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News > Annoucements > ROBINSON, Malcolm


You are warmly invited to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Malcolm Robinson who we sadly lost in 2023.
17 Apr 2024
Written by Tara Biddle

The following obituary was written by Richard Kitchen (WW 71-76)

I wrote a short piece about Malcolm for The Tonbridgian in 1976, when he left the School after five years to become Director of Art at Cranleigh. It's sad now to be writing a more permanent farewell.

I knew him for all of those years, first as my teacher, then in the stage crew and the Film Society. Malcolm inspired dedication in his students, his team of projectionists, and the dogged band of would-be film makers who met on Friday afternoons at The Elms.

My 18-year-old self hailed him as a cheerful and helpful authority who would never impose his ideas on someone else's work. He guided his students with sensitivity, calm and understanding - even when one of them cut part of his thumb off (his own, not Malcolm’s). That applied across the board, from lower school and O/A Level Art students to the stage sets which complemented perfectly the high standards of drama performance and production.

He disliked pretension and I remember admiring his music collection with the stringent critical appreciation of a picky adolescent. The Elms would shake to Verdi’s Dies Irae and we film makers would shake with laughter creating an impromptu ballet for the camera. On a reel-to-reel tape recorder I first heard the dusty sound of early Bob Dylan and was forever enchanted.

Malcolm was, of course, an artist as well as/as much as a teacher, and his works are in private collections in the UK, the US, Japan and Mexico. I vividly remember a large work of his that viewed the world though a set of gridlines: a powerful motif he was still exploring over forty years later.

He moved to the US in 1984, where the academic and enthusiast in him produced a fine book, The American Vision: Landscape Paintings of the United States, in 1988. We kept in touch as friends and I last met him in June 2018, when he visited London having recently retired as Principal of the Banff School in Houston, Texas. He had retained his delightful sense of the absurd, and we had to abandon the Rothko room at the Tate Modern before its reverent hush was broken by giggles.

Malcolm was diagnosed with Parkinson's soon after his London trip and he died on 30th December 2023 in the care of his brother John and sister-in-law Tamara, just as Malcolm himself had previously cared for his ailing mother. R.I.P. Mr Robinson.

(CR 71-76)

A memorial service will be held at St. Cuthbert and St. Bede Orthodox Church in Durham on Thursday 4 July at 1.00pm, followed by refreshments and reminiscences. Those wishing to attend should please email Richard Kitchen (WW 71-76) c/o by the end of June.


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