"This is the commencement of a recording made by Cliff Holden on December 12, 1992. It is my birthday and I am 73 years old."
It is now seven years since I made the first of the recordings which have been transcribed and edited to make the text of this book. I was persuaded to make these recordings by my friend the art historian, Joseph Darracott. We had been friends for over forty years and finally I accepted that the project which he was proposing might be feasible and would be worth attempting. And so, in talking about my life as a painter, I applied myself to the discipline of working from a list of questions which had been prepared by Joseph. During our initial discussions about the book Joseph misunderstood my idea, which was to engage in a live dialogue with the cut and thrust of question and answer. The task of responding to questions which had been typed up in advance became much more difficult to deal with because an exercise such as this lacked the kind of stimulus which a live dialogue would have given to it. Sadly Joseph died before he could see the book completed but it was entirely due to his initiative and his encouragement that the book came to be written at all.
I have no scholastic ambitions and I had hoped to present the material from the transcriptions without too many alterations. However, in adjusting the spoken word to the printed word a certain amount of editing was necessary and while I have left in place many repetitions which serve to emphasize important points I have also added a number of emendations and amplifications, often in the form of letters, quotations and reviews.
Perhaps I need to say that this book is only biographical in so far as it is concerned with my art life and my ideas. I have talked about my approach to painting, printing and designing and I have discussed the problem of teaching art to students. But I have also wanted to rectify various lies and distortions which have arisen over the years since the disbanding of the Borough Group. As it stands now, this page of history has been written by people who either had no direct access to Bomberg or had little understanding of his intentions.
In the words of David Bomberg: "It is to this page of history that such contributions as I and my followers may make after me through the approach to mass that there should be appended a footnote - and left to posterity to judge whether it was of significance or not."
7th March, 1999
© Cliff Holden
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