficulty in combining science and art subjects. Friendship with John Donat [JD], who later accompanied RB to the Architectural Association. Recollection of [R. Norman] Shaw buildings at Bryanston. Art master arranged visit by Powell and Moya. [01:12:16] RB’s work for GB in Festival of Britain office in 1951. Painting classes in south of France with André Lhote. RB permitted to take part-time art classes at the Slade School of Art during initial period at the AA. Description of William Coldstream’s painting technique. Ambition of students at the Slade. Continuation of drawing and painting during architectural training and practice. [01:22:01] Remarks on Festival of Britain and role of design in social change. VXP’s production of T.S. Elliot’s [Old Possum's Book of Practical] Cats at Battersea Park during Festival. Description of Festival of Britain site and buildings, including Festival of Britain.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Richard Burton (1933-2017), architect.

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