Tony Hart was one of the most successful television presenters and educators of art. His contribution was immense and would be difficult to quantify today. He inspired generations of youths who became designers, and artists, and even engineers. His work had a very broad positive impact on the children of the 80s and 90s.
He was not just a television presenter but he was a teacher, an artist, and most importantly a very decent human being who inspired millions.
To get children to sit down and learn after school is difficult, however, he achieved it effortlessly. When he started to draw, it was hypnotic. Watching him draw was like watching magic happening.
His television series ran a very long time, and I remember seeing him on television whilst I was in school, college, and university! For many he was a companion that walked with us on a journey of discovery showing us how to draw as we were growing up.
With shattered little bodies and bruised spirits, we looked forward to watching Take Hart in the evening to build our spirits up again. His show would make us ready for the next day of battle at school.
He had an ability to engender trust in people almost straight away. He only needed to one word to unlock your heart, “Hello”. He had clarity of perception that was unique and rare that I suppose only great artists would have. Just as he drew on paper, with each stroke of the pencil, finely defined, accurate, and well thought out ahead of time, similarly, so was the quality of his thinking.
He was always thinking ahead of time when he was drawing, which was a very important lesson to learn. It was certainly not something that you could learn in school.
There were some very simple useful ideas in his programs that I learnt and found inspiring. I remember he used those wonderful sharp tipped pens for sketching. He used to draw a straight horizontal line to divide his work into sections, which in modern times we now call "thought units". I do these very simple useful things even today.
He was an educated man, he had travelled the world, and he had experienced life. He understood poverty, hunger, humanity. At the age of 17, he travelled to India, and enlisted in the army joining the first Ghurkha Rifles.
His knowledge of other cultures and people was impressive. He even knew about the festival of colours in India. He was truly remarkable and rare because there are not very many people like that today.
When one considers some of the most slimy money-grabbing MPs that have received unearned OBEs and Knighthoods, or those whose awards had to be rescinded, it is a tragedy that Tony Hart who answered the call of his country, willing to fight in combat, and who inspired generations of young people was never awarded anything.
I always say that it is better to deserve honours and not have them, than to have them and not deserve them. No medal or honour can accurately reflect Tony’s contribution. His gift was his art together with his generous time, immortalized on television, forever. He was a true sign of a great soul and very much missed.