In 1949 my father, the sculptor Denis Mitchell, began working for Barbara Hepworth, who at the time was married to Ben Nicholson. He had already known Ben for a number of years. The latter had made two doll’s houses, both furnished, one for each of his daughters, Sarah and Rachel – I don’t know what he made for Simon, the third of the triplets. By 1949, they had grown out of them, so he thought they would make a nice gift for me and my younger sister, Denise (who, as it happens, now works for Tate St Ives).

Denise and I had many hours of pleasure playing with them. As well as being furnished, I seem to recall that the rooms were wallpapered. Ben brought them to our house in St Ives. My memory is of a small man who wore a white cap. I also remember my mother asking him to stay for meals. I don’t recall what she offered him – it was usually spaghetti, although I’m sure she could cook other dishes, but he would always insist on kippers. I thought he was quite fussy. Sometimes he stayed and played with the two of us for a while. Later we came to have his cat, called Bottlebrush after the style of its tail.

As a nine-year-old girl, I wasn’t that conscious of my father’s friends being artists – almost all of them were. I wasn’t aware whether they were well known or not, either. If they had been film stars, I may have taken more notice.