Arts: From the Archives: The Birth of the Euston Road Group

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The artist Victor Pasmore (right) recalls William Coldstream painting the first Euston Road picture

BILL [COLDSTREAM] really did have a revolt against the whole modern movement ... He used to come up to me and say, "I'm fed up with this film business". "Well," I said. "Why don't you start painting again?" ... The problem was, where to start? I said, "You can't go back to that pure brushstroke." You can't go back to that ... So I said, "Let's paint each other's portraits".

We tossed up who would start. Bill won the toss, so he started. After about 20 minutes, we got a bit tired and decided to have a ... look at what he was doing. He produced a dreadful sort of third-rate Sargent. We both agreed there was no future in that!

So we agreed to try again next weekend. Bill turned up with a ruler and plumbline. Instead of starting as one usually does - do the outline of the head and shove in the eyes and mouth - he started with the eye and measured the distance between that and the next eye and down the nose, and marked all this. A completely photographic, objective way of doing it. We agreed it was a bit grim. But ... at least there was something concrete here. That was the first Euston Road picture. Recording: Mel Gooding, chair of `Artists' Lives' advisory committee