Timothy Duffield, celebrated public sculptor and landscape architect, has died at 82

Timothy Duffield, 82, of West Chester, celebrated public sculptor, landscape architect, printmaker, artist, and teacher, died Friday, Feb. 2, of complications from a stroke at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Born and raised in the north of England, on rocky, jagged land that fueled his fascination with scenes of form and figures, Mr. Duffield moved to Philadelphia in 1972 and designed memorable public, commercial, and residential landscapes, and constructed inspirational public art in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and elsewhere across the country.

“It is the land that has informed all of my work in whatever medium,” he said on his website. “I have tried to reflect it in my sculpture. I have tried to work with it, and sometimes to heal it, in my landscape design.”

He was a pioneer in ecological design, and his fountain and lush garden at Schuylkill River Park, stark columns and earthworks at the Delle Donne Corporate Center in Wilmington, and “Pool of Siloam” in New Haven, Conn., are examples of what he called “a heartfelt expression of the physical and spiritual sustenance that the land bestows.”

In the early 1980s, he used bricks in the distinctive facade and lobby at Graduate Hospital to acknowledge the historical role of bricklayers in Philadelphia. “My education and training, and my predilection, is to be aware of history and to see my work in a historical context,” he said in a 2022 profile he wrote for an exhibition at the Delaware College of Art and Design in Wilmington.

Mr. Duffield made both abstract and figurative sculptures, big and not-so-big. They include the 18-foot bronze statue “The Family” that stood for decades at 18th and Market Streets, the 25-foot long “Dream of Sky” sculpture on the Penn campus at 37th and Market Streets, and the 14-foot “World War II Memorial” at H.B. DuPont Park in Wilmington. His work was featured often in The Inquirer and other publications, and the Inquirer’s Thomas Hines said he combined elements so seamlessly it was sometimes hard to tell “where sculpture stops and the buildings begin.”

“I am content to leave the land alone, just to observe its stillness, its remoteness, its being without reference to man – and his folly.”

Timothy Duffield on why many of his images do not show human habitation.

He also drew and made photographic prints, and his work is in collections and has been exhibited across the United States and in England, France, Czech Republic, and elsewhere. “My drawings are the expression of my more inward life,” he said in his 2022 profile. “They take on a sometimes fantastic, mystical quality. They are a little peek into ‘My Private Soul.’”

Mr. Duffield was active with the International Sculpture Center and other organizations, and taught sculpture and printmaking in England and later at the University of Nebraska, Penn, Temple and Rutgers Universities, and the Philadelphia College of Art, now University of the Arts. He won grants and fellowships, championed the use of early computers in design education, and became a consultant on website design and computer graphics.

He arrived at Penn in 1972 to study under pioneering environmental planner and landscape architect Ian L. McHarg, and earned a master’s degree in landscape architecture in 1975. He lectured at conferences, symposia, and workshops for years, and said that creative landscape designers could “ameliorate the damage and create a better future.”

George Ernest Timothy Duffield was born April 18, 1941, in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England. He showed extraordinary talent for drawing houses as a boy, and family and friends knew right away he had special skills.

He graduated from Hammersmith College of Art in London in 1962 and earned a teaching certificate at Leeds School of Art, now Leeds Arts University, in 1964. He taught at art schools in England for four years, served a Fulbright Fellowship and taught for a year at Nebraska, and went back to teaching at art schools in England until he left for Penn and Philadelphia when he was 31.

“He liked imparting his point of view to his students,” said his son Jamison.

He married Aileen Francis, and they had sons Timon and Thomas. After a divorce, he married his creative soulmate and partner, Ann Rosch, in 1971, and they had sons Jamison and Gareth, and lived in Philadelphia, Ardmore, and West Chester. His former wife died earlier.

Mr. Duffield was a star cricket player when he was young, and he hitchhiked across Europe one summer. He enjoyed classical music, jazz, and the blues, and collected hundreds of records and compact discs.

He was an avid photographer and gardener, read the newspaper every day, and followed the Phillies with a passion. He was funny and served as a volunteer poll watcher and fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

“He was extremely curious and committed to his art,” said his son Jamison. “He was loving and equally committed to his family, and he and his wife were the most important things to each other.”

In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Duffield is survived by three grandchildren, a brother, and other relatives. A brother died earlier.

Memorial services are to be held later.

Donations in his name may be made to the Delaware College of Art and Design, 600 N. Market St., Wilmington, Del. 19801; and the Rural Utah Project, 323 S. 600 East, Suite 130, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102.

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