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After I left the RCA I looked for a bigger studio somewhere between Paddington and Shepherds Bush. I looked at stables where the horse had just moved out and then found the bargain of my life in Norland Sq.
The house was full of controlled rent tenants except for the ground-floor which I let to Sheila a girl-friend of Keith’s. The studio took up most of the garden and was the real attraction. I inhabited a cubicle in the studio plus the passageway leading to it from the house in which we established a kitchen-dining room which looked out onto what remained of the garden. Just a strip, I paved with second hand York paving not more than 8 foot wide and perhaps 8 yards long but the windows faced south and overlooked the other back gardens. I established my first tipping furnace just at the edge of the basement area. Janet moved in with me shortly after I took over.

Janet and I were more or less complete opposites. I being somewhat extrovert and optimistic while she was distinctly introvert and somewhat pessimistic. She was beautiful behind her rather heavy spectacles, one eye was very weak. I thought I could cheer her up and to some extent I did. But she had a rather melancholy disposition which I attributed to her family background. They were pretty well off but both her parents where illegitimate and rather shy as a result. In fact they moved house every two or three years I think not only because they had done up each house and therefore there is nothing more to do but also so they probably didn't quite fit with their neighbours. They never left England in their lives and in fact Janet didn't really enjoy Italy in the same way as I did. I remember returning from one of my summer trips full of ideas from my visit to Rome and Venice; she had done a similar trip with friends from Kingston in their car but clearly had not enjoyed it that much.

Her father Les, was the treasurer of Esher County Council, he was obviously rather good at it and Janet had inherited his head for numbers. When I first knew her at the Royal College of Art she was making quite good money at weekends by Zeta checking, that is checking the winners of football pools for Zetas. In fact in every way she was a superior student to myself. She had passed all the usual exams including a teachers diploma and finally getting into the Royal College of Art without Barnet’s help.

She had gone to grammar School and always been in the very top set, they were deeply disappointed when she decided not to go to university but to art school instead. She was in the same year as I was and our first conversation was initiated by her asking me about the wax figure I was making. I don't think she had ever come across the use of wax before although bronze casting was available at the Royal College of Art. Afterwards I cast a head for her in Tufnel Park, which when exhibited in the Young Contemporaries earned her a nice mention in The Observer newspaper, the other students were very jealous. I got to visit her in her Goldhawk Road flat which was very charming except for the fact that you heard the trolley buses, the wires tingling when the bus was still a mile away the wires passed by her window. She shared the flat with Charmian a wild student of sculpture with us at the Royal College.

Soon after I found my studio in Norland Square and she moved in with me. She continued her studies at the Royal College of Art but Bernard Meadows had become the professor and disturbed almost everyone who I knew from that period including Janet. He was a new modern broom. Nonetheless, she graduated from the college with a very reasonable degree.

There is always a certain level of competition between two artists sharing their lives and I always felt I supported her a great deal more than she supported me as an artist, though in business she was very supportive. She worked in a charming studio in the garden of an old lady in Edward Square but somehow lacked energy for her work. Having been queen bee at her grammar school and as an only child she obviously had become used to encouragement for whatever she did, while I had become used to doing without encouragement; so although she was by far the more promising student I soon became the more promising sculptor, and this tendency accelerated throughout our lives together.There has been a lot of talk about how male artists have dominated the scene for the last 40,000 years and there's no doubt that prejudice helped males and discouraged female artists.

The areas where Janet and I best co-operated was in the houses and garden. She was really good at those kind of architectural drawings for projects and was a dab hand at decorating, including painting furniture or hanging wallpaper. She was a very good cook, or became a very good cook. Our early meals together were fairly dull but my tastes were sophisticated and she soon caught on mainly by following good cookery books, Elizabeth David a favourite. As a student I had been fairly well known for cooking but she soon became very much better than I and did not encourage me to help though I think I was a participating spouse throughout our lives together - washing up, changing nappies, attending births etc. But again I must admit Janet did far more of the chores than I. Her business sense kept the Verrocchio on course. And she became a really good potter, particularly on a small scale, always in adult classes. She somehow lacked the confidence to set up on her own. Before she died she had started to paint which possibly was her true vocation.

When the children came along we expanded by first moving Sheila out and then adding a new floor above to the passage. Amazingly, we got permission but the house to the north was divided into flats and the garden completely neglected. Though we finally fell out with the architect who had negotiated the design through the councils, the conversion was a great success. Soon after Janet insisted on buying the house next door, number 41, she was really interested in the garden. I thought it was very expensive but it turned out to be a valuable asset – a rooming house we gradually improved and sold off in flats, every flat for more than we had paid for the house. We lived happily in number 40 till 1983.

In 1958 when I found it, Norland Square was fairly run down neighbourhood, housing several prostitutes who did business parading on Holland Park Avenue. By the time we left many of the houses had returned to family residences for city bankers, we had become poor relations. Furthermore the cornice had fallen off with a terrifying thump which luckily did not take the balcony with it. We managed to replace it with a fibreglass substitute but it gave me a strong sense that I was getting out of my depth financially, fortunately now with a whole house, a very valuable asset.

The house of course was a very unusual shape and so it did not attract buyers immediately but fortunately a rather pushy Hungarian got interested but was not interested in the studio. I had always had in mind that a friendly old lady who's house backed onto the Garden of 41 it would have been the perfect way of combining the studio with a home for Janet but unfortunately the old lady who was very much on the edge of needing to move into sheltered accommodation never actually could make the decision to move. Fortunately, the man who lived next door to her was willing to sell and we bought his fairly modern conversion at a slightly inflated price. But it did mean that we could keep the studio and have a small house for Janet. By that time it had become fairly clear to me that I would not be using a studio in London in future.

Janet lived there for a year or two 2 but it really didn't suit her and she determined to convert the top flat in 41 for her own use. The design included a roof garden which was really lovely. But she had terrible problems with the builders and I was fully engaged in Casole. It was possibly at this very stressful time that she developed the cancer from which she died 5 years later.

The flat was very beautiful when it was finished and she was very pleased with it. She ran the Verrocchio office from there. and when she was no longer fit to do so she handed over the job to her friend Christine. The last few weeks of her illmess in hospital were heart-wrenching; she had a fierce determination to live though the fates had decided otherwise.

I no longer commuted beteen London and Casole. The children had moved on. All my activities now centred on Casole where the Centro d’Arte Verrocchio was thriving, so we sold her beautiful flat.

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