Shropshire Star

Tributes after death of award-winning film artist from the Shropshire border

Tributes have been paid to an Oscar-nominated art designer from the Shropshire border who worked on a wealth of films in a career spanning more than 50 years.


Assheton Gorton, who lived in Churchstoke on the Shropshire border, died aged 84, after suffering with a heart condition in recent years.

He worked on films such as Get Carter, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Legend and 101 Dalmatians and was recognised as "one of Britain's most avant garde and respected production designers".

But the film industry veteran lived a private life away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, in the Churchstoke valley, where he moved with his family in 1976.

Mia Sara and Tom Cruise in Ridley Scott's fantasy epic Legend

Mr Gorton's film career took off when he won a Golden Palm Award at Cannes for 1965 comedy The Knack, directed by Richard Lester and starring Michael Crawford, Ray Brooks and Rita Tushingham.

He was then nominated for a Bafta for the 1966 film Blow Up, starring David Hemmings and Venessa Redgrave, and later nominated for both a Bafta and an Oscar for 1981's The French Lieutenant's Woman, with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep.

Following the film's release, he exhibited his original drawings for it at the Three Tuns brewery in Bishop's Castle, for the town's film society.

Michael Caine in Get Carter

Daughter Sophie, 51, one of Mr Gorton's three children who all went to Bishop's Castle School, said he passed away peacefully in his sleep on September 14.

She said: "He was working right up until the end, planning new ventures and exhibitions, despite being nearly blind.

"He was quite a maverick about how he did things – he did things his own way and wasn't afraid to say 'no', which is what you need to be an artist. He was a very private man and treated everybody with respect, he judged people on merit not on position.

"He will be very much missed by family, colleagues and friends. He was a very strong character and he has left a big gap."

In June leading names in the film industry gathered as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body behind the Oscars, paid tribute to Mr Gorton's life and career at a ceremony at London's Soho House, hosted by Sir Christopher Frayling.

Mike Hodges, director of Michael Caine crime thriller Get Carter, said: "The pleasure he gets in expressing himself visually is palpable. He was modest, generous and humorous, I was lucky to work with him."

Sir Ridley Scott, director of such films as Prometheus, Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator, said he was proud to know Mr Gorton, whom he called a 'great designer'. He said: "We go back a long way and it was a great experience to work with him on (Scott's 1985 fantasy film) Legend."

Hugh Hudson, who worked with Gorton on Revolution, a historical drama starring Al Pacino, called him an "architect, sculptor, painter, poet and thinker".

Mr Gorton leaves behind Sophie, sons Steve, 55, and Barnaby, 53, wife Gayatri, 76, and seven grandchildren. His funeral will be held at St Nicholas Church, Churchstoke, at 1pm on Wednesday, followed by a private cremation.

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