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   Obituary - Keith Harrington


Keith Harrington

Nickname: Josh
Staff member
Years: 1962-1976

On 26th May 2005, Webmaster received an e-mail from Rita (Keith's wife) giving the sad news that Keith had passed away on 13th May 2005.

David Creswell (Clive 1964-1970) e-mailed this tribute on 18th July 2005:
I learned so little practical Art from "Josh" that I managed a splendid Grade 9 at O Level.. The deepest possible academic failure. What I did learn from him is beyond price or value.

His vegetation, sky, land & waterscapes were enchanting. Anything animated, however, didn't seem to quite work. Just as no indiginous Kenyan carver of wooden tourist souvenirs (until 1990 to my certain knowledge) ever managed a passable lion.

The first picture I ever fell for was his study in oils of Fourteen Falls, painted following a School Art Club excursion. I spotted it (probably still wet) hanging high above the art room door. 60 weeks pocket money was committed then and there. Next exeat I proudly took my picture home. It has remained ever since in pride of place.

His art had an honesty & decency about it. Never ostentatious or aggressive. Always subtle and with strong use of colour and form. He showed that imperfection is perfectly normal, natural, acceptable and, often, immensely beautiful.

In behaviour he quite shocked me. Even allowing for the artistic temperament! Boys calling him "Josh" to his face, the talk of drinking with him out of school hours, the patience he showed with no-hopers like me. So unlike the more normal staff members. My greatest shock came when I heard that he had caned a boy. From all accounts a jolly good job. Backhand delivery. Very few cuts.Very neat.Very painful. How could so nice a man, creator and tutor of beauty, do something so ugly and vile? All to do with the 'roundness of personality' & 'execution of duty', I learned.

Still in Josh's art room - a similar lesson. There was a really horrid foreign boy - keen intelligence, small, skinny, smooth skin, rasping voice, arrogant, rude and aggressive. He painted the most beautiful pictures!! In a vaguely impressionist style. Had I not despised him so much I would have coveted his work. How could someone so 'ugly' create such beauty? How I now regret my loathing of that boy. I could have spent a life time enjoying his lovely work. Such a pity I couldn't apply the lesson from Josh the other way around. Perhaps I had not yet learned it.

A competent teacher. A nice, good man.

He stroked hearts, touched souls and strove towards the Gods.

A true artist.

The following was Keith's entry in the Alumni section of this web site prior to his death:

Staff member
Year: May 1962 - June 1976
Art Master and Housemaster of Intermediate

Memories of school: A unique experience of transition from Colonial days and attitudes to those of independent Kenya. Over this period I watched staff and students come and go providing a never ending stream of characters. My time at this school was among the happiest and most gratifying periods of my life. The Art Room provided a refuge from School routine through personal expression, not always artistic expression. I am proud of the many students who eventually made their way in life by being creative in art related professions.

Since leaving School: I spent the next two years teaching at Kenyatta College and the following year as Art Master at Hillcrest School. We then returned to England. After just over a year in England my addiction for Kenya sunshine got the better of me. I returned to Kenya to open Studio Xenium, a fine art studio with tutorial facilities. I was asked to escort a wildlife photographic safari and spent nine years as an escort. Eventually I could not take any more tourists so set sail for America to seek my fortune.

Currently am Art Director for Special Education Services a group of schools for High Risk students.

I plan to be in Nairobi for my daughter's wedding early January 2004. Hopefully I can get in touch with some former students and friends at that time!