Obituary: Barry Prothero

Barry Prothero was a committed fighter for gay liberation and an innovative curator, who helped set up and direct the Angel Row Gallery for Nottinghamshire County Council.

After university in his native Australia, Prothero worked in art galleries, which spurred him towards further study at Sydney University, where he specialised in the history of art. A brilliant student, he was awarded a government scholarship to attend the Warburg Institute in London, and in 1977 spent six months in Italy practising the language and studying art at first hand before moving to London.

Excited by London's cultural and political activity, Prothero found the atmosphere of the Warburg too conservative, and transferred to the more liberal Courtauld Institute, though his request to write about David Hockney was turned down on the grounds that "there was nothing to say". Later he threw himself into gay politics, and was an active member of the Gay Activist Alliance, taking part in campaigns to "zap" W.H. Smith's shops for their refusal to sell Gay News, and picketing British Home Stores for sacking a gay worker, Tony Whitehead.

In 1980 Prothero became the first gay rights officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties. Here he contributed to publications on employment rights and initiated campaigns to raise the issue of transsexuals, getting the case of April Ashley taken up by the European Court of Human Rights.

He then moved briefly to the Lesbian and Gay Centre, the brainchild of the Greater London Council, before returning to his first love as visual arts officer for Nottingham County Council and moving to Nottingham. Determined that the city should have a gallery devoted to contemporary work, he persuaded the council to set up the elegant and spacious Angel Row Gallery in a prime city- centre site. He devised a wide-ranging programme which included work by artists such as Alison Wilding and John Keane as well as exhibitions of fine crafts. A major success was to commission Helen Chadwick to cast her sculptural pieces Piss Flowers (1994) for a spectacular show which subsequently toured to the Serpentine Gallery in London. Prothero's confidence, knowledge and inter-personal skills calmed the anxieties of local counsellors about work which carried an element of sensationalism. Among other thought- provoking exhibitions were installations by Susan Trangmar and Duncan Higgins which were visual responses to coal mining, an industry which had dominated the area for nearly 200 years.

Two years ago increasing ill-health led Prothero to take early retirement and he returned to London. Earlier this year his long-time partner, Tim Lunn, died, leaving him bereft. Despite failing health (he died of an Aids-related illness) he continued to pursue the interests which throughout his life had given him pleasure notably music, the visual arts and theatre.

Slight in stature, with chiselled features and curly black hair, Barry Prothero brought to his work not only Byronic good looks, but an intellectual rigour, a lively imagination and, most usefully, a wicked wit.

Barry Graeme Prothero, curator: born Perth, Australia 28 May 1945; died London 26 November 1996.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform