- Also known as
primary name: Ward, Ken
- individual; collector; musician; actor/entertainer; British; Male
- Life dates
- Performer of folk music and dance, especially from the Balkans. Inspired by Philip Thornton (died 1992), the pioneer of Balkan dance in Britain and founder of the Society for International Folk Dance (SIFD), Ken Ward joined the SIFD in the early 1950s, not long after it was founded in 1946, becoming its Chairman in 1962-64. He travelled initially in France and Spain, but from 1957 started visiting Yugoslavia regularly and was there when the Skopje earthquake took place in 1963. He was a friend of Zivko Firfov (1906-84), a major figure in the musical culture of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and set up a dance group in Firfov's memory which is still active today. Ward never spoke about his day job working for Southwark Council's Social Services Department. His life's passion was the study, performance and teaching of Balkan traditional dance and music and he in turn inspired many others. During his visits to the Balkans he collected, from the1950s onwards, costumes and jewellery, textiles, musical instruments, and pottery, from the different areas of his travels, keeping meticulous documentation on the materials, techniques of manufacture, function and ethnic group for each piece. His collection, of some 250 items, was given to the Museum in 1997. Items from it were displayed in 'Traditional jewellery and dress from the Balkans' (Room 2, January September 2011). Ward spent his final years in Spain, at Sitges, near Barcelona.
His archive of photographs and slides, together with notes and articles, were bequeathed to the British Museum are are available for consultation by appointment in the Anthropology Library.
- D. Waller, 'Textiles from the Balkans', British Museum Fabric Folio series, London 2010
J. Rudoe, 'Textiles from the Balkans in the British Museum', ICOM Costume Committeee, Proceedings of the 64th Annual Conference 2011, Belgrade 2012, pp. 49-57