A Conversation ~ Paris
PR: It was before the war, before I went to art school and after I left school.
I suppose, in a way, you could say I was privileged to have this opportunity. My parents sent me to Paris, and I stayed in a pensione with six other girls-Canadians and Americans. It was a pensione, and I was to learn to speak perfect French and forget my français, my French-Canadian. We studied history of art and saw museums and really got to know all the beautiful places in Paris.
It was really was a wonderful experience. At the same time, because I was painting, I had some painting lessons from a woman teacher at the beginning, the first half of the winter that I was there. She decided that I should go on to someone more qualified, which was amazing, because I went and worked and studied drawing with a sculptor whose name was Muguet and he was a pupil of Bordelle’s.
They were the most wonderful drawing lessons. First of all, they were all in French, so I learned all the bones and anatomy in French, but we had to draw very large drawings-almost life size-so that you had to stand on your stool to reach the head, and then get down again to do the feet. You had to get the whole thing on these huge sheets of paper, and he would come over and he would talk about les ouefs and the different parts of the anatomy in French.
I was just absolutely in seventh heaven. I just loved those sessions, in his atelier, in his studio, with his sculptures around him and other French students. I went with a Norwegian girl, who was at the same pensione as I was. I learned an enormous amount from him. I was very, very fortunate to have that opportunity. That was through the winter months, in Paris.
SARA: How did that experience inform your work in later years?
PR: Well, it certainly taught me to look, and it certainly taught me-it was instilled me, anyway, from day one-that drawing was important, that you’ve got to walk before you can run and that you really must be able to draw. So I’ve done an awful lot of drawing in my lifetime; that was the beginning of it.