Patrick Heron

Patrick Heron

Heron’s work is devoted to analyses of natural forms and colours. In his abstract works, particularly those made up of stripes and softer-edged shapes, he regularly uses colour to express the pleasure of sight as one of the most important human senses. Read more

Born in Yorkshire in 1920, Heron was the son of Thomas Milner, a clothes manufacturer, pacifist, socialist and leading member of the Leeds Arts Club. In 1925 the Heron family moved to Cornwall where Thomas Milner took over the running of Crysede, and four years later the family moved to Welwyn Garden City, where he founded the firm Cresta Silks.

On a school visit to the National Gallery in London in 1933 Heron saw paintings by Paul Cézanne for the first time. He immediately began to paint in a Cézanne-influenced style. Shortly after this he was asked to make designs for Cresta Silks (whom he continued to design for, on and off, until 1951). In 1937 he became a part-time student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London for two years. From 1940, registered as a conscientious objector, he worked as an agricultural labourer in Cambridge and Welwyn Garden City for four years before becoming an assistant at Bernard Leach's Pottery in St Ives in Cornwall and finally, in 1945, moving to Holland Park after marrying Delia Reiss.

He was art critic for the New English Weekly for two years before having his first one-man exhibition in 1947. His early work included many figurative studies such as The Gas Stove(1946) but the painting The Boats and the Iron Ladder (1947), with its complex patterning and unusual use of colours, showed the direction he was moving in. Influenced early on by Georges Braque and Henri Matisse, in 1956 he saw and praised highly the American Abstract Expressionists at the Tate Gallery. He was inspired by this group of eight painters, for their confidence and the large scale and flatness further influencing his abstract style; their influence can be clearly seen in Red Layers with Blue and Yellow(1957). After working as art critic at The New Statesman and Nation he began teaching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1953. In 1956 moved to Cornwall, finally to settle at Eagle's Nest in Zennor, where he continued to live and work until his death in 1999.


Patrick Heron will be showing work alongside the likes of David Bomberg, Clare Woods, Richard Long and fellow Kings Framers artist Sir Terry Frost at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art gallery (RAMM) The exhibiton,'Detached & Timeless: Contemporary Artists inspired by nature and spirit of place' will be an opportunity to see works by 25 of some of the most exciting and prominent artists from the 1960's to present.