Sir Hugh Casson PRA

We had an event last night to celebrate the launch of our now annual Friends’ Week, together with a small, pop-up display of work relating to the life of Hugh Casson PRA, part of a recent gift of his sketchbooks by his three daughters.   Neil Bingham, the Curator of Contemporary Architectural Collections in the Department of Design, Architecture and Digital at the V&A (I forgot to give him his full title) spoke about Casson’s life and work:  how he had been trained as an architect at Cambridge by Kit Nicholson (he wrote a book in the late 1930s called New Sights of London);  worked during the war as a camouflage artist;  and was appointed Director of Architecture at the Festival of Britain when only 38 (he was knighted in 1952).   Bingham made the point that, from the beginning, he was very good at connecting the different factions of architecture, writing as Astragal in the Architects’ Journal.   I think of him as being responsible for the financial sustainability of the RA after being elected President in 1975, founding the Friends in 1977, the Royal Academy Trust in 1981, and its American Associates in 1983 (he liked nothing better than touring America).   But Neil Bingham made the point that he was at least as important as a connector – of people and ideas – being so well connected himself.

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3 thoughts on “Sir Hugh Casson PRA

  1. Martin Hopkinson says:

    He was a very kind man. I remember him visiting my school, Eastbourne College, in the early 1960s – and he gave an excellent speech in 1980 at the opening of the new Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow -designed by William Whitfield.

  2. Dinah Casson says:

    He was certainly there and he hated it! Bad at sport and male-only camaraderie, he discovered survival was only possible through drawing and making people laugh. Useful lessons that saw him through everything confronted in later life.

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