Peter Thursby

Peter Thursby was born in Salisbury in 1930, the only child of an army officer. Following National Service he attended St. Paul’s College in Cheltenham and in 1953 enrolled at the West of England College of Art in Bristol where he studied Fine Art under Paul Feiler, sculpture under Ernest Pascoe, and later gained his teaching qualifications. Thursby moved to Exeter College of Art and studied sculpture under Ted Atkinson. The college’s principal, Clifford Fishwick, became a close friend of the family.

During his early years Thursby was actively involved with the Devon-based Kenn Group of artists and exhibited his work annually with the Salisbury Group, the Devon Festival Show at the Exeter Museum and Art Gallery and the prestigious Young Contemporaries exhibition at the RBA Galleries, London. By 1956 his  paintings had become entirely abstract and between the AIA’s landmark ‘Abstract 1957’ show and 1968 he exhibited with the Artists International Association, having been elected a full member in 1958. The year before this he had made an auspicious debut at the Royal West of England Academy autumn show, the beginning of what was to become a long association between the artist and the RWA, resulting in Thursby’s presidency of the Academy between 1995 and 2000.

By the early 1960s semi-figurative elements began to emerge which led to an increasing emphasis on sculpture. His work was championed by gallerist, Marjorie Parr, who promoted the artist and showed his work in her galleries in the King’s Road and in St Ives throughout that decade, and with whom he enjoyed a successful relationship. He also received numerous public and commercial commissions for his work and showed with the Arnolfini Gallery, the Alwin Gallery and the Bruton Street Gallery; his work is held in municipal collections throughout the U.K.

Throughout his career Peter Thursby held various teaching posts, most notably as head of art at Hele’s Grammar School in Exeter from 1960 to 1971 and then as head of the School of Art and Design at Exeter College from 1971 until retirement in 1991.

A major biography of the artist by Vivienne Light and Simon Olding was published by Canterton Books in 2006 and Modern British Pictures is delighted to offer this group of rare examples of Thursby’s abstract paintings, which all date from the 1950s. In these paintings is evidence of a seminal influence on what led to his development and recognition as a sculptor of international repute.

Peter Thursby died in 2011, aged 80.

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