Anna Thornhill will talk about her father’s work and show her film Spirit in Mass – Journey into Sculpture.
Born in London, Thornhill studied at Oxford before enlisting in the Gloucestershire Regiment in the Second World War. After the war he decided he wanted to work creatively with his hands and enrolled at Camberwell Art School, in south-east London, where he began his lifelong exploration of clay.
Thornhill worked from a studio in Stroud and his pots were sold in Heals and selected for the Council of Industrial Design’s Index of Good Design. He exhibited regularly at the Guild of Gloucestershire Craftsmen.
After moving to Putney his work moved towards abstraction and he developed a technique of building with clay elements. He was inspired by the immense versatility and responsiveness of clay which enabled him to assemble, build and cut away. He also created ceramic tables which were sold at Heals in the 1960s.
Thornhill began making portrait heads of family and neighbours and then started to receive commissions. He also approached a number of well-known individuals whom he admired such as Tom Stoppard and Lord Mannie Shinwell.
During the 1970s and 80s and while he was teaching at Morley College, Alan worked on a bigger scale, developing his improvisatory approach to produce about 12 large works.
Alan created nearly 70 portrait heads from life of family, friends and well-known individuals.
You can see some of his work at the Museum in the Park Stroud.
For more information about the artist please click here