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Patrick Heron (1920-1999)

Painter and art critic born at Headingly in Leeds, Yorkshire who lived in West Cornwall as a child, 1925-1929. He studied part-time at the Slade School, 1937-1939. During World War II, from 1940-44, Heron registered as a conscientious objector and worked as an agricultural labourer in Cornwall. After the cessation of the War he spent the next year working as an assistant at the Bernard Leach pottery in St. Ives. He started work as an art critic in 1945 and wrote in the New English Weekly, the New Statesman and Nation and continued to write for most of the rest of his life. He held his first solo exhibition at Downing's Bookshop, St. Ives, in 1947 and back in London in 1956 held his first major solo show at the Redfern Gallery. In 1953 he organised, wrote the catalogue and exhibited in ‘Space in Colour’ an exhibition of ten contemporary artists at the Hanover Gallery, London. From 1953-56 he taught at the Central School of Arts & Crafts and in 1955 published his first major book ‘The Changing Forms of Art’. From 1955-58 he was the London correspondent at the American magazine ‘Art Digest’ and in 1956 he moved into Eagle's Nest at Zennor, near St. Ives where he lived for the rest of his life. Heron was awarded the Grand Prize in the 2nd John Moores Liverpool Exhibition in 1959. He represented Britain in the 1965 VIII Bienal de São Paolo exhibition where he won a Silver Medal. Heron was created CBE in 1977 and from 1980-87 he was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery. He travelled extensively in America and Australia exhibiting and lecturing on both continents. He designed the coloured glass windows for the Tate St. Ives and was also responsible for the site specific outdoor installation at Stag Place in Westminster, London entitled 'Big Painting Sculpture'. Heron held retrospective exhibitions of his work at Hepworth Wakefield in 1952 (then known as Wakefield Art Gallery), Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1968, the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1972 and at the Barbican Art Gallery in 1985. A major retrospective exhibition of his work was held at Tate Britain in 1998. Locally in his beloved Cornwall Heron showed with the short-lived Crypt Group and at the Newlyn Society of Artists as well as with the Marjorie Parr Gallery and the Arnolfini Gallery.


Examples of his work are in the collections worldwide. In the UK these locations include Aberdeen Art Gallery, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Barclays Bank Collection, BBC, BMAG, Bristol City Art Gallery, British Council, British Museum, Contemporary Art Society, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Exeter University Fine Art Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, Gulbenkian Foundation, Granada Television, Hatton Gallery, Lakeland Arts Trust, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leicestershire County Council, Manchester City Art Gallery, MoMa, Oxford, National Museum of Wales, National Portrait Gallery, National Westminster Bank, Norwich Castle Museum, Oldham Art Gallery, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Pallant House Gallery, Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery, Pier Arts Centre, Plymouth City Art Gallery, Portsmouth Art Gallery, RAMM, Towner Art Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Southampton Art Gallery, Stirling University Art Collection, Tate Gallery, University of Warwick Art Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum. His daughter Katharine Heron, is an architect and Susanna Heron, a sculptor.

Bibliography: Patrick Heron by Mel Gooding. Published by Phaidon Press Ltd, 1995. ISBN: 0714834440.

Patrick Heron Garden Paintings by Andrew Wilson. Published by Tate Publishing, 2001. ISBN: 1854373544.

With thanks to artbiogs.co.uk

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