Alan Smith obituary | Art

My father, Alan Smith, who died of a heart attack at the age of 81, was an artist, designer and bon vivant in the heart of the London swinging scene of the 1960s, before embarking on a career in the artistic education that resulted in him. becoming Principal of Bradford Art College.

It was while at Goldsmiths College in south-east London studying fine art in the early 1960s that Alan became part of a bohemian scene of artists, publishers and poets drinking in pubs around Bloomsbury. Alan took on the role of chauffeur for Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh during his stay in London.

He designed book jackets for publishers Sidgwick & Jackson and the fabric used for a dress worn in the 1967 film The Jokers, starring Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford. Oliver and my dad became drinking buddies, and my brother Ollie is named after the actor. He also designed a 45ft tall caricature of Ted Heath for John Lennon’s 1971 exhibition at Alexandra Palace in north London, and helped define the look of the band Genesis, creating trippy posters, sets and merchandise for their 1972 UK tour.

Born in Bootle, Merseyside, to Flo Gerrard, a carpenter, and Fred Smith, a film projectionist then electrician, Alan was the first in his family to succeed aged 11+, attending St Bede’s High School in Bradford, and the first to go to university, at what is now Goldsmiths, the University of London. He would make it his life’s work to encourage others to transform their lives, regardless of background.

After graduating in 1962, he did voluntary service overseas, including a project where he drove a Land Rover overland to Mali.

Alan Smith designed the fabric used for Lotte Tarp’s dress in the 1967 film The Jokers, starring Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford

In 1968 Alan got his first lecturer role at West Sussex College of Design. This was followed by visiting and personal lectureships at the Harlow School of Art, London College of Printing and Winchester School of Art.

Meanwhile, in 1970 he had bought a semi-derelict farmhouse high up in the Pennines and over the years had turned it into a fabulous house and garden, the scene of many parties.

He taught at the Halifax School of Art (1972-74), Cleveland College of Art and Design (1977-79) and Huddersfield Polytechnic (1979-84), in addition to working as a graphic designer for North Yorkshire County Council (1976-77). ), and as an academic advisor for BTec from 1988. In the same year, he was appointed principal of Bradford Art College, where his contemporary David Hockney had studied. He left that position in 2001 to become a founding partner of Kendall Smith Design.

In 2013, Alan came out of retirement to lead the IMS Design and Innovation Academy in Noida, India. However, he resigned in protest just over a year later, after a dispute over unpaid wages.

Alan loved food and drink, and music from Puccini to Prince Buster. He was married twice, first to Lesley Rogers, a television producer, with whom he had two sons, Hugo and me, then to Bev Kendall, a textile designer, with whom he had three sons, Alexander , Oliver and Sholto. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Alan is survived by his children and five grandchildren, Niamh, Binks, Gus, Oscar and Milo.

Comments are closed.