Farewell, Tony, and thanks.I know that this week we are apparently about to realise hopeful times of change - and will you please stop baracking at the back - but the death has been reported of Tony Hart at the age of 83.Although this is of particular significance to British children, or rather the adults we've become, millions worldwide may not know how much he's influenced them.You see, way back in the early days of television broadcasting, children were expected to be educated as well as entertained. We weren't subjected to constant advertorial interruptions, nor, therefore, did we have short attention spans which we tried to manage with our remote controls.Tony was an artist, not one who sold fashionably marinated cows for zillions, but one who enthused generations of children to use the materials to hand such as everyday household items; a plastic washing up liquid bottle could become a space rocket or a lighthouse, a drinking straw could turn that bottle into a paint sprayer useful for silhouettes. You could stick bits of string and other stuff onto scrap paper to make relief pictures.He encouraged us to use our imaginations, and I for one remain very grateful. In fact, as a qualified primary school teacher, apart from sports I also specialised in art. I suspect that graffiti artist Bankssy was a regular viewer too. And I wonder if community workers liaising with scavenger groups here and elsewhere have felt the ripples of his influence: take note of the numbers of mothers who earn extra cash by sewing discarded tetrapacks into pencil cases and other useful knick-knacks.And take a long look at the plasticine figure of Morph above, with whom Tony would engage in animated conversation. He (it?) was the progenitor of all the wonderful Aardman films and TV shorts: Wallace and Grommit, Shawn of the Sheep.
Tony was a gentle tutor and he will be fondly remembered for years to come.
In his honour, a petition
has been set up to get a room in London's National Gallery set aside to carry on the great man's legacy of educating and inspiring the children of the UK in art and media.