Laurence Sparey MA RCA RBA

1939 – 2021

It with the deepest sadness that we announce the death of Laurence Sparey in April.

Laurence studied at Hornsey College of Art in the late 50’s and The Royal College of Art from 1960 to 1964. Much of his career has been in education, primarily at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts where he was senior lecturer to the newly approved degree course in silversmithing and metalwork and establishing the ceramics and blacksmithing departments. He became Head of Department for Design Studies from 1985 until 1991 when he retired. Through his work as craftsman, designer and education he fostered a new awareness and appreciation of the qualities and possibilities of metal, the material that was his passion.

Though based on the discipline of silversmithing the course quickly developed to become a wide-ranging experimental and innovative study, focusing on a variety of materials including forged steel, large and small-scale work and both the making of individual pieces and design for batch production. Laurence was an enthusiastic supporter of all aspects of the course and a tireless promoter of metalwork at Camberwell. Throughout this time he continued with his own work and on retirement developed more fully his long-time interest in GRIDS. Most recently he used elements of the grid to form three dimensional structures.

Laurence said “My method of working is to start with basic grid and experiment with variations, for instance by changing the grid intervals, changing the weight and/or direction of a line or by introducing layers within grids or superimposing one grid on another. I also introduce random element to the procedure by selecting variation in length, colour and/or angle by the throw of dice. This is not an ‘expressive’ method but mechanical to begin with and is considered successful if it generates enough complexity to hold the attention of the viewer. One intention is to build in unexpected conjunctions”.

Laurence has exhibited at Oxford Gallery, the Contemporary Applied Arts Gallery and the Arnolfini Gallery and his jewellery has been shown in the V&A London. His work has appeared in various publications including the Design Magazine and the Craft Magazine and his work is held in the collections of West Midlands Arts, North West Arts and the Manchester Polytechnic Collection. In 1991 he was made a Freeman of the City of London and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. In 2007 he was elected a member of The Royal Society of British Artists.

Laurence was a beautiful encouraging gentle presence who imbued positive qualities and inspiration. His impact runs deep in the lives of all who knew him and will be so greatly missed especially by his wife, children, grandchildren and friends. We will never forget him.

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Laurence Sparey MA RCA RBA