20th Century British Art
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Peter Wright (1919–2003)

Sculptor, potter and teacher who constantly explored his medium, from tablewares to abstraction and finally to figuration in a bid to make his material "sacred again". He was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, but brought up in Enfield. After Army service in World War II, Wright attended Hornsey College of Art, 1946-50, studying graphics but discovering clay. When he began teaching art at Sutton Coldfield College of Further Education Wright had to take ceramics classes, which called for rapid self-tuition. In 1954 he and his wife Sheila settled at Monkton Combe, near Bath in Somerset, an area which influenced his forms and decoration. The ceramics produced by William Newland, James Tower and Pablo Picasso were then important in Wright's development. He showed at venues such as the British Crafts Centre, Design Centre and, in 1957, the Victoria & Albert Museum and, by the late 195os, was producing his distinctive totemic forms, simply glazed and with incised or applied relief decoration. In 1957 Wright began teaching at Bath Academy of Art, then at the College of Education. The symbolism of the vessel remained a preoccupation until the mid-196os, when his work became more sculptural. Although he had lived in Bath for some years while continuing to keep a studio at Monckton Combe, in 1967 Wright moved solely to the city, where he had a series of successful exhibitions, with others abroad, several museums acquiring examples. By the late 1970s, he was concentrating on the small figurative interlocking sculptures for which he became best known. The Bristol Guild Gallery held a retrospective show in 2003.

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