excerpt | eileen gray

she is very modest about her work, and seemed surprised that any one should remember her except her individual clients. a few years ago when the royal institute of irish architects had arranged an exhibition of her work in dublin, people had been amazed to see the dates on things that looked as if they were much more modern. she said she got a few letters from irish architects and artists, which pleased her very much, she had them in a little file still called “Irlande” and she hoped that she had remembered to reply to them all.

yes, she had been back to Ireland a few times, but very briefly, and once by chance when she found that a plane was going to stop over there. she decided to get off and go and look at her old home, and she thought she would have again all those lovely feelings of peace and innocence like she had as a child. but it had changed, and nothing was the same. it wasn’t just that everything – the lawns, the fields, the river – were smaller; she knew that would happen. it was all knocked down and built again, in a most unimaginative style. it made her sad. she never went back again.

and she lives in comfort but not in idleness with a marvellous woman called madame dany who is a breton housekeeper/ companion/dragon. madame dany sees that she eats enough and rests enough and doesn’t get weary talking to journalists for too long.

so eileen gray got up and said that she must finish those chairs, because, my dear, I am nearly100 you know, and it would be foolish to think that I will have unlimited time to finish them the way I want them to be.


interviewed by binchy, m. (1976) paris

31 Chapel Lane