OBITUARY : Keith Ingham
Friday 26 May 1995
Although at present the achievements of the 1950s and early 1960s are still very much undervalued, this was a time of tremendous optimism and commitment in the field of architecture and the applied arts, a time when architects and designers genuinely believed that they were engaged in building a better world. Through his work at Building Design Partnership, Ingham played an important part in this movement, and it was apparent to all who met him that this spirit of idealism continued to sustain and motivate him in his later career, setting him apart from younger colleagues trained in an era of greater cynicism and scepticism.
As Alan Powers pointed out, Keith Ingham retained a lifelong affection for the Modern Movement in its purest form. Having been born in 1932, however, Ingham himself was a second-generation Modernist rather than a first-generation pioneer, but it was young architects of the early post- war years such as he who benefited from the flowering of Modernism during the 1950s in the more relaxed guise of "Contemporary" design. The experience of working with the multi-talented architect and designer Tom Mellor during the mid-1950s when Ingham was at a formative stage in his early career, clearly made a deep impression on him. At this time Mellor was the Design Consultant for the progressive Lancashire textile firm David Whitehead, and it was he who was responsible for bringing modern art to the masses in the form of artist-designed "contemporary" furnishing fabrics. This crossover between art, architecture and the applied arts clearly appealed to Ingham, and he was also influenced by Mellor's meticulous attention to detail, a hallmark of good design in the 1950s.
Ingham fondly remembered his time with Mellor, and also the period when he ran the family business in Lytham, a tableware shop selling the latest in pottery and glass in the sleek, clean-lined Scandinavian Modern style. In his re-design for the shop he brought art and architecture together through the inclusion of a mosaic by Claude Harrison.
Keith Ingham's last initiative as a committee member of the Twentieth Century Society (the architectural preservation group which grew out of the earlier Thirties Society) was to suggest that there should be a Society visit to Farnley Hey, a masterpiece of "contemporary" domestic architecture designed by Peter Womersley in West Yorkshire in 1953.
This visit will still go ahead in October of this year. And it is hoped that a special memorial event, involving visits to buildings designed by Keith Ingham in the North-West, will be arranged at a later date.
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