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Tim Mara, Castles in Spain, 1993
Tim Mara Artist's Alphabet

P, Q and R > R: Royal College of Art Professorship back | start | next |

back to the alphabet grid In 1990 Tim was appointed Professor of Printmaking at The Royal College of Art replacing the retiring Professor, Alistair Grant. His appointment continued an unbroken chain of succession from Professor to Student for over six generations. (to read more about the history of RCA Print Professors (see section 'V' ).

Previously Tim had been principal lecturer in printmaking at Chelsea School of Art and was thought by many to be the natural choice for the new Professor's job.

The technicians at The Royal College had for many years had a joke that underneath the "Professor, Alistair Grant" sign on his office door there was a sticker placed by Tim as a student with his own name upon it. Tim had long aspired to the Professor's role at the College and was excited by its challenges and potential.

Tim remained Professor until his death in 1997; during these seven years in the role he would also spend three years as Head of Fine Art. In his first year as Professor he chaired and helped to organise the International Print Conference at the College and shortly afterwards presented his inaugural lecture outlining his philosophy for the course.

His engagement as Professor coincided with important changes and developments in print technology especially in computerised and digital processes and the beginning of the Internet. Tim embraced these exciting advancements and instigated the fine art computer cluster into the department complete with inkjet printers, state of the art computers and scanning and processing technologies.

He was wise enough to view these new technologies as an addition to the family of print mediums not a replacement for its existing processes as other less far sighted courses had seen them and he continued to promote and encourage usage of the traditional means of expression alongside and often integrated with these new developments.

Tim also continued to develop the College's print publishing activities and in 1992 and 1994 the department published two new portfolios both titled 'Six Artists' which included current printmaking staff such as Chris Orr, Alf Dunn and John Hewitt, recent graduates Freya Payne and Nana Shiomi alongside well established invited artists and friends of the department such as John Hoyland, Peter Blake, Allen Jones, Eileen Cooper, Eduardo Paolozzi, Norman Ackroyd and Paula Rego.

In addition to this the department produced an annual box set of prints in a consistent 11"x11" square format to which every member of staff, graduating students and friends of the department contributed a print. These box sets serve as an insightful document to Tim's Professorship as well as providing much needed financial support for the printmaking appeal fund via their sale. They are much admired souvenirs of the association with the College of the participating Artists and Students. The box set works were annually exhibited at The Flowers East Gallery in London.

Tim organised other exhibitions of the Department's activities, most notably 'The Spirit of the Staircase Exhibition at the V&A' in 1997, which he co-curated in 1997, the staff and student show at The Duna Gallery in Barcelona in 1992 and in the same year a show at Marlborough Graphics, London.

Tim continued to develop and expand the printmaking course and appointed many new members of staff into his department. His choice of supporting staff was varied, eclectic and complementary. His only criteria for selection being that they were Artists of the utmost integrity and of relevance to the current student body.

Tim worked closely with his former Tutor, Alf Dunn, who became Head of Course, and Department tutors Kate Whiteford, John Hewitt, Helen Chadwick, Nigel Rolfe, Chris Orr, Chris Plowman, Eileen Cooper, Max Davison, Eric Great-Rex, Tracey Emin and Mark Hampson.

He was a passionate and dedicated Professor who brought a particularly parental and supportive approach to his role. He regarded his role very much as a reciprocal aspect of his work and often talked of feeling privileged to work in this position at The Royal College of Art and working with their postgraduate students.

Below are some of the many tributes paid to him by his past students:

"As an Artist and as a teacher Tim commanded a great respect. As Students he gave us a belief and confidence to pursue our own creative direction. He installed in us an ambition and professionalism in order that we may realise these aims. I remember him as a man of great and certain kindness who always had the hopes of his Students close to his heart".
Duncan Bullen, MA (RCA), Printmaking, 1991

"Tim was a very insightful man. He always knew what you were trying to achieve and would offer the best advice to that end. He not only cared about the postgraduates but also offered on-going support to those who left the College.
Jane Duncan, MA (RCA), Printmaking, 1994

"Tim was not the spotlight but the standard lamp which cast a warm and generous light over all who knew him".
Rebecca Davies, Second Year Student in Printmaking, RCA, 1997

"It was a privilege to have worked with Tim Mara, to have experienced the positive spirit he carried. He was supportive and critical. He welcomed me to The Royal College with kindness and competence, giving confidence and enthusiasm, a tree growing in the memory".
Mabe Bethonico, MA (RCA), Printmaking, 1993

"Tim gave many Students/Artists the strength and opportunity to survive and succeed in a difficult career. His generosity was overwhelming, his support constant, his friendship precious and his vision eminent".
Gill Addison, MA (RCA), Printmaking, 1991

Tim revealed some of his thoughts and approach as Professor of Printmaking in the 1992-93 prospectus for the College when he introduced the course by saying:

"Students hoping to do an MA should ask themselves; who am I going to meet? What kind of teaching will I receive? What opportunities are there for discussing my work intellectually? What are the facilities? Are there travel opportunities? Can I stretch myself? On arrival at the College, you automatically join your peers at a higher level, receive personal tuition from practicing professionals and have access to the best equipment and highly experienced technical staff. The possibilities of meeting people in different fields and working together across disciplines is a very enriching experience. It is top of the tree in Art & Design. The techniques of printmaking are totally integrated into the student's work as an Artist - specific workshop courses ensure that students can develop a technical ability to a sophisticated stage. We also run a business studies course which is geared to providing a lot of hard knowledge about the practice of printmaking as a professional together with guidelines on working with galleries and dealers.

In addition we have our own well-developed print publishing enterprise at the College which not only involves students but also raises finances to enrich the course as a whole. All of our students tend to continue as Artists whether still working in printmaking, setting up studios, exhibiting or teaching. The course confirms the practice"

© Text: Mark Hampson / Images: Belinda Mara
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