Bernard Meadows British, 1915-2005

Bernard William Meadows was born at Norwich in 1915 and  trained as a painter at the Norwich School of Art. In 1937 he moved to London and studied at the Royal College of Art and the Courtauld Institute while working as an assistant to Henry Moore in his studio in Hampstead and from 1983, as Acting Director, and later consultant, of the Henry Moore Foundation.


Whilst serving in the RAF during World War II, Meadows spent time in the Cocos Islands, where the greatest natural hazard was a variety of gigantic crabs, which fascinated Meadows and whose forms he later adapted to his sculpture. He found in crabs and later, birds, a way of escaping the influence of Moore. Meadows explained that his work was ‘all about the human condition. The crabs, and the birds, and the armed figures, the pointing figures, are all about fear... perhaps not fear, its vulnerability’.


In 1960, after twelve years  teaching at Chelsea School of Art, he was invited to the Royal College of Art, as Professor of Sculpture, whose high-quality pupils included Elisabeth Frink.  Bernard Meadows’ work can be found in the permanent collections of most major museums of modern art. 1995 marked his 80th birthday, with an exhibition of his work at the Gimpel Fils Gallery in London. He served as a member of the Fine Art Commission from 1971 to 1976 and was offered, but declined, a CBE. 


His commissions included Festival of Britain in 1951. Meadows’ sculpture was both abstract and abstract with figurative allusions, in which dynamic energy can be concentrated. There was an eightieth-birthday show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, in 1995, with a retrospective at Gimpel Fils. Chappel Galleries, Chappel, held a show of drawings and sculpture in 2001. Tate Gallery and many other public collections hold examples.