TALK: ‘Life of Brian’ with Richard Cork & Brian Taylor’s Family

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Saturday 17 November 2018

Brian Taylor’s son Gabriel with his portrait busts

The picture created of Brian Taylor by his family and friends after being gently probed by the former art critic of the Times, Richard Cork in a discussion at Messums Wiltshire was of a quiet and ‘very difficult man’ but also one passionately devoted to his art.
‘I was told I couldn’t meet Brian because he was in a black depression,’ said the wife of Brian Taylor recalling their first encounter at St Martin’s art school where she was a pupil and he was her teacher. ‘So I went up to him and told him that we had a tutorial booked. I knew I had a lot to learn and he said you need four, one hour drawing classes in the sculpture department.‘
Their son Gabriel described how he sat ‘for hours’ for his father, starting from when he was six years old to create some of the best loved sculptures the artist did.
‘When he was working he wouldn’t be interrupted by anything; he was totally absorbed in what he was doing. He was a man of few words and there weren’t ongoing exchanges. When you sat for him, you felt you had arrived in his territory. We watched old films and DVD’s or listened to cassette tapes as we sat for him for sessions that lasted for up to three hours and sometimes longer.’
‘I did fall asleep when he was sculpting me – which is why my head is down in one of the portraits’
Gabriel added that he continues to see new things in the sculptures made by his father. ‘You can never take enough from these pieces. He was temperamental and could be stubborn but he was a genius with his work.’
Michelle said; ‘He was very temperamental and didn’t talk a lot. He hated small talk – the important things in life were sculpture, gardening and cooking. He was always busy.
Even though I was a painter and he was a sculptor we didn’t clash; he believed the fundamental basis of all our work was drawing ; he was a great lover of painting, in particular Masaccio and Della Francesca.
He understood that painting was all about painting the person from the inside and he applied the same principles to his sculptures.
You really get a sense of the personality of the people he worked on. He told the individual story about them.’

Read more about our exhibition ‘Brian Taylor: A Retrospective’ at

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