Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)


Ayrton established himself as an energetic and prolific artist whose work was cut short by his death aged 54.  He was a versatile and respected painter, sculptor, etcher, illustrator, theatre designer, film director, radio broadcaster, art critic and novelist. 

During his late teenage years, he spent time in Paris with his close friend John Minton, the two heavily influenced by the French neo-romantics of the time.  Invalided out of the RAF, Ayrton taught life drawing and theatre design at  Camberwell School of Art and later followed Graham Sutherland to Pembrokeshire, spending summers painting landscapes.  The impact of Sutherland’s work is clear in Ayrton’s paintings.  From the late 1940s he became increasingly concerned with sculptural form and by the 1950s was sculpting in bronze, receiving encouragement from Henry Moore.

In the last years of his life, Ayrton lived near Great Bardfield in the village of Toppesfield, although he appears to have had little in common with other artists of the area.  He exhibited widely in Britain and abroad and his works are held in many public collections.

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