Kit Twyford obituary

Other lives: Sculptor whose work dealt largely with landscape and architecture

My husband, Kit Twyford, who has died aged 79, was a sculptor and art school lecturer. He had commercial success with one-man exhibitions and also in group shows alongside Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Kevin Armitage and Lynn Chadwick.

Born in Sheffield, he was one of four children of Dorothy (nee Ward) and Hector. His father was a teacher at King Edward VII grammar school in the city, where Kit was educated. He then studied at Sheffield Art College (where we met as fellow students, marrying in 1960) and from 1957 to 1962 at the Slade in London. From there, he won an Italian government scholarship through the British Council to study at the Brera academy of fine arts in Milan.

Returning from Italy, Kit taught at Leeds Art College, and then at Ravensbourne, in south-east London, where he was a generous colleague and an influential, if independent, figure within the sculpture department. Former students recall that he really listened, didn’t pre-judge, and “never made you feel stupid”. He had a wicked sense of humour, once appearing as Rodin’s Balzac in dressing gown and slippers, and was the life and soul of the party, whether playing harmonica or cooking a barbecue for 200 students.

Kit Twyford
Kit Twyford worked mainly in steel in the latter part of his life, but also in cast bronze, marble, alabaster and wood Photograph: None

Meanwhile, his sculpture gained recognition. He created abstract pieces, working mainly in steel in the latter part of his life, but also in cast bronze, marble, alabaster and wood. His first one-man show, at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 1969, was warmly reviewed by Peter Fuller for Harper’s Bazaar: “One derives a continuing pleasure from living with a Twyford piece; it’s like having a thought bank in the house which throws out ideas every time one glances at it.”

Commercial success followed, with shows at other London galleries including Pomeroy Purdy (1989-90), the Berkeley Square Gallery (1990), outdoor exhibitions at Roche Court in Wiltshire, organised by the New Art Centre, and – also in the early 1990s – a public display of monumental works in the Economist Plaza in central London.

Ravensbourne fine art department closed in 1986, and Kit moved permanently to Clapham, near Settle in North Yorkshire, also spending many months each year in Dolceacqua, northern Italy. Now full time in his studio, he dealt largely with landscape and architecture, influenced by the surroundings of both places. Space, light and a formal simplicity were his guiding principles.

He took on new themes, drawn from figurative roots, especially Picasso’s paintings of women. Continuing his interest in organic form, he achieved a fluidity rarely seen in welded steel – complex curves and volumes realised by multiple cutting and welding – a contrast to the rigid bar, beam and sheet sculpture commonly associated with the medium. These sculptures achieve a rare combination of strength, beauty and grace, without ever becoming merely decorative.

Kit was a meticulous craftsman, with a conviction that sculpture was capable of expressing the full range of human experience. This approach could come only from a man full of the love of life.

He is survived by me, our sons, Jacob and Ben, and five grandchildren.

Jacquie Twyford

The GuardianTramp

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