This week: Tribute to Chris Livesey
Chris Livesey, 10 January 1943 - 4 May 2021
I am very sorry to announce the news that Chris Livesey died recently. Colleagues, past students and parents will remember Chris with enormous respect and affection.
Chris joined Camden School for Girls in 1976 as a visiting art teacher and quickly became the head of department. The quality of art teaching and of the work produced by students was already very high, and Chris built on this success to create a truly outstanding department. In an interview with the Camden New Journal in 2011 following his retirement after 33 years Chris was asked why he had stayed so long and he said the following:
“It was the talent in the school - quite breathtaking and quite humbling - that kept me interested and I saw no point in moving”
Under Chris’s leadership as Head of Art, students received an art education that was rigorous while at the same time being highly creative and innovative. Chris had a depth of contextual knowledge from the work of Renaissance old masters through to contemporary practitioners and was able to cross reference this with other fields such as philosophy and history and politics. He shared his insights with his students with great generosity and patience and it was a pleasure to hear him discuss ideas with them.
Chris had an expert command over a wealth of techniques and processes in painting, sculpture and photography through his training at Camberwell and the Slade and further honed through the development of his own work. His drawing was exceptional and after retiring from full time teaching he regularly returned to the art department to teach extra curricular life drawing classes. These were hugely popular and a new generation of students benefited from his obvious gifts as a teacher and a draughtsman.
The teachers in the art department, past and present, who worked with Chris have all spoken of his huge influence on their development as teachers as well as of his friendship, kindness, intelligence and wit.
Chris’s influence, and that of the art department, was (and still is) felt far beyond the department. Student art is on display all around the school, regularly eliciting praise from visitors and creating a dazzling visual environment. And when students produce posters, magazines and other forms of visual communication, the impact of their strong art education is clear to see.
Chris was also the perfect host at the highly popular GCSE and A level art shows, which were (and still are!) a superb opportunity to display students’ work in a gallery-style setting that filled visitors - especially parents and the students themselves - with enormous pride and a sense of achievement.
A highly skilled sixth form tutor, Chris provided excellent guidance for young people in the school and was a memorable and influential role model. He had a superb sense of humour, he exuded warmth and yet his seriousness about art and about education were never in doubt.
Chris is survived by his wife, Jannis Shimmin, whom many will remember as a very long-standing deputy head, geography teacher and pastoral leader at Camden School for Girls during and after Chris's time at the school. Our thoughts are with Jannis and with Chris's family at this time.
I hope these images will remind you of Chris and his exceptional contribution to the school.
|1983 - Art lesson
|1999 - Celebrating successful Ofsted in staffroom
|2010 - Retirement celebration