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Peter Thursby - sculptor

Page updated 10th August 2011

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Peter Thursby started his career at Heles School, produced a major landmark sculpture in Exeter and went on to become a sculptor with an international reputation.

Born in Salisbury during 1930, he was the son of Major Lionel and Florence Thursby. He attended Bishop Wordsworth's School in Cathedral Close, Salisbury. After National Service he decided to train as a teacher at St Paul's College, Cheltenham between 1951 and 1953. His next move was in 1953 to the West of England College of Art in Bristol to develop his art before moving to Exeter, in 1955, to teach at the John Stocker Junior School. He married his wife, Mo Aspden, who was the daughter of Donald and Doris Aspden of Exeter, in 1956 at Heavitree Church. Thursby's first teaching post was not in art, but he soon moved on to Vincent Thompson High School as an art teacher, and then Heles School. After a few years he became Head of the Art School at Exeter College in 1972.

So far we have a biography of an art teacher - however, many art teachers never lose the need to produce work of their own and Peter Thursby through all this time was honing his ideas and skills, while passing his love and enthusiasm for his subject on to the many young people he taught. As early as 1957 he became a full member of the AIA in London, and a member of the Newlyn Society in 1959. All the time he had his work exhibited at various venues around the country. When the City Council were considering what to do to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, he suggested that he could produce a large sculpture to commemorate the occasion. He set to work at his studio at Oakley Close, Pinhoe, after his offer was accepted and soon a bronze foundry near Ashburton was commissioned to cast the piece. See the Casting of Looking Forward for the full story. At this time he started having maquettes of his large pieces, cast in bronze, for sale at more affordable prices.

Commissions started to flow, and in 1989 he gave up teaching, to work on his sculpture exclusively. He has used concrete, bronze and more recently silver, stainless steel and glass in his pieces. Thursby has produced large, architectural pieces for MacDonalds Head Office, London, Mazda Cars, Tunbridge Wells, Las Colinas, Dallas, USA, and many other customers in the UK and across the world.

In 1995 he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts by the University of the West of England. A biography called Peter Thursby, by former pupil Simon Olding and Vivienne Light has been published (2006).

Peter Thursby died at Lucerne House, Exeter at the age of 80 in January 2011.

Source - Express & Echo, Peter Thursby's website and my memory.

Looking Forward by Peter Thursby Peter Thursby Looking Forward by Peter ThursbyUnveiling Looking Forward - Peter Thursby left, and Mayor Roger Keast.

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