Layton, Peter (5 of 22) National Life Stories Collection: Crafts Lives
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2014-11-24, 2014-12-18, 2015-01-07, 2015-01-13, 2015-01-19, 2015-03-02, 2015-03-09, 2015-03-16, 2015-04-13
Interviewee’s home in Worcester Park and studio in London
Layton, Peter, 1937- (speaker, male)
Cornford, Frances (speaker, female)
Part 5: [Session three: 7th January 2015] Childhood memories of Bradford; going regularly to cinema and loving cowboy films; PL also loving comics, mentions The Champion and The Eagle; time spent at lido in Manningham Park; anecdotes about nearly drowning and about pushing GL in; remarks on GL; remarks on VH teaching him to make things. PL having bronchitis as a child. [08:24] VH trying to make PL learn the violin; being taken to Halle by VH at Eastbrook Hall. PL living at home while at art school; PL getting a grant and having a Saturday job; comments on finances and earlier job in rag trade; anecdote about driving boss’s car through snow. Comments on being given a Jean Cocteau print for Christmas. [20:15] Work with Habonim while at art college; PL reviving Habonim in Leeds; comments on others involved in group, mentions Les Clair; PL also president of art school student union; PL seriously injuring wrist playing rugby; PL being told that would have to give up pottery but meeting Israeli orthopaedic surgeon through Jewish community who gave him second opinion; PL treated in London with leather and metal arm brace which cured him. [30:55] PL not able to throw with hand in plaster or in brace; wearing brace for most of first year at Central. PL mostly making handbuilt pots; PL making abstract heads; description of pot; PL going outside department at Central; anecdote about asking opinion of William Turnbull about piece while at Central. [41:59] Details of glazing and finishing while at Bradford; PL using subtle colours in browns and khakis and matt glazes; PL drawing and painting at Bradford; PL becoming inhibited about drawing; PL close to painters on staff at Bradford; comments on paintings PL doing; painters PL admired including Soutine and Kokoshka. Decision to apply to Central. PL living in a Habonim house while at Central. [49:50] PL interested in sculpture more than pottery, mentions Armitage; PL making flattened torsos with heads when at Central which translated into later glass ware inspired by Armitage. Roger Dean as inspiring sculptor tutor at Bradford. PL interviewed by Gilbert Harding Green for Central; PL failing final exam at Bradford but still allowed in; comments on failing exam as doing too many other things; PL as not having facility but dogged; PL getting grant despite failing exam. PL living with Habonim at Central and later sharing flat with brother and sister. [58:38] PL feeling insecure when first started at Central; PL taken up by Dan Arbeid (DA) but then dropped. Comments on other tutors, mentions Ruth Duckworth (RD), Gordon Baldwin, Bill Newland (WN), Kenneth Clark, John Colbeck, Gillian Lowndes. PL also close to Louis Hanssen. [01:06:57] Structure of course; visual studies with Marc Vaux; introduction to new materials such as porcelain; PL responding to sculptural approach of RD and buying her pots; small base common to much of PL’s work, mentions influence of seeing Peruvian pots and pottery background; PL’s interest in work springing from ground as influencing others; flattened glass forms influenced by PL’s early ceramics. [01:14:39] DA and RD talking about own work; PL going to see tutor’s exhibitions, also mentions going to see Gordon Baldwin at Eton. Importance of Henry Rothschild’s Primavera in showing ceramics; Ian Auld as another Central tutor; PL seeing DA exhibition at Primavera; seeing Camberwell exhibition at Primavera including Ian Godfrey and Colin Pearson; PL impressed by Camberwell work. [01:18:40] Comments on what students making at Central, mentions work of William Hall working on majolica panels, Eileen Nesbitt making small porcelain pieces; PL’s friend Robin Costello (RC) living with PL making Picasso inspired work, David Ward as a star student making wall panels. PL as trying to do too many things; PL still doing too many different kinds of things now. Description of PL’s graduation show with huge candelabra, wall with glass fused into clay influenced by WN’s work on Egg and Eye [Golden Egg] cafes; PL making forms with apertures with help of Keith Cummings who worked at Whitefriars; PL making bricks with apertures to form a wall; Pl also having tea set, coffee table with printed tiles. PL interested in negative shape due to training at Bradford and decorating tile panels with fern patterns and patterns of corroded wire window screens; interests still evident in PL’s work, mentions ongoing interest in negative space. [01:33:05] Artist PL inspired by including Brancusi and Nagucci, Henry Moore, Hepworth. How well PL did in diploma show; PL feeling didn’t live up to potential as trying to do too much; PL learning later that best to stick to one theme. Remarks on black head that PL made. Approach to teaching at Central; anecdote about PL designing Christmas card and negative response from Gilbert Harding-Green (GHG); PL subsequently meeting people who always found positive things to say, mentions Tom Buchner at Corning Glass Museum; GGH having favourites; PL a student rep and GGH critical of time PL spending outside course; PL having good ideas not always executed well enough; PL always doing many things at once. PL admiring artists who refine one idea, mentions Hans Coper, Gordon Baldwin, RD. [01:47:30] Comments on crits at Central; remarks on using lead glazes. Tutors coming in part-time; DA more often there, Kenneth Clark having own tile business; tutors teaching other places, mentions WN running London Institute. Structure of course. PL not having own workspace. Description of ceramics department. Ceramics department in modern building of Holborn School of Law and Languages. Remarks on main Central building. PL getting out of ceramics department; spending time printing curtains in textile department to go with coffee table ; PL also having a girlfriend in textiles. [01:59:27] Comments on being student rep. PL’s work with Habonim; PL on central committee for Habonim and discussing apartheid and other issues; remarks on purpose of Habonim to encourage young Jewish people to settle in Israel; PL joining settler’s group as did sister; peer pressure to go to Israel but deciding to go to teach in US instead. PL writing to US universities with RD as a referee and getting a year’s visiting lectureship at University of Iowa. [02:09:15] Remarks on decision to go to America. PL’s vision of future career; destination of other students, mentions John Simms, Bill Hall, John Chipperfield; teaching as an avenue for a career; PL bringing structure of Central to Iowa; PL replacing Jim McKinnell and teaching alongside Warren Westerberg; influence of Bernard Leach and Japanese potters in mid-West USA; Paul Soldner developing raku; Iowa as having very good creative writing and arts departments. Remarks on teaching and making. [02:18:08] PL’s girlfriend and later wife called Tessa Schniedemann (TS), a student at Byam Shaw School of Art. Account of PL meeting TS; PL sharing a stall in Portobello Road selling pottery sourced while on placement in Stoke. PL also going to School of Economic Science course, based on teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky: PL making close friends through course, mentions Mike and Jenny Brown, Chris and Jenny Bryce-Morris. PL meeting TS through Bryce-Morrises and later at stall in Portobello Road; anecdote about TS phoning PL at college to invite him to a party; PL doing extra work in Louis Hanssen’s studio in Notting Hill and TS sitting with PL while he worked. [02:37:29] TS’s background; TS from New Zealand; TS’s brother Michael setting up kitchen shop Divertimenti and later working for Jacksons of Piccadilly; TS’s elder sister Greta Kaplinsky the Elizabeth David of Australia and her sons a film director and a chef; TS illustrating her cookbooks. TS Jewish and had been in Habonim. Comments on TS’s dyslexia and bluffing her way through. Comments on importance of marrying someone Jewish at the time. Parents view of PL’s career; FL pleased when PL ended up in glass.