A film celebrating the lives of two of Britain’s most iconic post-war designers has been premiered at Keele University.
The Back to the Drawing Board film is the culmination of a two-year project, exploring the lives and work of Pat Albeck and Peter Rice. After a series of events and exhibitions at Keele University and in the wider community, the film was officially launched to a packed audience at Keele.
Amongst those in attendance at the premiere was Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, who commented:
“Stoke-on-Trent has an enormous heritage of culture and artists and it’s great to have an institution like Keele University play its part, and be a real investor and custodian of arts and culture in this great area of the country.”
The film tells the story of two lives and one household defined by the rhythms of drawing and design. Pat Albeck and Peter Rice shared a lifetime together as partners, parents and above all as two of post-war Britain’s most prolific and prominent designers. The film provides a precious glimpse of this unique partnership, as Pat and Peter reflect on their long careers and speak of the joys of their lives lived in design. Tragically, Peter passed away during the making of the film, and the unexpected loss became a focal point for the film.
The film’s director, Dr Pawas Bisht, who is part of the department of Media, Communications and Culture at Keele commented:
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to work on this intimate portrait of Pat Albeck and Peter Rice. Their warmth and generosity in sharing their experiences and allowing us access to their home was wonderful.”
“Peter’s passing away in December 2015 during the making of the film was a very sad event. This unexpected loss inevitably became a point of focus for the film. The film examines how, for Pat, creative work provided the means for grieving, remembrance and recovery.”
Asked how he thought the premiere had gone, Dr Bisht added:
“I couldn’t be happier. There was some nervousness as Pat, Matthew and Emma had not seen the film, so I am hugely relieved that they liked it. All the responses I’ve had have been very positive, and I think the audience really felt that they got to know Pat and Peter a little better, and felt the warmth and gentleness that defines the two of them.”
Other guests were equally enthusiastic about the moving tribute to the lives of two talented artists. Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley added:
“I think it’s a wonderful film, it’s got a great humanity. It told the story of two incredibly important designers in a very real way, and we got a real insight into the processes behind what they created over so many decades.”
Professor David Amigoni, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Keele, commented:
“It is very gratifying that Keele has been recognised by a very distinguished external visitor, Darren Henley, for its distinctiveness. We’re very grateful to Darren for coming and seeing what we do here.”
Professor Fiona Cownie, Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Experience added:
“For Keele, it’s a really important event, as well as being enormously enjoyable. It is a clear indication of Keele’s commitment to the Arts, which is particularly significant in terms of our support for Stoke’s bid for the City of Culture.”
Also in attendance were Pat’s son and daughter-in-law, Matthew Rice and Emma Bridgewater. Matthew explained:
“I had absolutely no idea what the film was going to be like, or what it would feel like watching the film of my dad – but it was a brilliant thing – really beautifully done. I think it had some really emotive images and was brilliantly edited – I really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a brilliant culmination of the project. I suppose it’s the lasting document, the lasting artefact that comes out of this exhibition.”
The film follows a hugely successful exhibition of the couple’s work, and the shared title of the film and exhibition reflects their shared themes. Like the exhibition, the film’s focus on the lives of Pat and Peter enables a broader examination of the dynamics of creativity in everyday life and over the course of a lifetime. The relationship between ageing and creativity is also a key concern for both the film and the exhibition.
About the artists:
Pat Albeck is one of the leading designers in modern Britain, having worked in the textile, pottery and paper industries and for John Lewis and the National Trust.
Peter Rice was one of the pre-eminent stage and costume designers in modern British opera and theatre.
The project also explored a fascinating family dynamic and relationship with the local area, for Pat and Peter are the parents of Matthew Rice, husband and business partner of Emma Bridgewater. Matthew is a gifted writer, designer and artist with a passion for architectural history; Emma Bridgewater is famously leading a ceramics revival in Stoke-on-Trent.
(Press release reposted from https://www.keele.ac.uk/pressreleases/2017/filmpremiere.html)