Mary Banham

Following news of the death of Mary Banham, Peter (Reyner) Banham’s widow, I have been reading the transcripts of her interviews for National Life Stories, which tell one quite a lot that I did not know: that she was born in 1922, so must have been 96 when she died; how she and Banham got married in 1946 when she was teaching in Norwich and he had returned from service in the war (his father worked for the Norwich Gas Works); how she supported him through her exiguous earnings as a teacher while he was a student at the Courtauld Institute; that her leg was amputated in the 1950s, not the 1980s as I had always assumed; how central they both were to the activities and discussions surrounding the ICA in the mid-1950s; how enamoured their social circle of architects and pop artists (most especially, Sandy Wilson, their next door neighbour, Jim Stirling and Richard Hamilton) was with American imagery – food, cars, magazines, advertising; how she took a course in architectural drawing to provide the illustrations required for his books. She was remarkable – a great force for good in her own right.


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