the sirens screamed in London during the Second World War, we headed underground
for the deep shelters to avoid German bombs. To escape the dangers in
1944, my father sent me as a 3 year old child to live with a carpenter
in the countryside until the end of the war.
The carpenter had a hobby of making model ocean liners. One of them, a
majestically long vessel filled his small parlour. When he carved the
complex wood pieces, I crouched beside the liner and rolled marbles along
the enclosed decks and into the maze of its inner chambers. Mr. Page and
his wife were a childless couple and became very attached to me. When
my parents came to collect me at the end of the war, Mrs Page was devastated
and had a nervous breakdown.
In 1964, I immigrated to Mexico after receiving an architecture degree
cum laude in London from the Architectural Association. For the next
sixteen years I designed department stores, schools and homes and produced
low-cost furniture. My architectural models were important for clients
to decide whether to make the projects possible.
In Mexico I used to paint and had exhibitions, but I found that wood
does not answer back in the way canvas does. Canvas loses its life very
easily. You can work on wood indefinitely, strip it down and start all
Fifty eight years later in California, that model wartime liner is still
there to haunt my art.