Friday, June 10, 2011

tom porter

I received a text message from Hannah earlier today querying if one my college lecturers had been a bloke called Tom Porter… if so, she’d just discovered that he and his wife had lived next door to our good friends Tony+Sue (parents of Hannah’s bestest friend, Hannah!).… but that Tom had sadly died in April last year (aged 72). I think it’s highly significant that one of my daughters had remembered the name of one of my college tutors. Indeed, I had talked about Tom only a couple of days ago when lovely friends Chris and Felicity friends had visited us in Bristol. Tom was an absolutely inspirational figure to me. I arrived at Oxford School of Architecture in 1967 and, frankly, while having a pretty good eye for design, I was probably a student who might have been prone to “play safe”. Art was an important part of the architectural course for the first two years (I very much doubt this is the case these days, more’s the pity) and, for me - through Tom, it provided a wonderful springboard for my architectural career (significantly, I won the “most improved student award at the end of my second year”). I recall a poster I designed for the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (thanks to Tom’s encouragement); I remember him insisting that I went to see the film “2001, A Space Odyssey”; how he introduced me to the new Habitat store; and I certainly remember accompanying him to the Bauhaus Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1968. As well as producing books on graphic techniques (in conjunction with my college friend Sue Goodman), Tom’s main interest was in the use of colour in architecture. I clearly remember one of the students having an epileptic fit during one of Tom’s art sessions; Tom seemed only mildly concerned – his key reaction was all about how amazing it was that the student concerned had become SO involved in his artwork that it had resulted in his fit!
I love this photograph of Tom – it was definitely taken in the late 60s/early 70s – and is exactly as I remember him (always wearing a brightly-colour tie, loud jacket and with his flowing dark locks!).
A truly inspirational man and someone I remember with huge affection and gratitude.

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