Obituary of Ivan Price | Paint

My father, Ivan Price, who died at the age of 94, was a cultural polymath and activist, and for 60 years a center of creativity and education in his pottery community.

Ivan was born into a working class family of Welsh and Scottish descent in Stoke-on-Trent. His mother, Jane (known as Jinnie, née Davies), worked pressing quarry tiles and his father, William Price, working them. Music permeated the family, with singing parties at the chapel, ceilidhs at Hogmanay and upright piano lessons. In 1940, during the Second World War, a bomb narrowly missed their terraced house, where they took shelter under the table.

When his father was injured and lost his job in 1941, Ivan left Wolstanton High School aged 14 to work in Wedgwood, where he developed a love for ceramics. He then entered National Service as a Bevin Boy, where shifts in the pit were followed by three hours of piano practice (he earned an ATCL – Associate of Trinity College London). He met Mavis Elizabeth Perkins (later known as Beth) around this time in a local youth group for theatre, music and literature. They married in 1947.

Ivan then undertook teacher training at Dudley College (1948-1950), teaching music, and later also art, at Halmer End Modern Secondary (now Sir Thomas Boughey Academy). In the early 1970s, he earned a degree in humanities from the Open University and in 1981 a master’s degree in visual language in the Keele University program.

Ivan Price was a prolific painter, sculptor and potter

A prolific painter, wood and stone carver, potter, furniture designer and maker, Ivan also played the piano, lute and folk guitar and formed an Elizabethan madrigal band. As well as teaching, he wrote and produced a children’s opera and ran the Audley and Halmer End Evening Institute, an early example of lifelong learning.

In 1963, Ivan and Beth bought an end-of-terrace house in the mining village of Bignall End, near Audley, Staffordshire. For the next six decades, it became the focus of Ivan’s creative endeavors as he remodeled the house according to 1960s ideals of light and space, filling it with murals, furniture, ceramics, decorative art and sculptures, and planting a garden oasis of trees and shrubs. A creative community has grown, with regular evenings devoted to political and philosophical discussions, live music and readings, with members such as Alan Maywhich made boats, harpsichords and lutes, and a modern reconstruction of the Gutenberg press.

A true localist, Ivan led campaigns to protect the greenbelt and plant trees, was a member of the Staffordshire Artists and exhibited in Stoke and Keele.

Beth died in 2012 from Parkinson’s disease and her daughter Jan died in 2020 from motor neurone disease. Ivan is survived by two children, Bronwen and I, and four grandchildren, Jacob, Lucas, Ben and Dan.

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