Tony Collinge RIP

Tony Collinge, talented artist and distinguished teacher at Goldsmiths art school in London, was elected to the London Group in 1998. He served on its various committees and helped to hang exhibitions, which he was exceptionally good at.

Tony was born In Runcorn, Cheshire, in 1934, the son of the industrial designer, Arthur Collinge. Arthur strongly encouraged his son to make things and so Tony developed a childhood passion for designing and making puppet shows.

After studying at Liverpool School of Art and the Slade, Tony began teaching art; at Catford Boys School, Canterbury College of Art and LCP his innovative teaching methods landed him a job at Goldsmiths’ postgraduate Art Teachers’ Certificate course, known as the ATC. The ATC was the only course of its type in the country where the making and teaching of art was regarded as indivisible. Tony was in his element and he brought in many visiting tutors including Lindsay Kemp, Nell Dunn, Yoko Ono to, as he put it, “stir things up.” Those of us fortunate to be his students, could never describe the course as dull. One of his innovations was an improvised street theatre group “Further Granulated Advice”. Later Tony became head of Goldsmiths’ Art Education Department where he developed joint degrees in Art and Dance, and Art and Art History. He retired in 1985, but continued teaching at Goldsmiths part time for another 10 years.

Some 52 years ago in an avant-garde book shop on Charing Cross Road, Tony met Charles, who was working there between university and art school. Charles was to become Tony’s life partner. They shared great passion for art, food and travel. In 1980 they moved to Suffolk which allowed Tony the space and time to concentrate again on his art. He worked consistently in his studio moving into collage and then three-dimensional constructions based around complex reflections and colour inter-reactions both behind and on glass. He exhibited regularly with the London Group.

Tony was highly creative and serious in his endeavours. From his mother, he inherited an earthy, often scurrilous sense of northern humour and from his father a work ethic and an attention to quality and detail. Although he could be forthright and did not suffer fools gladly, Tony always had great integrity. Above everything he showed kindness and thought for others, not characteristics always associated with committed artists. It was these that made Tony Collinge an exceptional teacher as well as an artist.

Vaughan Grylls