portrait of bernard reynolds as student

Portrait of Bernard

by fellow student Bernard Meadows


Bernard Reynolds (1915-1997) is an important East Anglian artist. He was born in Norwich and lived for almost fifty years in Ipswich. As a man who “lived by and for his art”, Bernard’s deep dedication to his calling was never in question. For although Bernard is most widely known as a sculptor, he possessed the capacity to be an inspirational teacher as well as an artist, and he fulfilled both of these roles with his own particular kind of integrity. Far from flamboyantly “arty”, Bernard’s approach was no less passionate for the application of a quietly rigorous self-imposed discipline to every project he undertook – and his projects were many and varied.

To take just a few examples of Bernard’s multiple pursuits: quite apart from working constantly on his sculpture, for many years he was also a regular curator of exhibitions throughout East Anglia, as well as being an extremely active member of several art groups including the Norwich 20 Group, of which he was co-founder. His wartime experience as an engineer seems to have nourished rather than stifled his artistic practice, adding to his constantly expanding knowledge of materials and techniques in the sculpture studio. He was also an accomplished draughtsman and printmaker. His curiosity about the natural environment led him to make many studies of nature’s forms and life, which reveal a precise and searching sensibility. He was an astute critic of art, whose carefully judged opinions were valued by colleagues, friends and students alike.

In April 1991, on the occasion of the private view of an exhibition of Bernard’s sculpture at the Chappel Galleries near Colchester, the painter Colin Moss commented that Bernard was “as near, in these days of specialization, to the archetypal renaissance man as one may find.” Implied in this remark is the extreme scarcity of the person who can have such a diversity of interests as Bernard’s and, crucially, attain excellence in all of them. That Bernard was such a rare individual seems to have been apparent: “He is the kind of man”, wrote Hamilton Wood of Bernard, “who does every job well.”

Bernard’s contribution to Art in East Anglia, as an artist, colleague and teacher, when combined with his sculpture and drawings, leaves a considerable legacy.


Pat Hurrell