David Bomberg: A Family Portrait

David Bomberg: A Family Portrait


I knew him very well as a child because
when I was very young I actually lived with them both in the
studio. As a very tiny child we went to Wales at the last year of the war and we camped with him. I can remember him painting there and all the children
would be running around playing. I wasn’t one of those children who rush around
everywhere so I got on quite well with him. You know, I used to stand and
watch. He was, well, he was a real mixture. I mean, he was completely dedicated to
his art so things tended to come secondary to that. I remember warmth but
also he could be quite irascible. I mostly remember him as this person who
was always painting. I thought he was a very strange man. Of course it was in his,
it was at the time of him being very rejected. And also I remember quite a lot
about him when he was teaching because he used to have the students round at my
mother’s house and I would kind of sit in and people like Auerbach and Kossoff, and Roy Oxlade and all these people here in the exhibition then would
come to the house and I’d be this sort of like I’d be sitting there listening
to them talking about art, you know. It was a quite a magical world, you
know, that they they were in. To me, had I known him as an adult it would have been
wonderful. I could have talked to him and my mother had such a wonderful
relationship with him that I would have been able to have that but all I had was
this, you know, the uncle David, the little girl thing. I think the overall sense of
him and the whole sort of milieu when I was a child was that art was important
and serious and difficult because he never had
much recognition in his life. He was always fighting the establishment and I
was very much aware of that side of things. I think he expected the world to
come to him and understand him. I think he was just angry that he had to
justify his existence rather than having people just kind of accept what he had
to offer, which was extraordinary. If you look at this, it’s extraordinary. He was a
very wise man and my mother, you see, she said that that he gave her a new vision
of life. I remember the first big exhibition which was the Arts Council exhibition. Well, I couldn’t believe it when people said to me, “Oh, I
know your name. Your name is in the Tate Gallery!” People brought in pamphlets
and I thought, oh my god. I mean, I knew he was well-known but among the art people. And also this is where I want to plug my grandmother because she was extraordinary. She decided that he had to be recognised and she started going
round and the museum galleries. I went with her a couple of times and she
just made appointments to the curators of the galleries and stormed in and said, “You’ve got to recognise David Bomberg, he’s one of
the best artists we’ve got in this country!” She was actually very
persuasive so she did actually set the ball rolling, I think.

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