Corner Gallery: Breon O’Casey Exhibition

5th October 2018 - 30th September 2019

The Corner Gallery houses regular displays of archival material and artwork which celebrate founding members and artists related to the Society. The current exhibition features original works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Breon O’Casey.

Breon O’Casey

1928–2011

‘I am an abstract painter closer, in my work,to the older definition of a still-life painter than a landscape painter. A painter, that is,who works best in the confines of his studio, and sees the world through a collection of pots and pans, apples and oranges (or circles,triangles and squares) rather than the fields,trees and skies. ’

Breon O’Casey was born in London, the son of Sean O’Casey, a playwright, and Eileen Reynolds, an actress. The family moved from London to Totnes in 1937 so that the children could attend Dartington Hall, a newly established progressive school.

‘It was at Dartington school that I learnt to saw and hammer,to think with my hands as well as my head. ’

Breon came to St Ives in the late 1950s, first moving into a studio at Piazza and from there to No. 3 Porthmeor Studios. During those early years, as well as painting, he worked as an assistant to Denis Mitchell and Barbara Hepworth. He also started to make jewellery (he was taught metalwork at school by Naum Slutzky), and formed a partnership with Bryan Illsley.

Throughout Breon’s time in St Ives, nearly twenty years, he played a very active role at the Penwith Society of Arts. He was vice chairman for more than ten years and was involved in setting up the print workshop and obtaining funds for the new extension.

Just before leaving St Ives Breon had started to weave on upright looms. He regarded the looms as a rough equivalent to a picture frame, and worked on the design accordingly. Sculpture came to Breon later in life. His sculpture evolved from making silver animal brooches.He then started to use wax as a material to make figures which were cast in bronze. And these grew in size!

Breon’s work has been shown in galleries all around the world, and is included in many public collections