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A developing interest in art


Artistic parents
Brian Sewell Writer
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Well, my mother wanted to go to Slade, but again this was one of the family problems. Her father said respectable young women didn’t go to art schools, and so she wasn’t going either, which didn’t help matters. But she was allowed to… apprentice is quite the wrong word, but it’s the only word I can think of. She was allowed to go and work with a couple of artists, one of whom was Frampton, who is the sculptor who made the Edith Cavell monument. So she had at least some knowledge of how things are carved and modelled and so on about sculptural practice. And she then went to assist, again, may be too strong a word, but play some sort of part with a woman artist called Kate Coughtrie of whom almost nothing is known. I have a few letters and I have one drawing by Kate Coughtrie, but almost nothing is known. I think in the last half century, two watercolours have appeared at auction and nobody has known who Kate Coughtrie is or was. Anyway, my mother had some sort of artistic practise, both as a sculptor and a painter.

[Q] [Unclear.]

She was a very good musician, too. She had a great cello. She had rather a good violin, which she eventually handed to me. And an exceedingly good cello, which she played until arthritis got into all her knuckles. So…

[Q] And your father? But he was artistic, too.. or?

He was a composer. But he had very much run out of steam towards the end of his life. I think he was 39 when he committed suicide, and for about five years before then was really producing nothing. Was, indeed, trying to get jobs. Trying to get a job in the manuscript department of the British Museum, for example, and was refused. Quite rightly, I think.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Slade School of Fine Art, Edith Cavell monument, British Museum, George James Frampton, Edith Louisa Cavell, Kate Ruskin Coughtrie, Philip Heseltine, Peter Warlock, Mary Jessica Perkins

Duration: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012