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Peter Thursby (1930-2011)

Biography of painter and sculptor Peter Thursby (1930-2011)

Peter Thursby (1930-2011) was born in Salisbury, but brought-up in Jamaica. After National Service, he studied art at St Paul's, Cheltenham and then with Paul Feiler and Ernest Pascoe at the West of England College of Art.

Throughout the 1950s, Thursby's output was largely in the form of paintings. By 1957, his career became textural and fully abstract. From the early 1960s, his work was almost exclusively sculpture, winning his first major award in 1962.

Thursby had solo exhibitions at Plymouth Art Gallery in 1964 and the Marjorie Parr Gallery and began making sculpture from reclaimed materials.

In the 1970s, Thursby produced his Podmen Sculptures followed by the Sarum and Flight series. His monumental works, cast by the Morris Singer Foundry, came in the 1980s. Thursby gave generously of his time to art education and arts organisations, including the West of England Academy of which he was president for five years (1995-2000).

In 1995. Thursby he received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West of England in Bristol. His career culminated in his Optimism series, one of which is in the Queen's Collection. His legacy was a body of work that is widely recognised as a significant contribution to 20th century sculpture.

There is an excellent book on the artist written by Vivienne Light and Simon Olding and published by Canterton Books.

Peter Thursby, Paul Feiler and the St Ives School

Two people to whom Thursby acknowledged a debt and admiration are Paul Feiler and Ernest Pascoe. Both Slade graduates, they were his tutors at The West of England College of Art (now University of the West of England) between 1953-54. They each had a significant influence in Thursby's development as a sculptor.

In 1953, Feiler bought a chapel (once the studio of Stanhope Forbes) at Kerris near Penzance. This was the year Thursby became one of Feiler's students. In order to inspire his students in their work, Feiler actively forged a link between them and leading Cornish artists, arranging for the students to spend a two week period in Cornwall at studios, including those of Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton and Terry Frost. Thursby later became a member of both the Newlyn and Penwith societies.

Related Departments

Peter Thursby (1930-2011) Related Lots

Lot HO73/46

Lot HO73/46: Circle of Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Man Carrying Cube

Circle of Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Man carrying cube - bronze sculpture numbered 51/70 on rectangular marble base 15.5cm overall.

Estimate: £50 - £100
Realised: £70

Lot FS18/412

Lot FS18/412: Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - U Section III (Maquette)

Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - U Section III (maquette) initialed and numbered PT 1456718 aluminium sculpture height 14.9cm, width 10.8cm, depth 7.6cm.

Estimate: £400 - £600
Realised: £350

Lot FS18/410

Lot FS18/410: Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Head in Green 1962

Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Head in Green 1962 signed and dated Peter Thursby '62 bottom right inscribed on an exhibition label attached to the reverse 59.5 x 3875cm Exhibited. Topsham 2011.

Estimate: £250 - £350
Realised: £300

Lot FS18/411

Lot FS18/411: Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Drawing For Sculpture

Peter Thursby [1930-2011] - Drawing for Sculpture signed in pencil bottom right bodycolour and watercolour over graphite 49 x 32.5cm, unframed This drawing is a preparatory sketch for the bronze sculpture Looking Forward in the Guildhall Square, Exeter, commissioned for the Queens Silver Jubilee, 1977.

Estimate: £150 - £250
Realised: £160