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The Suez crisis


Being influenced by John Berger
Claudia Roden Writer
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Anthony Caro was one of my teachers who taught sculpture in the evenings. And he was very interesting. He lived in... near Golders Green and our flat was in Temple Fortune, near Golders Green. And so, I took the tube from Golders Green, where also other people who went to art school took the same tube. And he did. And it was really nice to sit next to him. And I remember sitting next to him and I was reading John Berger, in the New Statesman. He always had articles. And I had been to a conference where he spoke. So, I was very much into John Berger. And I remember telling Anthony Caro, I wanted to discuss the articles. And he said he appreciated John Berger, but he said he has a jaundiced eye. So, jaundiced eye meant... yes, he had left wing, very left wing views. And it's true that he looked through... had a perspective. And looking back, he was very much... he appreciated social realism. So, I painted social realism.

And as you can see, I painted social realism. I did this painting of Paris, of Immigrant North African. Sorry, I did this painting of North African immigrants in a café in Paris, with a bottle of wine and some bread. I was always looking for workers. Going to the market, Covent Garden, or the meat market to sketch workers, butchers, people who were cleaning the street even. To see how they... their movement. And so, I very much was influenced by John Berger. And at that time, there was a lot of people who were doing abstract art. And now I do appreciate abstract art. I appreciate so many things. But at the time I thought, you had to be social realist. And my dream was to do murals, like they did in Mexico. And to do political murals, to have an influence. I always felt that... yes, you have to have an ambition to change the world for the better.

Claudia Roden (b. 1936) is an Egyptian-born British cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist of Sephardi/Mizrahi descent. She is best known as the author of Middle Eastern cookbooks including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food.

Listeners: Nelly Wolman

Claudia Roden talking to her granddaughter Nelly Wolman about her life in food.

Tags: Anthony Caro, John Berger

Duration: 3 minutes, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023