Inspiration can be found in many places and arguably in no greater place than in people.
As a young(ish) architect working with Rick Mather, (albeit for a relatively short period of time) one may assume that it was professional inspiration which was his principle contribution to me. Although his architectural abilities were indeed considerable– it is as a man that he really influenced me.
Rick is unique in my experience. Unique in that despite being more than twice my age, I considered him very definitely what Mother Goss might refer to in her 1950’s vernacular as ‘a chum’. His youthful spirit and tenacity could make even those of my generation feel uncommonly staid by comparison and his boundless energy regularly surpassed all-comers.
Rick’s playful and often risqué turn of phrase and manner are already well embedded in many people’s lexicon of persiflage with whom he was close. The jocular cry of ‘oh no!’ in an attenuated American falsetto in response to minor fiascos has become a stock response in my family’s vocabulary– usually good-natured and always amusing.
In my experience of Rick, nowhere was he more at home than in the garden of LPC, his home on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France. The depth and breath of his knowledge and his rigour in tending to and documenting the myriad of plant species there reflected his attitude to all other aspects of life.
With typical generosity of spirit LPC also became the location for RMA office trips.
I can picture Rick now– lightly bouncing past the middle garden terrace, bespattered with sleeping-bagged bodies in the wake of the previous night’s indulgences– mask and snorkel clutched in his hand, ready to plunge into the sea and once more put the rest of us to shame.
The balance between fierce dedication to what he believed and a laid-back social persona, led to an almost paradoxical contrast between architectural figurehead and unaffected regular guy, accepting of all. This was summed up perfectly by my cousin Edward who, having only known Rick on a personal level, remarked to the office staff on an LPC trip; “It’s amazing, you all see Rick as this famous architect, but to me he’s just a friendly old man”.
Rick may have taken exception to the ‘old’, but he was certainly friendly and quite a man.
By Henry Goss