Ivan Price obituary

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My father, Ivan Price, who has died aged 94, was a cultural polymath and campaigner, and for 60 years a focus for creativity and education in his community in the Potteries.

Ivan was born into a working-class family of Welsh and Scottish heritage in Stoke-on-Trent. His mother, Jane (known as Jinnie, nee Davies), worked pressing quarry tiles and his father, William Price, firing them. Music infused the family, with part-singing in chapel, ceilidhs at Hogmanay and lessons on an upright piano. In 1940, during the second world war, a bomb narrowly missed their terrace house, where they were sheltering under the table.

When his father was injured and lost his job in 1941, Ivan left Wolstanton grammar school at the age of 14 to work at Wedgwood, where he developed a love for ceramics. He then entered national service as a Bevin Boy, where shifts down the pit were followed by three hours practising the piano (he gained an ATCL – Associate of Trinity College London). He met Mavis Elizabeth Perkins (later known as Beth) at this time at a local youth group for drama, music and literature. They married in 1947.

Ivan then undertook teacher training at Dudley College (1948-50), teaching music, and later also art, at Halmer End secondary modern (now Sir Thomas Boughey Academy). In the early 1970s he gained an Open University humanities degree and in 1981 an MA in visual language in the curriculum by Keele University.

A prolific painter, sculptor in wood and stone, potter, and furniture designer and maker, Ivan also played the piano, lute and folk guitar, and formed an Elizabethan madrigal group. As well as teaching, he wrote and produced a children’s opera, and ran the Audley and Halmer End Evening Institute, an early example of lifelong learning.

In 1963, Ivan and Beth bought an end-of-terrace house in the mining village of Bignall End, near Audley, in Staffordshire. For the next six decades it became the focus of Ivan’s creative projects as he remodelled the house according to 60s ideals of light and space, filling it with murals, furniture, ceramics, art and sculpture, and planting a garden oasis of trees and shrubs. A creative community evolved, with regular evenings devoted to political and philosophical discussion, live music and readings, with members such as Alan May, who made boats, harpsichords and lutes, and a modern reconstruction of the Gutenberg press.

A true localist, Ivan led campaigns to protect the green belt and to plant trees, was a member of Staffordshire Artists, and exhibited in Stoke and Keele.

Beth died in 2012 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and his daughter Jan died in 2020 of motor neurone disease. Ivan is survived by two children, Bronwen and me, and four grandchildren, Jacob, Lucas, Ben and Dan.