William Mitchell

February 12, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

It is with huge sadness that I have to write that my good friend William Mitchell is no longer with us, having passed away recently at his home in Cumbria.

Bill was a singularly creative and endlessly entertaining man who I was lucky enough to get to know through this very blog.

One of my very early posts from April 2011, followed a trip to Liverpool where I witnessed the wonders that are the doors to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. After posting my piece, I got a message from Bill thanking me for the kind words and asking if he could use my photo of one of the figures from the doors. I said of course, told him how I thrilled I was to hear from him and that I thought more people should know about his wonderful work.. A couple of Mitchell themed posts later, we met up and became friends.

I had the great privilege to help Bill and his lovely wife Joy with his autobiography William Mitchell – The Eyes Within…, taming the massive and unruly 400Mb+ Word document with embedded images they had been wrestling with for a number of years into a more manageable InDesign version with text and images formatted to resemble the book they had in mind… The photo Bill originally asked if he could use (to the right) became the inspiration for the book cover.

In the nine or so years I have known Bill, his work has quite rightly become more widely known and better appreciated. The photo at the head of this post is of Bill winning the 2014 Creativity in Concrete Award, and his work was featured heavily in the Out There : Post War Public Art exhibition at Somerset House in 2016.  His enthusiasm, knowledge of and technical ability with, a staggering range of materials, resulted in an impressive variety of sculptures and murals that can still be found all over the world (despite a significant number of them having been lost due to demolition).

Bill Mitchell’s place in the lists of the great British artists of the Twentieth Century whilst not yet assured, is certainly looking more and more likely. Without doubt in my book, he has every right to be up there with the likes of Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Paolozzi and Anthony Caro, the only difference I can see is that Bill’s work adorned community spaces and community buildings rather than walls of art galleries.

Rest in Peace Bill, you will be missed.

  1. Martin Clarke
    February 12, 2020 at 19:35

    Very sad news to read of Bill’s passing. I cannot say I knew him well, but enjoyed a brief time with him and Joy to talk about his life’s work and get his agreement to the Creativity in Concrete award nomination. He was a giant of his time, with the Joe Blogs blog and friendship playing a great role in keeping the flame alive, often against the odds. I would have loved to see him at work but never did. Perhaps as Joe Blogs says he will now get proper recognition. The ‘stations of the cross’ murals in Clifton Cathedral are close to where I live and are a constant reminder of his pioneering and beautiful work.
    Martin Clarke

  2. February 13, 2020 at 17:28

    Sad news, but what a fantastic legacy, and wonderful that he lived long enough to see the growing revival of appreciation of his work. I wonder if some of his works will indeed start finding their way into gallery collections now, as one of the options for preserving them.

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