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Patrick Heron

Born 1920, Leeds. Died 1999.

Patrick Heron studied part-time at the Slade School of Art in London between 1937 and 1939. From 1945-47 he wrote art criticism for the New English Weekly, from 1947-50 he wrote for New Statesmen and Nation and was London correspondent of the New York journal 'Arts' between 1955 and 1958.

Born in Headingley in Leeds, the son of T.M. Heron the founder of Cresta Silks. He spent much of his childhood in Cornwall and the association continued when from 1944 to 1945, as a conscientious objector to the Second World War, he took a job at Bernard Leach's Pottery, St Ives. The landscapes of the Cornish peninsula as well as the generation of artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth who lived there had a profound influence on Heron's artistic development. In turn, Patrick Heron became identified as one of the next generation of abstract painters such as Terry Frost who chose to live there in the 1950s and his home, Eagles Nest, offered not only an environment but a point of departure for his paintings.

His early work was figurative, influenced by the French painters Matisse and Braque. In 1956 he saw the first exhibition of American Abstract Expressionism held at the Tate Gallery in London and recognised its significance. Heron was particularly influenced by the large-scale canvases of Mark Rothko, which pay particular attention to the emotive aspects of colour. He turned to abstract painting, using stripes and then larger blocks of colour across the surface of his work.

His later paintings, especially those of the 1960s and 1970s, embody an organic awareness of form, where soft-edged lozenges of brilliant colour form an interactive relation with surrounding areas of canvas. Best known for his large scale, jewel-bright paintings, Heron also designed tapestry. One of his last projects was to design a stained glass window for the new Tate St Ives.

Throughout his career Heron exhibited widely and frequently throughout the UK as well in Europe, North America, Australia and South America. Over eighty solo shows are recorded among these and the list of many major public collections containing Heron’s work has a similar international reach.

From 1980 to 1987, Heron was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery, London. He was awarded a C.B.E. in 1977 and received Honorary Doctorates from Exeter and Kent Universities, the Royal College of Art, London and Winchester School of Art.

For more information on individual works see

Orange and Lemon with White
Four Vermilions
Untitled 1
Untitled 2