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West Wing

Room 21

Room 3 of 16

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Tony O’Malley had a long connection with St Ives, Cornwall, living and working there for 30 years. A friend of St Ives School artists Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron, O’Malley’s work of the 1960s and ’70s has a good deal in common with that of the School. Exploring the landscape and its hidden histories – O’Malley likened the Cornish landscape to that of Ireland – his paintings are suffused with an elemental energy, and he delved within, seeking revelations about the psyche, in what he termed ‘inscapes’.

Peter Lanyon was encouraged by the scale of Abstract Expressionism and went to extreme measures to observe the panoramic views of the Cornish landscape, dying in a gliding accident in August 1964. Patrick Heron reeled at the varied possibilities of colour; he analysed natural forms through his use of tones, the colour becoming both the subject and the means.

William Turnbull’s Acrobat (1951) portrays an upright, elongated figure balancing precariously upon a unicycle, limbs outstretched and risking a potential calamity. In the late 1940s, Turnbull visited influential sculptors Brancusi and Giacometti (Room 17a), both of whom were to have a profound impact on Turnbull’s exploration of sculpture, formally and conceptually.