Sunday, January 18, 2009

TV Artist Tony Hart Dies aged 83

Just recently, following the deaths of Patrick McGoohan and Dai Llewellyn, I referred to the world being a slightly less colorful place. Hearing the news today of the death of Tony Hart at the age of 83, brings that phrase to mind again, quite literally this time.

When asking most people for the name of artists, TV artists Rolf Harris and Tony Hart are most likely to be mentioned. Tony was best known for his role on children's show Vision On and later in his own series Take Hart and Hartbeat. He was well known for inviting viewers to send in their own artwork, and some of his methods were employed by school art departments. Most people will also remember him in association with Morph, an early creation of Aardman Animations, who appeared on Take Hart, getting in the way of Tony's art projects. In fact, Tony wrote what amounted to an Obituary for Morph, when Aardman Animations' storage warehouse was destroyed by fire in 2005.

Unable to join the Air Force when he left school because of poor eyesight, he went to India to join the Gurkhas. Always having a love of art, after finishing his service, he went to art school. A chance meeting with a TV producer at a party, drawing a fish on a napkin, led to his employment in TV, where he worked until his retirement in 2001. He would work in his Garden studio "until 4pm when I would change my shoes and set forth on a four-mile Gurkha-pace jog through the Surrey hills".

He continued to work on his art until two strokes resulted in him not being able to use his hands. He said "Not being able to draw is the greatest cross that I have to bear, for it has been my lifetime passion. But I endeavour to stay cheerful, as there is nothing to be done about my condition." Even though unable to sign autographs, he frequently made public appearances.

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