Anthony Dyson obituary
My friend and former colleague Anthony Dyson, who has died at the age of 91, was an artist, master printer, art historian and teacher. He acquired and applied an extraordinary range of skills and depth of knowledge that spanned the disciplines of art and education. In each discipline his contributions advanced both theory and practice, yet he wore his scholarship and practical skills lightly, and shared them generously.
After studying printmaking at Blackburn School of Art, he trained as a teacher at Leeds College of Art. He taught art in schools and later in colleges of education while studying part-time for a degree in art history at Birkbeck College and later for a PhD at the Courtauld Institute, before joining the staff of the department of art and design at the University of London, Institute of Education (IoE).
In the 1970s, and living in Teddington, Middlesex, Tony led the first subject-specific MA course at the IoE for art and design teachers, which rapidly gained a national and international reputation. Over the years he supervised many PhD students, and strengthened the IoE’s reputation for doctoral research within the field of art and design education. Through his own research, writing and teaching he had a major influence on the development of the critical, contextual and historical studies dimension of the art and design curriculum for schools.
After retiring from his full-time academic post at the IoE in 1987, he set up the Black Star Press in a studio attached to his house in Teddington, and embarked on a new career as a master printer. This he combined with making his own prints, and exhibiting and writing about printmaking and its history. He also served as vice-president of the prestigious Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, having been a fellow for 29 years. As a visiting lecturer at the IoE he continued to share his valued expertise with colleagues and students in the department of art and design. In 2006-07 he had two much-celebrated exhibitions of his prints and drawings in France, near his house in the Loire valley. He finally stopped working as a printmaker in his late 80s due to declining health.
Born in Leeds, to Agnes (nee Bruls), a Belgian, who became a school secretary, and Alexander Dyson, a headmaster, Tony went to St Michael’s college in Leeds and then to St Mary’s college in Blackburn, where he met his future wife, Norma (nee Noblet). They married in 1955 and had five children, Margaret, Jacqueline, Paula, Christopher and Joseph.
Tony was a modest, principled and courteous man. Throughout his long and creative life he adhered to a fundamental guiding principle: how you do anything is how you do everything. He will be fondly remembered by successive generations of colleagues and students for his generosity of spirit, as a maker of exquisite etchings and as an inspiring teacher.
Tony’s daughter Paula predeceased him. He is survived by Norma and their four other children, and by 13 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.