Simon Hepworth Nicholson
|Born||3 October 1934|
|Died||17 January 1990|
|Education||Royal College of Art (First Year), Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Painting, Sculpture|
Four years after Simon and his twin sisters Sarah and Rachel were born, their parents married. Nicholson attended Dartington Hall School before studying sculpture at the Royal College of Art from 1953 to 1954 and then archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1954 to 1957. Like his parents, Nicholson lived and worked in St Ives from 1960 to 1964.
He moved to the USA in 1964 to teach, firstly at the Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia and then at the University of Berkeley, California. During this time he had solo exhibitions in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Simon returned to England in 1971 and was an Open University (OU) lecturer until 1989. He became chairman of the Art and Environment course at the OU, which developed into a popular practical arts module (TAD292). The associated week long summer school achieved some notoriety.
Interests and influence
Nicholson's work is characterised by an interest in the texture of different surfaces and materials, often taking the landscape as its starting point.
His "Theory of Loose Parts", outlined in a 1971 essay, has been inflential in playwork, early education and interactive installations of all kinds. He summarised the theory as: "In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” Nicholson's definition of loose parts was broad. In a playwork context, it might include:
- "natural resources – such as straw, mud andpine cones"
- "building materials and tools – planks, nails, hammers"
- "scrap materials – old tyres, off-cuts of guttering"
- "bark which can be both safe playground surfacing and a loose part"
- "and, most essentially, random found objects."
For Nicholson, the definition was even broader: "There is evidence that all children love to interact with variables such as materials and shapes; smells and other physical phenomena, such as electricity, magnetism and gravity; media such as gases and fluids; sounds, music and motion; chemical interactions, cooking and fire; and other people, and animals, plants, words, concepts and ideas. With all these things all children love to play, experiment, discover and invent and have fun. All these things have one thing in common, which is variables or 'loose parts'."
- "Barbara Hepworth Biography" barbarahepworth.org 9 September 2011
- http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=29180[permanent dead link]
- http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/collection/biog.php?w_artist=Simon+Nicholson&Search=-+submit+-[permanent dead link]
- Robertson, Juliet. "Simon Nicholson and The Theory of Loose Parts – 1 Million Thanks — Creative STAR Learning | I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!". creativestarlearning.co.uk. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- Nicholson, Simon (October 1971). "How Not To Treat Children: The Theory of Loose Parts". Landscape Architecture. 62: 30–34.
- Weinstein, C.S.; David, T.G. (eds.). Spaces for children : the built environment and child development. Plenum Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-4684-5227-3. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- Play Wales (July 2017). Resources for playing : providing loose parts to support children's play : A Toolkit (PDF). Play Wales. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-9932410-4-8. Retrieved 29 November 2018.