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Harry Thubron Biography

Harry Thubron (1915–1985) was an English artist and art teacher.

During the 1950s and 60s Thubron was a familiar name in education for his pioneering experiments in post-school art education. He taught at Sunderland College of Art from 1950 to 1955, and then became Head of Fine Art at Leeds College of Art. During his ten year tenure in Leeds he helped to revolutionise art education in England by establishing the Basic Design Course, a programme inspired by the German Bauhaus college and the theoretical writings of Herbert Read. In this programme, art and design students were not taught specific skills for any of the disciplines of art and design, but visual literacy in the use of colour, establishment of form and construction of space. Out of this, and similar experiments undertaken by Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton at Kings College Newcastle, a new introductory course for art, design and architecture students emerged, called the Foundation Course,[1] which went on to became the standard degree course-entry qualification for art, design and architecture students in many countries, including Britain, Ireland, Canada and elsewhere.

At Leeds Thubron also established close links between the art college and the School of Fine Art at the University of Leeds, which allowed the University’s Gregory Fellows in Fine Art to start teaching at Leeds College of Art. He also helped to create a prototype for Britain’s Polytechnics by sending his students to work on collaborative projects with engineering students from Leeds College of Technology, out of which Leeds Polytechnic was formed.[2] This was also a time when Thubron organised a series of summer schools in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, through which his ideas on art education were shared with artists, art teachers and art students from all over the country, thereby spreading his philosophy.

Thubron’s own artwork often comprises constructions made from various materials, often industrial in origin. In terms of art his philosophy was that art could be made from anything, but it was always a visual phenomenon and not a conceptual illustration.

In 1965 Thubron left Leeds and became Head of Fine Art in Lancaster, Lancashire, although he only held this post for three years due to increasing ill health. He still continued some teaching after this, as a part time tutor at Goldsmiths’ College, London, between 1971 and 1982.

Notable students of Thubron include Stass Paraskos, who went on to establish the Cyprus College of Art, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus using Thurbon’s theories, and this institution still exists as a “Thubronite” art institution today.

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