Chris Wain­wright, 1955-2017

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Matthew.reisz@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

A univer­sity leader and artist deeply com­mit­ted to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues has died.

Chris Wain­wright was born in March 1955 and spent his early life on a farm in Der­byshire. When he was eight, he and his adop­tive par­ents were evicted, and they moved to Sh­effield. There, he stud­ied for a BA in fine art at Sh­effield Polytech­nic (now Sh­effield Hal­lam Univer­sity), be­fore go­ing on to an MA in graphic de­sign at Birm­ing­ham Polytech­nic (now Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity).

After grad­u­at­ing in 1978, Pro­fes­sor Wain­wright took on a num­ber of short-term teach­ing posts, and in 1981 he was ap­pointed prin­ci­pal lec­turer in the me­dia stud­ies depart­ment at New­cas­tle Polytech­nic (now Northum­bria Univer­sity). Fu­ture­land, a tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion that he put on with John Kip­pin, es­tab­lished his rep­u­ta­tion as a major pho­tog­ra­pher.

In 1992, Pro­fes­sor Wain­wright be­came course leader in fine art at Not­ting­ham Trent Univer­sity, mov­ing on five years later to be­come dean of art at Cen­tral Saint Martins, Univer­sity of the Arts Lon­don. He would later serve as a pro vice-chan­cel­lor at UAL. He also played a wider role in pro­mot­ing his ideas about art ed­u­ca­tion through the Euro­pean League of In­sti­tutes of the Arts.

Through­out his time in se­nior man­age­ment roles, Pro­fes­sor Wain­wright con­tin­ued to de­velop his artis­tic prac­tice. His deep com­mit­ment to com­bat­ing cli­mate change of­ten led him to pro­duce work in ex­treme weather con­di­tions, in one case beam­ing red light on to float­ing ice­bergs in the Arctic. He worked with sur­vivors of Ja­pan’s 2011 tsunami in a group per­for­mance on the shore­line. And at the be­gin­ning of this year, he cu­rated and took part in a joint cross-dis­ci­plinary show at a mu­seum in Bei­jing, What Has to Be Done. The show was based on a sail­ing voy­age made, in four suc­ces­sive years, around the Scot­tish Western Isles by groups of artists, writ­ers, col­lec­tors and film-mak­ers from Europe and China.

Nigel Car­ring­ton, vice-chan­cel­lor of UAL, de­scribed Pro­fes­sor Wain­wright as “a huge, warm, af­fec­tion­ate spirit in a strong, rugged and seem­ingly in­de­struc­tible body. He loved nature and travel to re­mote and beau­ti­ful places and ex­er­cised his pow­er­ful cre­ativ­ity with great pas­sion and sen­si­tiv­ity. He cam­paigned tire­lessly for the sus­tain­abil­ity of our planet, and his very sub­stan­tial body of pho­to­graphic work ex­presses his val­ues more elo­quently than words can ex­press.”

Since 2002, Pro­fes­sor Wain­wright and his wife and fel­low artist Anne Ly­diat had lived in a con­verted coaster on the River Thames. He died of a heart at­tack on 2 Septem­ber while at­tempt­ing the Three Peaks Chal­lenge in York­shire.

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