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Alexander Antrim interviewed by Cathy Courtney

Antrim, Alexander (speaker, male; interviewee)
2011-03-10 to 2011-03-12, 2011-04-02, 2011-05-18, 2011-07-21, 2011-08-08, 2011-09-12


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  • Title:
    Alexander Antrim interviewed by Cathy Courtney
  • Contributor: Antrim, Alexander; Courtney, Cathy, 1954-
  • Other Titles:
    Collection title: NLSC: Artists' Lives

  • Rights: British Library
  • Place Name: Interviewee's home, Somerset
  • Description:
    Track 14 [Session five: May 18 2011] [2:50:05] Recent farewell party for Derek Pullen and Jackie Heuman, principal sculpture restorers at Tate; their reputation; background to leaving Tate; guests at party. Attempt to set up Tate Conservation Centre in South London fell through, led to AA’s successor [Dr Leslie Carlyle] leaving. [4: 13] sound of phone signaling fax being sent]. AA’s use of fax. [5:10] Carlyle made redundant, consequently post no longer existed; conservation department management then split into two, one for collection, one for in-coming and out-going exhibitions, continuity of past therefore lost. Possible reasons for departure of Carlyle. Conservation now Tate Modern, Tate Britain, with director in each place with NS at head of it, plus Liverpool and St Ives, so lack of cohesion; NS having to concentrate on raising money for Bankside so management now delegated; AA understands sculpture conservation is now headed not by conservator but by a manager. Pullen was a managing conservator, organized his workload now this organization is in hands of administrator. [8:50] Current atmosphere at Tate re conservation; Rica Jones, distinguished paintings conservator. Prospects for Pullen. Successful conservators outside museum environments make money. [10:50] Penelope Curtis, new Director at Tate Britain. [12:18] Queen’s visit to Ireland on day of recording; AA uninvolved in recent wedding of Prince William, saw it on television. AA’s vote in recent election re AV and electoral reform. [13:29] Lindy Guinness; her mother, Maureen Dufferin; Claneboye. [17:05] Wood boring beetles and art works. [17:43] Dunluce Castle, negotiations re selling field to Department of Environment and local farmer; excavations on field. [22:40] Climate, 2001 fortunes of AA’s farm. [24:17] AA’s shared exhibition while at Oxford with Teddy Millington-Drake; meeting AW in France [AA refers to squirrel outside]. Reunion at dining club, Lotus Club; AW; further members of the Lotus Club and its traditions; AA’s drinking capacity. AW. [This section closed for 10 years until September 2026: [00:30:57-00:31:15]]; Mariga von Urach [Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle]; Irish Georgian Society. [35:16] AA met Bob Sainsbury [Robert Sainsbury], Lisa Sainsbury at Tate. [35:40] Rupert von Lowenstein. [38:07] Christ Church Dramatic Society; Vernon Dobtcheff, actor. [40:38] Timing of LR’s training with HR; LR and her parents, JR and ER’s. [44:34] JR’s flat in basement of Tate. [45:25] AA’s visits to National Gallery, Tate and Soane Museum whilst an Oxford student; no underground station at Pimlico at this time; effect of tube line being extended. [46:42] LR’s motivation for going into conservation; no conservation department at Tate at this time; Mr Lee, who lived in Tate during week, and technicians at Tate; AA’s first visits to technicians studio at Tate; LR learnt from Mr Lee; no formal conservation course available at this time as CI course had been closed down by AB; CI Department did research rather than practical work. HR began to take pupils in private capacity, LR went to train; JR knew HR. Degree to which LR ever expected to be a fine artist. LR a year older than AA; name DRL and parental finance in the company. Degree to which LR had to earn her living; Rothenstein family finances. LR’s Rothenstein relatives. [55:42] HR’s pupils, Cecily Somerset, PL. [58:40] CI teaching re conservation lectures. [59:45] AA’s membership of English branch of IIC, International Institute of Conservation; conference in Rome, deleterious effect of solvents on oil films, controversy, details. HR would speak at conferences; further details argument re solvents and oil film; substances such as caustic soda, ammonia, acid. [1:06:05] Approach of different nationalities to conservation methods. George Stout’s influence in America; Caroline Keck, Elizabeth Jones, Elizabeth Packard, Sheldon Keck. European attitudes, including Italians re frescoes. Different approaches of restorers and re-touchers re damage; HR’s egg tempera system, testing for colour; impossibility of achieving exactly same effect until AA at National Gallery of Art, Washington and was given sample of acrylic resin Paraloid B72 which was used from then on. [1:15:34] AA’s friendship with Sheldon Keck and Caroline Keck, their work, their training of important conservators in America.; maintaining work by contemporary artists. [1:20:50] Yale Center for British Art; John Brealey, a pupil of Johannes Hell, conservator who took cautious approach. [1:23:48] Brealey worked on Mantegna works from Royal Collection in space curtained off for him at Tate. Tate’s acquisition of [James] Barry painting of Lear and Cordelia, [King Lear Weeping of the Dead Body of Cordelia] conservation done on this; use of spray gun; Brealey. Brealey and conservation at Metropolitan Museum, New York. Brealey and Mellon collection at Yale Center for British Art. AA’s meeting with Brealey at Metropolitan Museum. Elizabeth Packard, Elizabeth Jones, Fogg Museum; mention of Caroline Keck; community of conservators in America. [1:37:50] Impact on AA of first visit to America; stayed in cousin’s apartment [Nicholas Baring] in New York. Frick painting collection; conservator William Suhr. Further details museums visited on AA’s first visit to America; subsequent visits; Carl Foreman, film producer friend in California. [1:49:48] Conservation conferences; Nathan Stolow. Mention LR. Further details AA’s first visit to America; Elizabeth Jones, Boston. [1:54:37] Availability of training for conservators abroad compared to in Britain when AA first working; system in France, Louvre; Tate when running studentships took student from France, time of change, centre established in Fontainebleau. Dutch attendance at conferences. Louvre and conservation. German and Austrian approaches to conservation; student who came to Tate, Susannah Willish [2:01:00] Content of conferences held in recent years compared to when AA first attended, more focus, larger numbers of attendees; problems which still need to be discussed. Question of how one maintains contemporary pictures, how to stop them deteriorating ‘preventative conservation’, recording this, knowing how the artist wants the work to age. Means of preventative conservation; problem of works being moved to exhibitions; half Tate conservation department works in relation to artworks coming and going all round world and how they are handled; AA’s view. [2:06:00] AA’s visits to Russia; Alexander Brianseff [?] at Hermitage; use of sturgeon’s glue. Taking Turners to St Petersburg and Moscow; Ann Elliott, British Council. Russian watercolours. [2:10:20] Australia and New Zealand re conservation; Andrew Durham. AA’s workshop for British Council in Delhi; painting traditions and innovation in India; conserving [Lawrence] Alma-Tadema painting, fiberglass sheet; retouching with watercolour. Difference using egg tempera and watercolour for retouching. Oil film cracks; re-establishing flat plane. Delhi attendees at AA’s workshop. Governor General’s House, painting collection, sculpture of George V. [2:24:00] Meeting Fredda Brilliant in India; former ballet dancer and sculptress, maker of busts of USSR and Indian political leaders. AA visiting Indira Gandhi. Further comments on India. Fredda Brilliant. [2:39:40] AA’s visit to Hong Kong, to Japan; William Courtauld, stepson of Rab Butler, his wife, Caroline, LA. [2:43:40] Mention of AA’s work on Rex Whistler’s murals. [2:44:18] Egg tempera copy of Madonna and Child in National Gallery AA made when training with HR. [2:45:40] Bettina Jessell’s copy, pre-war student of HR. Dutch Madonna and Child sixteenth century painting AA found in Ireland; Jessell’s research; painting now in Ulster Museum.

    Track 15: [49:11] Mention of AA’s Russian watercolours. [0:15] AA’s work on Rex Whistler mural at Port Lympne, owned by John Aspinall; Flora McDonnell; white lead; LA; Andre Bandega, Peter Wilson; Osborne family [relation of Chancellor George Osborne] link with Aspinalls, problem over payment from Aspinall for conservation work. Whistler’s working methods. Aspinall and wild animals. [14:00] AA and freelance work while working at Tate; problem with paper conservator at Tate and freelance work; Tate’s Retirement Board. [17:10] Flood in basement of Tate before Second World War; damaged Turner paintings were written off and said to have been destroyed; Mr Lee put them on big roller and stored them; during AA’s time discovered roll and restored some of the paintings. [19:44] Mention of Freud portrait of Bacon and Turners that were stolen. [20:21] AA’s work on Whistler mural in Tate restaurant; AA’s children worked with him. Mentions Rachel McDonnell and LA worked on Wright of Derby painting owned by AA. [25:10] HR and Blunt. [26:15] Conservation of paintings in Royal Collection; Viola Pemberton-Piggott. Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum conservation at time AA was training with HR. Mr Skillen, re-liner, worked on royal collection. [30:42] Changes in status to role of conservator during AA’s career; people who worked on objects other than paintings were lower status; AA and AB set up sculpture conservation department, importance that staff grades were as conservators not technicians. Status of paper conservators in past in e.g. British Museum compared to now. Status of conservators of framers. Uses of terms ‘restorer’ and ‘conservator’. AB obtained funds from Henry Moore Foundation for sculpture conservation, breaking new ground. Mentions Tim Green; painting conservators used to work on sculptures, AA’s memories of working on Barbara Hepworth carving. Memories of Hepworth. Ben Nicholson and AB. [40:03] HR working on Titian Madonna and Child; Paraloid B72; Garry Thomson; Titan’s Man with a Blue Sleeve, HR’s theory of attribution re Georgione. [45:30] AA’s expectation that he would work at National Gallery, was accepted to work there; Robert Shepherd at Tate and a friend of David Bull of National Gallery made it known that he would like to work at National Gallery, resulted in AA going to Tate and Shepherd going to National Gallery; AA had thought wrongly he couldn’t go to Tate due to business partnership with JR’s daughter. AA’s feelings about not going to work at National Gallery. SS.

    Track 16: [Session six; 21 July 2011] [1:58:55] Plague of jellyfish off Irish coast in 2007 that killed a hundred thousand fish in salmon cages owned by AA and his son; salmon farming had been going on for approx. twenty years run by local syndicate, taken over by AA and his son with new farm manager appointed, had recently had gone organic; subsequent hedge fund investment, is now profitable again; Northern Salmon Company, trading as Glenarm Organic Salmon; disposing of the dead fish. Hedge fund, Pete Davis, Lord Cranbourne, AA’s son’s boss, Guy Monson, Sarasin. Guy Monson is married to Duke of Grafton’s daughter, Rose; AA’s son and RA both knew Duke of Grafton, AA didn’t know him. RA began as Chairman of National Trust in Ulster; National Trust was criticized as being more interested in houses whereas original concept was for preservation of landscape, RA was appointed Chairman of whole of National Trust, early 1970s; Operation Neptune. RA’s Desert Island Discs. [13:49] AA and Fishmongers Company; forebears’ connection with the Company; AA’s period as Master; painting collection and AA’s restoration work (refers also to painting owned by AA’s family currently in studio where recording is taking place and which AA is currently restoring); mentions re-liner whom AA now uses; characteristics of seventeenth century Dutch paintings; reasons why restoration work on painting in Fishmongers’ collection was so difficult. [30:10] Greatest compliment for a restorer is to have their work not noticed. Estimating for freelance restoration work; HR. Degree to which AA documents stages of restoration when working privately, decision of client. [34:27] Further comments paintings owned by Fishmongers Company; painting of Queen Victoria by [Herbert Luther] Smith. [37:42] Billingsgate Market, where AA sold lobsters. RA Fishmongers Company, got HM commission to paint Market before it changed; HM’s Cork Street exhibition; HM taken on by Fischer. HM’s recent exhibition in Mount Street; his painting subjects and career; his partner, Wendy Lindbergh, daughter, Rose. HM read history at Oxford, his writing. AA’s decision not to be a full-time painter. HM and colour; his draftsmanship. AA and HM as brothers. [49:10] Degree to which the family has Celtic blood. [50:18] AA did restoration work on paintings in collection of Duke of Wellington; mentions Apsley House; anecdote re lavatories at Stratfield Saye House. [54:46] Comments working for National Trust before joining Tate. [55:48] Further comments on restoration of paintings belonging to Fishmongers; Fishmongers commissioned portrait of the Queen by [Pietro] Annigoni, which is going to be loaned to National Portrait Gallery, glazing; Annigoni’s portrait of Prince Philip. [59:10] AA’s work for dealer, Richard Feigan at time of working at Tate; mentions LA also working, that they had studio; Turner painter once owned by Dent-Brocklehurst. [1:01:36] Evelyn Waugh, whom AA knew through Waugh’s daughter, Margaret; Waugh’s collection of paintings; Waugh’s daughter Teresa, CM and Nicholas Baring’s sister’s Coming Out party. AA’s work at Combe Florey on Waugh’s painting by Antonio Joli, Waugh’s interest in the restoration. Waugh and AA’s first wife, Sarah. Further details Waugh; mentions Mary Herbert, Waugh’s mother-in-law was AA’s Godmother; incident when Waugh lost temper with Margaret. AS, RA had known Waugh, Christopher Sykes. [1:17:15] Fate of Tower House near Holland Park, which architect William Burgess built for himself; had belonged to Lord Ilchester, who owned Holland Park; agents wanted house to be vandalized as wanted to pull it down; furniture was left to John Betjeman, who gave some of it to Waugh and which is now owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who also owns paintings formerly owned by Waugh. [1:21:11] Paintings belonging to Waugh which AA restored; mentions Waugh getting Richard Eurich to paint companion painting to go with work in his collection. Further details Waugh; John Sutro (film producer); Dr Collis Browne’s chlorodyne. Waugh’s wife, Laura. [1:27:08] Andrew Lloyd Webber’s daughter, Imogen, a friend of AA’s daughter, Rachel. Lloyd Webber’s Canaletto, Horse Guards Parade; Lloyd Webber loan of the painting to the Tate; AA had known the painting when it belonged to Malmsbury family at Greywell Hill House, near to where AA had house in Hampshire; Norman Reid was friendly with AA’s mother-in-law, his view of the Caneletto’s condition; AA’s experience of cleaning it; condition under which Lloyd Webber lent painting to the Tate; Oliver Miller’s talk at Sydmonton about the picture, AA’s talk about the restoration. Lloyd Webber’s painting collection. [1:36:24] Humidity levels in galleries; Tate loan of painting to Army Museum; ideal air circulation; problems AA encountered in Japan; Tate’s loan to Army Museum; use of de-humidifier; AA’s Lagonda car. [1:43:43] Insurers demands for security and preservation controls for collections such as Lloyd Webber’s. Damage caused to paintings by central heating. Seventeenth century Dutch panel which belonged to AA’s great-great uncle, impact severe winter in 1950s re humidity and central heating, panel split; mentions similar problem to Rubens in National Gallery; prevention of this kind of damage. [1:49:26] Changes in height in Tate’s Elizabethan painting of Lady Harrington [by Marcus Gheeraerts] whilst in restoration studio. National Gallery method of holding panels flat. [1:52:26] AA’s work on panel painting of Lullingstone Castle, Kent; Sir Oliver Hart Dyke. [1:55:50] Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    Track 17: [55: 41] Clarifies, Hell’s equipment was given to Tate rather than to AA personally. At Tate didn’t throw things away, e.g. stretchers. [1:53] Bag of swabs in AA’s studio where recording is taking place, kept as firelighters. [2:35] Further details AA’s relationship with Marina; travel together; ending of engagement. Marina’s grandmother, Lady Howard de Walden; Marina’s marriage to Derek Bury [Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury], their son; illness of AS at the time of break-up of relationship with Marina; mentions cottage in Essex which he rented at the time. [15:52] AA mentions meeting Sarah, future first wife. Details Marina’s life after marriage and contact with her; AA and Brighton car rally. [23:10] AA meeting Sarah Harmsworth, a student at Byam Shaw art school; Sarah’s family. [30:13] AA’s friend Rupert Ingrams (brother of Richard Ingrams), his wife, Davina; car crash in which Rupert was killed and Davina was paralysed; Davina in House of Lords; Davina’s son, Rupert is AA’s godson; cricket match in memory of Rupert after accident, with AA’s future father-in-law headed opposing team. [34:34] Further details Sarah’s family; her sisters and their lives, Penelope, Laura (married to painter, David Scott). [37:24] Sarah and Byam Shaw, her painting, self-portraits. Courtship AA and Sarah. Sarah’s family home. AA and Sarah’s wedding; lived afterwards in Moor Street house; details honeymoon in Jamaica; some comments on Robin Moore, writer in Jamaica.

    Track 18: [25:50] Further details honeymoon; lunch with Lady Howard de Walden. [2:50] Sarah’s life after marriage; AA still working privately, soon after approached NG for post, JR asked AA to come to the Tate. Early married life; Sarah’s painting; mentions Sarah’s second husband; Sarah’s exhibition at Crane Kalman, under name Sarah Dunluce. [9:46] Birth of children, Alice, Flora and Randal. AA wanted to buy Tower House, by architect William Burgess. [13:52] AA and family moved to Love Walk, near Camberwell Grove. [15:51] AS a semi-invalid after her illness for rest of her life; RA had stopped running farm, had let the land, AA felt he should begin to run it; applied for job as Director of Ulster Museum art department; James Ford-Smith was appointed; AA was by this time working at Tate, had arranged to go on secondment to Ulster Museum for a fortnight, was offered post of restorer and took it. Impact on Sarah re move to Ireland. Sold Camberwell house to brother. [22:35] AA’s ownership and RA’s ownership re land in Ireland; accountant’s analysis of position.

    Track 19: [Session seven: 8 August 2011] [1:13:24] AA’s paternal aunts, Rose and Jean, accident leading to death of Jean’s husband Will. Paternal uncle, James. Will, a twin, discovery at time of Will’s eye operation of a triplet embryo attached to the eye cavity. James. [7:00] Names of AA’s paternal great-grandparents: William, Earl of Antrim; Louisa Jane Gray, daughter of General Gray, Queen Victoria’s secretary; Victoria knew Louisa as a child, called her in as Lady of the Bedchamber. AA never knew his paternal grandfather, known as Ducie (Dunluce), may have been called William, wife Margaret. [8:58] On leaving HR, AA had no written qualification, qualification was purely having been his pupil; LR had been HR’s assistant rather than his pupil. AA continued to assist HR when he required it. [10:26] Clients of DRL; work for Andreas Kalman, including artist, Scroggs; Kalman’s background, had been professional tennis player, became friendly with Lowry, became agent of painters, started Brompton Road gallery. Lord Waldegrave, early client. Took advice from experienced conservators if problems arose; small circle at this time. British Picture Restorers Association; mentions Horace Buttery. Exhibition in Belfast of paintings from Ulster houses, AA worked on this before exhibition opened; painting belonging to Duke of Abercorn, who upset by AA’s having varnished painting; Horace Buttery; lesson AA learnt. Varnish; some artists didn’t use it, e.g. Turner. [20:45] Description DRL studio, equipment; dry pigments mentions orange Alizarine being unobtainable now; retouching with egg tempera, which changed colour as it dried; hairdryer; resin with wax. Wax with resin caused blanching if picture hung in sunlight, actions to amend this; Lord Waldegrave. Degree to which AA advised clients re not hanging in unsuitable light levels. Fashion of using wax in retouching disappeared. Pigments fading. [26:11] Bees wax used in re-lining; AA knew beekeepers, near Glenarm; artists’ suppliers sold blocks of beeswax but from beekeepers AA could get greater honey content. AA’s daughter, Flora, did painting of the beekeepers, who also sold bicycles, ran garage; anecdote re bike. [29:15] Lord Waldegrave (father of present Lord Waldegrave), demolition of house; present Lord Waldegrave, AA’s niece, Jane. [31:44] John Baring house, The Grange. Paternal aunt married Francis Baring. [33:40] Division of labour, DRL. Most restorers male at time of DRL, completely changed and is now the reverse; became a profession requiring a degree, more females took art history degrees; mentions Norman Reid [NR]. [37:00] Conservators, Drown Brothers, family firm, bridge between traditionalists and more progressive people. Degrees re conservation introduced 1970s; when AA appointing studentships was looking for people with degrees, possibly art school qualification, became a post-graduate profession. The Drowns and Buttery operated in Bond Street; Drowns; use of female assistants not trained in all aspects of conservation. [40:19] Lighting DRL studio; Tony Hall. Not until 1980s that florescent tubes had satisfactory daylight quality, earlier tubes had flicker; HR and lighting. Working atmosphere in DRL studio. When AA first at Tate probably annoyed PW by asking questions. DRL, AA and charging for work, estimates; petty cash books, audited accounts, Mr Bavin, accountant; paid selves wage. AA had flat and studio in Eccleston Street, HR’s pupils asked AA for work, period when paid them a weekly wage found this system didn’t work financially. AA lived both in Moore Street and Eccleston Street; after LR’s marriage she lived in Wales; DRL continued but with nil input from LR. [50:25] LR worked at DRL for three-four years; DRL moved to new studio beneath Chelsea Football ground stadium, where LR also had flat; noise of greyhound racing; LR met future husband, Richard, moved to house in Pimlico. Details DRL second studio. Starting capital LR and AA had put into business, shares equally divided. Kalman gallery exhibition openings, met future clients; David Tomlinson, Richard Attenborough. Relationship social and work lives; Roy de Maistre, JR, first impressions NR. [57:35] Tate construction by Victor Pasmore made with formica which was damaged during conservation by AA and PW. Bomberg painting brought to Tate for Board to consider for purchase, damage whilst in Tate meant Tate purchased the work and repaired it. [1:03:34] Conservation re surfaces with blistered paint. Fire in Belfast warehouse housing Arts Council collection, crates were lined with tar paper, damage caused by this. Tar paper standard for most packers, AA’s struggle to get them to use polythene instead. Blisters in paint. LR and AA and lunch breaks in first studio; The Picasso coffee bar; in second studio cooked in LR’s flat.; wouldn’t have food near pigment. AA used Eccleston Street studio for conservation work after LR’s marriage and before going to work at Tate. [lunch break]

    Track 20: [1:36:47] Temple of Jupiter Pallinaeus Restored, painting AA restored for Richard Feigen; documentation. [1:00] Occasion when AA identified Breugel, Patrick Lindsay of Christie’s gave AA percentage after sale. [2:40] DRL, AA knew would like to work in public gallery, LR’s marriage changed working relationship; AA continued to use DRL for private work after going to Tate. LR’s feelings about move to Wales; AA used studio in her house in Warwick Way before Eccleston Street. LR and Sarah, and LA. AA ran LLR alone for approx. four-five years. PL (differentiates PL from Patrick Lindsay at Christie’s) shared Eccleston Street studio but operating individually; PL’s background and career. Conservators liking to variety of paintings to work on rather than specializing in few artists. [10:09] Atmosphere of Tate by time AA became employed; small staff; had separated from National Gallery under JR; curatorial staff approx. 10 including JR and NR, Keeper; conservation dept., Keeper of Conservation, SS, PW and AA, John Bull left to work privately, Robert Shepherd went to work at National Gallery; Mr Lee had left by time AA arrived. AA joined Tate, 1964/5. Public attendance at Tate when AA first there; NR; JR. Ministry of Works; improvement of lighting in galleries. Before working at Tate AA frequently visited, LR would stay in JR’s flat in Tate before had her own flat. Tate’s Turners, SS. Foreigners being impressed by Turners and by Norwich School paintings. [17:41] AA’s feelings on joining Tate. John Bull, his brother, David Bull, had worked at Bristol City Art Gallery, trained by Director Hans Schubart, who had been a conservator and who had also trained PW. Robert Shepherd. John Bull in private practice specialized in contemporary work. Market in contemporary painting c 1965. AA little to do with Royal College of Art at this time, later involvement as Fishmongers Representative, knew tutors. [23:00] AA joined Tate as Assistant Restorer 2 was made Restorer within a year. Had met SS at Rome conference, 1961, spectrum of people at conference; refers to Cesare Brandi, conservator. SS, his Polish background, war experience, decoration of silk scarves, met wife in Scotland; Courtauld course with HR and Rees-Jones prior to Blunt. HR and SS, Herbert Lank. SS worked at National Gallery before Tate. JR and HR, NR and Tate conservation. Esept, conservator with studio in King’s Road. [32:15] NR and conservation, attended Rome conservators’ conference. Brussels and Rome had institutes of conservation, situation in Paris and Holland; feeling that there should be centralized institute that produced next generation of conservators; when AA began to learn, very few others in his generation, social attitude to the skill. AA and class. Importance of NR being a painter re his interest in conservation, his skills as administrator of Tate. Blunt re lack of development of conservation at Courtauld; only many years later that Courtauld became centre of excellence and teaching re conservation that it is today. SS’s research re Turner. [38:26] Exhibition Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, 1954-64; LG and exhibition budget, impact on his application for Tate directorship on JR’s retirement. Colin Anderson, a client of AA. Anderson [Chairman of Tate Trustees] warning conservation department that would introduce them to new director; Downing Street not approving appointment of LG, Lord Robbins; feelings when NR appointed. LG became Keeper of British Pictures for Tate. NR. [44:22] Colin Anderson, P&O shipping family, grandmother Elizabeth Garratt Anderson, doctor; Anderson association with Fishmongers’ Company; AA a member of Fishmongers’ Company from his twenties. Anderson. Conservation of [Walter] Sickert works; one-man Tate exhibition. [49:15] Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, triggered format for temporary exhibitions.[51:25] First day as Tate employee; Bill Wellstead; staff entrance; location of conservation department, description conservation rooms. Problem re temperature and dryness of conservation rooms; Ministry of Works machines. PW, mentions John Bull still at Tate when AA joined. PW’s background, his friend in Plymouth involved in graphic design, PW worked in Bristol framers before joining Bristol City Art Gallery; PW’s cautious approach re conservation, skill at re-touching. Retouching, appreciation of how paintings have been constructed, colour mixing and application. Marcus Gheeraerts painting which PW worked on. PW, AA. People who would have recognised PW’s skill re Gheeraerts. Success of conservators if no-one notices their work. AA’s pleasure at getting re-touching absolutely right; people who haven’t been trained first to work in tempera not having same abilities. [1:14:11] Rica Jones, present Tate Conservation. Anna Southall re conservation at Tate. When AA left Tate, Southall applied for his former post; NS. [mic falls off] NS re conservation; made AA Director of Collection Services on top of conservation work. Gallery administration, business-speak; conservation handed to administrator; AA a conservator with administrative ability rather than vice versa; Anna Southall. [1:21:29] SS. NR brought in financial supporters and volunteers to give tours of galleries; LA’s mother, Audrey Sacher, members of Marks and Spencer family keen supporters of the arts. LA had been to art school, worked with person who restored furniture, was interested to learn how to restore painters, Audrey Sacher a friend of NR, his daughter, Kate, a friend of LA. Kate Reid worked in Tate conservation department before leaving to work with John Bull; LA came to work in conservation department after Kate Reid left. LA was SS’s pupil; LA also worked with PW; her abilities. AA spoke to Peter O’Donoghue, administrator, felt LA should be paid for her work; LA appointed Restorer 2, worked with PW in ‘the warehouse’. AA beginning to teach new people who joined the department; time when AA went to Belfast. [1:31:05] AA’s marriage to Sarah prior to moving to Belfast. LA’s twenty first birthday, boyfriend. Comment made to AA while working in Belfast. AA and LA. Sarah and Glenarm; RA. Opening night of Sarah’s exhibition at Crane Kalman gallery shared with Mary Newcomb.; friends, Simpson, in Thurloe Square.

    Track 21: [1:22:23] Opening night of Sarah’s exhibition at Crane Kalman. LA. Ending of marriage to Sarah. [4:33] Ulster Museum, James Ford-Smith; AA approached Tate to see if he could rejoin staff; SS’s health. Suggestion that AA might become Director of Ulster Museum. Returned to Tate as Restorer 1, 1971. [7:49] HD, birth of his daughter, Hannah; end of HD’s marriage. AA stayed with Robert Loder for four-five months. LA. AA bought London house for Sarah and children; push-me-pull-you door handles; invented conservatory system; ending of marriage. [17:47] Divorce from Sarah, 1974; subsequent relationship with Sarah and her family. Children, Randal and Flora. [19:29] AA lived in LA’s house for approx. two years before move to Durand Gardens, mentions Richard Morphet a neighbour. LA and AA’s subsequent homes; 1984 Audrey Sacher died, leaving house, Greywell, near Basingstoke; LA and AA’s daughter Rachel, born 1977, her London school.; moved to Greywell and Rachel to local school; AA commuted to Tate. LA’s younger brother, Jeremy; Audrey Sacher. Moved from Hampshire to present house in Somerset approx. three and a half years ago; previous owners of house, garden designers in partnership with man who died in Tsunami 2005. [27:20] Flora Mary, born 1963; her education in England and Ireland; University of Oxford; Roger de Grey, Flora to City & Guilds foundation course, illustration course; AA had recently been to India, Flora to India; City & Guilds; Giles Shepard, manager of Savoy Hotel, Flora’s period drawing at Savoy and other restaurants. Further details Flora; her books under name Flora McDonnell; her husband, Thomas Pennybacker, grandson of Lawrence Toynbee who had taught AA at Ruskin. Flora’s son, Sorley. [45:37] Roger de Grey, Flavia. [47:00] AA’s daughter, Alice, born 1964; her education; university, Oxford; gap year; marriage to Christian Gwinn; Alice’s children, Louis and Claudia. [57:25] AA’s son, Randal, born 1967; mentions Sarah’s second husband, Oliver; Randal’s education, AA’s feelings about corporal punishment; Randal read history at Oxford University; work with Renaissance theatre company; career with Sarasin. AA gave Glenarm and other assets to Randal when Randal twenty five; AA continued to run farm; Randal took name Dunluce when AA became Earl of Antrim; Randal’s wife, Aurora Gunn; Randal’s children, Alexander and Helena. Family Christian names. [1:08:40] AA’s daughter Rachel, born 1977; her education; not offered place at Ruskin, Stephen Farthing Master at time; St Hilda’s [on reading transcript AA corrected this to St Anne’s], Oxford; her paintings, exhibitions; Ray Purdy. [AA confirms train time] Purdy. Rachel’s daughter, Elsa. [1:20:00] AA and his children; LA. Sarah’s marriage to Oliver Gates.

    Track 22: [Session eight: September 12 2011] [59:43] Success of organic farming at Glenarm. [1:17] AA operated DRL from Glenarm when employed at Ulster Museum and lived at Glenarm for approx. eighteen months. Formal dissolution of DRL. LR and DRL after her marriage. Alexander Dunluce, name AA used for private conservation work after dissolution of DRL. Period living at Glenarm when working at Ulster Museum; Sarah. [5:39] RA, Chairman of Ulster Television; George Cameron; board members and investors; Brum Henderson; AA and Ulster Television; early advocates of Ulster Television, including JR. Duke of Abercorn, rival group re television franchise. AS and RA both Directors of Ulster Television; on AS’s retirement, AA took her place on board; AA a shareholder; further details people involved in Ulster Television; Brum Henderson; AA involved until aged 70 [This section closed for 10 years until September 2026: [00:19:29-00:20:06]], retains shares. Clients re picture restoration through Ulster Television. When AA became member of Ulster Television board asked permission from Tate. [23:25] AS and illness. [31:29] AS and RA as grandparents. AS, RA and LA; AS and Sarah. RA died, 1977; AS died 1984; HM giving RA a kidney, early transplant operation. Funeral of RA, memorial service. [44:54] RA’s friendship with Patrick Leigh Fermor. [46:29] HM giving RA his kidney; AS. Mentions HM wants AA to buy clock that may formerly have been at Dunluce Castle; Dunluce Castle run by Department of Environment. [51:04] AS after death of RA. AS’s death. [56:33] Driving AS’s sculpture of Virgin Mary across border into Ireland. [58:00] AA and work in relation to RA’s role with National Trust. Before AA went to work for Tate would send some commissions to HR for his students. [lunch break]

    Track 23: [1:49:51] AA a director of Ulster Television, 1982-2000. [0:20] Fishmongers’ Company will be getting digital print of [Pietro] Annigoni portrait of Queen, funded by National Portrait Gallery in relation to loan of picture. Refers to forthcoming Tate Britain exhibition of John Martin paintings; Tate Martin painting said to have been flood damaged beyond repair in 1928 that was subsequently repaired by infilling, William Feaver’s article concerning this. Digital photography. [5:08] Fear of flooding in Tate c1970; watertight doors. [6:24] Effect on Battersea Power Station re removal turbines and other equipment. [7:40] AA’s period working at Ulster Museum; AA with Kate Reid had previously made survey of Ulster Museum collection; painting from building that had become used as asylum for agricultural workers; AA’s role vetting potential additions to Ulster Museum. [40:24] Tate conservation when AA returned; NR keen on apprenticeships for conservators, AA involved with this; mentions Roy Perry, Christopher Holden, Peter Booth joined; CI and formal course. AA at Ulster Museum 1969-71. [43:24] Details AA’s period working at Tate prior to going to Ulster Museum; status within department, PW and SS; AA’s vintage Rolls Royce. PW. SS. Relationship conservation department and other Tate staff; Mary Chamot Judith Jeffreys (formerly Judith Cloake), NR’s assistant, art historian; NR as a manager of staff. Martin Butlin. Ronald Alley. General atmosphere in years before AA went to Ulster Museum. [1:00:46] Ronald Alley advised Ulster Museum on acquisitions. Mention of Kate Reid, Robyn Denny. Alley and Butlin. Conservation department staff usually asked to report on works considered for acquisition by Tate. AA had been made Restorer 1 by time went to Ulster Museum; working on [Philip James De] Loughebourg’s [An] Avalanche [in the Alps]; ‘reviving’ varnish; PW. [1:10:17] Samuel Palmer’s Coming from Evening Church, use of fish glue; advice from National Gallery, Garry Thomson. SS and National Gallery conservation staff; [Arthur] Lucas; Herbert Lank. SS and HR. SS’s work on Marcus Gheeraerts painting. PW and AA worked in same studio, SS had own studio. SS and hot table from Ministry of Works; weave interference. AA being made Restorer 1. [1:25:48] Tate stores with pull out screens beneath galleries before AA to Ulster Museum. Stores and conservation studios had no air conditioning; attempts to rectify this. When Tate Llewellyn Davis extension built, air-conditioned store built beneath the galleries, conservation tower built; consultant engineers and problems of air conditioning system. Whistling slings to measure humidity; modern electronic devices. Conservation dept. input into planning Llewellyn Davis extension. Conservation studios built at time of Llewellyn Davis extension; HR’s dictum re colour of walls; SS. [1:45:00] Conservation dept. expanded into Queen Alexandra Hospital block as staff increased, AA administered one third of Tate Gallery staff by this time. Temporary accommodation for conservation department due to effect of changes in water table beneath Tate due to Vickers’s Tower, Millbank; Williams & Glyn’s bank, Millbank.

    Track 24: [2:33:54] Tate building exterior when AA first worked there; surrounding area; river. [4:08] Tate stores, Gorst Road, Acton; later store, Bricklayers’ Arms, approx. 1990. [13:44] Degree to which Tate should continue to add to its collection. Member of Tate staff visiting Frank Stella’s studio. Mentions Damien Hirst’s workforce. [20:00] Technical problems re conserving paintings override personal taste re the work in question. Refers to problems re-touching a Bridget Riley work due to optical effects. Refers to painting and frame in studio where recording is taking place which AA is currently working on. AA’s experience trying to repair Tate Barbara Hepworth carving. [26:15] AA involved in magazine, Discovering Art, edited by John Chancellor, JR had advisory role, Henry Moore an advisor. Comments on Moore. [31:45] SS; his own painting. [33:00] Development of AA’s career at Tate after time at Ulster Museum; becoming Keeper of Conservation, SS’s ill health. AA’s supervision of student conservators; expansion of Tate conservation department; Roy Perry, Peter Wilson [amends this to Peter Booth], Christopher Holden, studentships. Mentions Ulster Museum staff were more youthful than Tate, difference this makes. Details Booth, Perry and Holden; Perry’s skills at re-touching, his own works of art; Holden. [44:06] Peter Wilson, Stephen Hackney, Alec Cobb (sp?) joining conservation dept. Trend towards less and less intervention re conservation, preference for preventative measures. SS’s re-linings not reversible. Risks of re-touching. Gradual realization that SS’s methods had flaws. [52:57] Methods of other conservators; Westby Percival-Prescott. Devising new ways of working, loose linings. SS. [55:40] Stephen Hackney; Sue Alwyn. Lack of management or administrative training for AA at Tate, experience of both in other aspects of his life eg running farm. [58:43] Promotion prospects for AA on return to Tate after Ulster Museum, other contenders for post as Keeper. Role of Keeper as Tate staff increased; NR; title Keeper no longer used at Tate; AA became Director of Collection Services by time retired from Tate. AA’s role as Keeper when SS left, administered Conservation dept.; reports on staff unseen by staff at first, later changed; using budget. Keepers attendance at board meetings; changes in relation to this under Dennis Stevenson [Baron Stevenson of Coddenham]; mentions Tate decision not to purchase Edward Hopper painting; changes under Stevenson re Tate purchases in relation to Board. [1:10:44] Transition directorships of NR and AB. James Stirling; gallery lighting; mentions Jeremy Hutchinson, AB, Peter Wilson. [1:17:06] Board meetings; Peter Palumbo; Richard Rogers. Palumbo. AA’s contribution to board meetings; Antony Gormley bread sculpture. [1:24:50] Donations of large quantities of work to Tate re conservation and storage; Alistair McAlpine gift. [1:27:16] AA’s involvement with Tate St Ives, Hepworth garden and studio; Tate Liverpool; impact re conservation re new Tate sites; mentions cost of constructing box for Henry Moore sculpture. [1:33:30] Growth of Conservation dept. under AB directorship; Derek Pullen; Tim Green; changes since AA retired, work contracted out. Mentions influx of Turners for conservation at time Clore Gallery completed. Sculpture conservation in Queen Alexandra Hospital; paper in Clore Gallery studio. Changes re conservation of frames; John Anderson; Steve Huxley; gilding. AA supervising larger conservation staff, impact on his hands on conservation work. In final role AA had at Tate might never have done any conservation himself had he not insisted; feelings about administration. AA’s assistants, Jo Crook, Linda Bird (sp?), Graham Peters. [1:46:10] NS as Director of Whitechapel Gallery; as Tate Director; Bruce McAllister; re art handling; Suzanne Freeman. Edwina Sassoon, AB; approach to AA to be Deputy Director of Tate. Mentions Sarah Bowness. Suzanne Freeman. NS, Dennis Stevenson. NS’s rehanging of galleries. [1:55:48] Discovery of Bankside site for Tate Modern, history of building; Herzog & de Meuron, architects; gallery lighting. [2:06:40] Size of Tate staff when AA retired compared to when he joined, difference this made. AA was line-manager to approx. 100 people by time of retirement. Ruth Rattenbury, Head of Exhibitions; changes at Tate now in relation to Rattenbury’s former role. [2:10:00] AA’s travel in connection with Tate exhibitions. [2:15:21] LA; her career as painting conservator and subsequently with period dolls’ houses. [2:21:45] Degree to which AA was able to go on painting at same time as career at Tate. [2:26:10] AA’s health. LA. [2:30:40] AA’s role at City & Guilds of London Art School; the Beckwith Scholarship. Difference in conservation profession at present compared to beginning of AA’s career.

  • Notes:
    Recording: 2011-03-10 to 2011-03-12, 2011-04-02, 2011-05-18, 2011-07-21, 2011-08-08, 2011-09-12;
    - Antrim, Alexander (speaker, male; interviewee);
    - Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female; interviewer)
    Recording Notes: audio files 24 WAV 48 kHz 16 bit 2 channel
    Access restrictions: Track 14 section closed for 10 years until September 2026: [00:30:57-00:31:15]; Track 22 section closed for 10 years until September 2026: [00:19:29-00:20:06].

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