Amal Ghosh Obituary
Written by Tim Cunliffe, stained glass artist and former student of Amal Ghosh
Amal Ghosh passed away in February this year aged eighty-nine.
Ghosh was born in Kolkata (Calcutta) in 1933. Following a brief period as a medical student, he attended the Kolkata Government College of Art and Craft where he trained in fine art painting. In 1958 he enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London studying painting, vitreous enamel, and stained glass. His tutors included Cecil Collins and Alan Davies.
Ghosh’s main and lasting contribution to stained glass in the United Kingdom (and India also) was through his teaching.
From the late 1960’s he taught enamelling and then later stained glass at what was to become Central Saint Martins, whilst Patrick Reyntiens was Head of Fine Art. He was possibly one of the first lecturers of Asian origin to teach at a British art school. Ghosh took over as course director on the stained glass course when Reyntiens retired in 1986. He taught alongside the late Adelle Corrin, and Caroline Swash before retiring in 1997.
The CSM course was unique in being based within a School of Fine Art. In this respect Ghosh was perfectly qualified being primarily a fine artist and used his experience to inform concerns of light, colour, symbolism, and mark-making in teaching the medium of stained glass.
He also established the popular stained glass course at the City Literary Institute in the 1960’s and taught there until the 1990’s. He organised a City Lit student commission of heraldic shields at the House of Lords in 1981.
In his own practice, he realised many private and public commissions in vitreous enamels on metal and stained glass collaborating with his wife Iris. These included Eastman Dental Hospital, London in 1992 and West Middlesex University Hospital in 1997. He divided his time between London and India both as an exhibitor and as visiting Emeritus Professor.
Painting remained his first love and became his main practice in later years. He exhibited regularly with solo shows in London and Kolkata and his work is in various public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum. His painting drew on his Indian heritage whilst strongly influenced by Post-War Modernist movements.
Ghosh’s students remember him as an inspiring, supportive, generous, and insightful teacher. A distinguishing characteristic of his teaching was how he enabled students to develop ideas and a personal language in glass without ever imposing any prescribed notions of style or concept. His unique gift was to intuitively grasp a student’s creative aspirations and to quietly respond to this.
Many of Ghosh’s students have progressed to become professional glass artists and some have taken on teaching positions often influenced by his approach. Through their practice as artists and educators, the discipline of stained glass and glass art remains alive for succeeding generations. A fitting legacy of Ghosh’s life and work.
Ghosh is survived by his wife Iris, his son and daughter, and two grandchildren.