Paul Hipkiss was a committed educationalist and artist. Born in 1940, he trained at Stourbridge Art College majoring in Pottery and Lithography. He started teaching in Birmingham, when he was 20. He soon realised that he would benefit from a teaching qualification and took a year out to do his ATD.
Paul was a passionate supporter of comprehensive education and was pleased when he was able to secure a post at Shenley Court School, Birmingham, shortly after it was opened. He later became Head of the art department, where he remained until his retirement sixteen years ago.
As a head of department he enabled the staff to blossom, he encouraged us all to have our own interests and was a great believer in trying new things. When I wanted to take the students away to Wales for weekend drawing residentials, he supported me and for many years. The trips to Corris, with Paul, were a rich source of inspiration for GCSE and A-level students portfolios. He also coached a rugby team at the school until the strike which changed teaching and extra curricular work forever. Being told by the union that he could not run clubs caused him to leave the union and join NSEAD. He said that in one month he got more back in terms of subject than in all the previous years he had been teaching.
Paul and I became joint Midland secretaries of NSEAD under the chairmanship of Arthur Hughes and Lesley Hopkins.
Working with Dr Phil Roberts and Chris Davies in Birmingham, the Midlands was a thriving district and teachers were having exhibitions of their own work. Schools started working together and Shenley Art department worked with four primary schools to present an exhibition called Growth of an Idea, it was Paul's firm belief that the idea of growth would drive the work and it proved to be so. It was Paul's thought to have an examination board forum, as at that time boards question papers were quite diverse, the one day conference was a huge success, which was replicated at national level the following year. Arthur Hughes organised a weekend printmaking lecture and workshop which introduced us to Michael Rothenstein and Anne Westley. From that moment Paul became a committed printmaker.
Paul was elected to membership of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (following his father) and to the Art Circle, Easel Club and the Dudley Society of Artists. After his retirement from teaching at sixty one, he became Hon Curator of the RBSA, he worked tirelessly for the society adding a caring thoughtful contribution at council meetings. He was keen to encourage new associates and the friends of the RBSA and he always gave of his time freely. The New Horizons exhibitions were his brain child with Rob Perry, and encouraged students at midlands colleges to show at the gallery. Paul was also on the committee which helped to design & redesign the Edexel GCSE examination paper.
Paul was becoming well known as a printmaker and his lino cuts were selected for exhibitions all over the country including the Royal Academy Summer Show. His workshops were meticulously planned and he demonstrated the best practice in art education in that he allowed the students to do more than they thought they could, by valuing the ideas they had.
Paul was always pleased to read the NSEAD newsletters and would often pick up on articles which they contained.
All of this shows a person of energy and drive, but he also played rugby into his forties, was a keen MG enthusiast, restoring and repairing his own cars, edited the Dudley Society newsletter and sat on a number of committees. Paul leaves a wife, son and two grandchildren.
Paul was an unassuming character who made a fantastic contribution to the community of Birmingham and the West Midlands and I am honoured to have had him as a friend.
Lynn Jeffery RBSA