my early years
FIFTIES SIXTIES SEVENTIES EIGHTIES NINETIES TODAY HOME

about me

in the 50's
in the 60's
in the 70's
in the 80's
in the 90's
today
afm027.jpg My parents were born in a small village called Zarembi near Warsaw in 1890. They met at school when they were five. My mother's family kept the village shop, and my Grandfather, on my father's side was a Rabbi. My father rebelled against his traditional background and soon after they were married he and my mother came to London. She went, with my eldest sister, back to see my grandparents in Poland before the first world war and they were trapped there for four years. They joined my father in England in 1918. The year after, the family moved to Hull, where my father started his business as a manufacturing furrier. Two more daughters were born, and then in 1930, a fourth daughter — me. I must have been a disappointment.
How lucky that they left when they did, as our relations that were left in Poland were, of course, all killed.
afm029.jpg The Albeck family moved to Anlaby, just outside Hull in 1933. Here my father built his "Dream House", designed and built specially for us. It was Art Deco inside, with a "Stockbroker Tudor" exterior. The house was built in the grounds of Tranby Croft. Our front garden was part of their woods. Tranby Croft was known for the famous Baccarat scandle in 1890 involving the future King Edward VII. My father named the house Mid-Oaks, but I don't think there was a single oak tree in it. The interior of the house was done by a local stage designer.
Later, I married one!
Design has always been a major part of my life. The house in Anlaby made me very aware of decoration and colour. It was different from other houses. In the drawing room,there was a peach coloured mirror. On it was a clock with amber glass squares instead of numbers. The other rooms had abstract murals, I had a stained glass surround to an electric fire in my bedroom. It represented Little Red Riding Hood and was designed and made by students at the Hull Art School. There was a star shaped glass light cut into my sky blue ceiling. The Fabrics and furnishings throughout the house were from Heals and Liberty's and every room had specially designed rugs on polished wooden floors. Other people all seemed to have maroon and cream Regency striped wallpaper and green fitted carpets.
afm002.jpg I remember when the garden was being laid out. There were two beds cut in the shape of new moons and filled with rhododendrons, I remember exactly where each coloured lupin was placed. There was a huge dahlia bed near the kitchen, surrounded with espaliered fruit trees, and a weeping willow near the pond. The greenhouse had lilac in bloom in December, and climbing camelias.
My mother and three sisters were always talking about fashion and interiors, and although we seemed to have very little money, my mother bought designer hats, the prices of which were hidden from my father.
am004.jpg My early art education at school was very design based. We did repeating patterns at the age of seven and much attention was given to calligraphy and design rather than drawing and painting. At home I spent a lot of time making patterns, and colouring paper doylies with crayons. I remember the first set of six small jars of poster paints I was given, with sheets of coloured paper to work on. Art materials were an inspiration then as they are now. Now, if work is going badlly, the first thing I do is buy new paint brushes or pens or a new pan of watercolour. I was nine when the war started and I spent much of my time at home, I discovered then the pleasure of designing while listening to the Home Service on the wireless. Things haven't changed much, the only difference now is, I draw a little better and it's Radio 4, and it's the radio.
My sisters were all academically very clever and went on to University. I was pretty average, so my father arranged with the head of the Art School, that I should receive my further education there. So I spent four happy years at The College of Arts and Crafts in Hull. I was very lucky, because some of the students were ex-servicemen and much cleverer at drawing than the school leavers. We had to work hard to keep up with them. The ambition of all art students at the time was to go on to The Royal College of Art. It was the idea of living in London and working with the best students from all over the country that made the thought so exciting.
Well, I made it, and so starts the 50's
PAGE TOP