Arts centre head ‘inspired many’

Malcolm Thackwray
Malcolm Thackwray

Queens Park Arts Centre founder and ‘creative polymath’ Malcolm Thackwray has died.

Mr Thackwray, 72, who oversaw the creation of the Aylesbury centre as its artistic director from 1978 to 1998, died in Dulverton, Somerset, where he lived after his retirement.

Born on April 30 1943 in Holland on Sea Essex, Mr Thackwray was described by his contemporaries as an ‘artist and craftsman in the broadest sense of the term.’

Some called him a ‘creative polymath, due to the range of his artistic endeavours’, but friends say that he simply described himself as ‘a maker’.

Mr Thackwray studied at the Guildford School of Art and his first creative employment was as an associate in the studio of civic sculptor William Mitchell.

Shortly after, he was commissioned to design and create a memorial wall to commemorate Robert and Elizabeth Browning’s residence in Little Venice, London.

Sarah Lewis, Queens Park Arts Centre’s current artistic director, said: “His contribution was immense, he helped to renovate the derelict building and make it fit for purpose, designed and distributed promotional material, recruited and supported a dedicated team of volunteers, planned and helped construct the Limelight Theatre (as well as the sets for many productions), ran workshops, raised funding and so much more.”

She added: “Malcolm took early retirement after eighteen years at the helm and heart of Queens Park, as the long road to the centre becoming an independent organisation began.”

In his retirement Mr Thackwray continued to enjoy a creative life.

He took on a number of projects in Somerset including creating sets for a local arts centre, designing ornate ‘treasure chest’ boxes to be sold, overseeing touring exhibitions and even writing a series of novels.

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