Anthony Heywood (1952 - 2022) R.I.P.
Life can be cruel and I feel life has been cruel in some ways and certainly towards the end for a dear personal friend, Anthony Heywood, a friend and supporter of The Margate School. Anthony passed away on 31 March 2022 after battling with a serious illness for a number of years, something he would not talk about except his family and closest friends. But that was Anthony, an artist, a sculptor, a teacher, who, as he would always say, operated in the margins, unassuming and gentle yet physically a towering figure, easily pushed into the margins by those more concerned with self progression and power, easily humiliated and pushed into a place where Anthony was already undertaking his work. His work would be a mirror to that cruel, arrogant and thoughtless world, where the margins feel uncomfortable and don’t fit.
Growing up by the Tyne and Wear, Anthony was influenced by the ship building yards, the idea that huge objects like big steel ships could float and behave differently when in a different natural environment fascinated him. He graduated in 1974 from Northumbria University, having specialised in sculpture and printmaking being influenced by artists such as Anthony Caro and David Nash. Eventually he moved to Canterbury practicing and collaborating with the late Stass Paraskos, the then Head of FA at KIAD Canterbury, contributing to the establishment of the Cyprus College of Art, its utilities studios and resource, as well as ‘the Great Wall of Lemba’ which he initiated with Stass. Since then Anthony has exhibited his sculpture work internationally including Australia, France, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden.
I first met Anthony in 2006 in connection with Kent’s preparations for the Cultural Olympiad. Out of these discussions came our first collaborative project, an AHRC impact research project together with Liverpool University which resulted in an unusual Arts Impact conference, Wild Flower Project, but for the first time it brought together social science and arts practice methodologies, an experiment Anthony immediately embraced and supported. We found our ‘playground’ and from now on would be the basis for numerous discussions, ideas and critical observation of our context and self-reflection, the centre and the margins. It was on a train journey to Liverpool that we started to develop ideas around a sculptural intervention that would embrace these various elements, discussions around research methods, audiences, communities, socio-economic and political contexts, the role of monumental sculpture. Eventually, Anthony proposed to base this collaboration on Brancusi’s Table of Silence, which became the series of monumental tables Tabula - Fortis in Pace. The idea was to this monumental round table, made from used timbers (timbers that had a life as Anthony referred to them), signaled communal dialogue and sharing, and that we need to arrive at a point of peace in order to gain strength, inner and outer strength. Back then it was our contribution to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrations in Dover, the last one in the series, similar in size, was part of the Capital of Culture Pafos 2017 celebrations. In parallel we worked together on a EU funded collaborative Anglo-French project, which included instrumental support for an arts research boat based in St Malo. Now, as then, and Anthony would agree, this work is relevant in our culture and political situation as is Anthony’s other work, his elephants, we had the privilege to exhibit one at The Margate School, the Spitfire last exhibited at Dover Western Docks and the Open Hand the first sculpture and still to be viewed at the Great Wall of Lemba near Pafos in Cyprus;
Anthony was a wonderful human being, he was not shy of adventure, retained his dry Geordie humour, hard working (first work and then fun), his observations and comments were sharp and to the point, a great teacher and first and foremost a great innovative sculptor. He would draw and sketch his ideas, a great believer in starting with the marquette before scaling up. He stood for peace, freedom and social justice, something we discussed endlessly, he instinctively knew what fairness meant. In many ways he was like an older brother to me, supportive of my at times strange ideas, encouraged me when necessary or advised caution when I was pushing the boundaries too much. We share much personal stuff but without having to talk about it. A great moment for me was when he sent me a message congratulating me on the raven sculpture I made during lockdown and he included something which no one could have known but his intuition must have told him. We never talked about it. In the end his greatest encouragement was when I shared with him the idea of The Margate School. He immediately offered to teach at the School, which he then did. I could always call him to let off steam, he always had time for what I had to say, even when his health dramatically deteriorated in the last few weeks. His legacy will remain with us here at and in the School and elsewhere, with the many students and people he and his work touched. Anthony Heywood (1952 - 2022) R.I.P.
Words by Uwe Derksen.
1. Canterbury 2012, Tabula - Fortis in Pace
2. Visit to ESAHDaR Rouen with the first cohort of MA FA students, tutors and supporters, 2019.
3. When the Wind Blows exhibition at The Margate School in 2019
4. Pafos 2016
5. Pafos 2016 Tabula - Fortis in Pace
6. Pafos 2016, Tabula - Fortis in Pace
7. Pafos 2016, Tabula - Fortis in Pace
8. The B.O.A.T. art research boat, St Malo, 2015
9. Lemba, 2015
10. Great Wall of Lemba, 2015
11. Pafos HQ Capital of Culture, 2015
12. Pafos HQ Capital of Culture, 2015
13. Installation of Dove of Peace at Dover Western Docks, 2015