Terry Whybrow was born in St Pancras, London, in 1932.
He wanted to take up art from school, but his parents persuaded him to study design instead as a safer career option in the difficult post-war period. He then worked as a furniture designer in London for many years, but always painted part-time, showing his work at the outdoor exhibitions held on Hampstead Heath. He began as a figurative painter and portraitist, before gradually moving towards abstraction. Eventually, he and his wife decided that, having raised their family, they wanted to devote their lives fully to art and writing respectively. They came on a holiday to St Ives for Christmas 1979, and fell under the spell of the Cornish light and landscape. By 1980 they had bought a cottage in the heart of St Ives, where Terry still lives and works today.
Upon moving to Cornwall Terry was heavily influenced by the abstract movement that had been based in St Ives in the mid-twentieth century, particularly the work of Ben Nicholson and Sir Terry Frost. Reversing the trend of many artists, however, the abstract shapes and forms of his early work gradually developed into the fruit and bowls of the still-life paintings for which he has become well-known, whilst always retaining a strong sense of composition and structure from his design background. He has always been concerned with the stillness and balance of the image whether figurative or totally abstract. If a painting does not sit quietly, and the contents are not in harmony, then it doesn’t work. His current work may appear as figurative still life, but in fact it is a means of using shape, in the forms of pots, pears, etc, where they sit and overlap, to complement and coalesce one with another to create harmony. Thus, having travelled through figuration, abstraction and back, the same objectives always remain in his work: harmony and silence.
Terry’s paintings have been shown widely across the UK and especially in the South East where he has a particularly strong following. His work has also been exhibited world-wide and is held in private collections globally.
‘While working in London the paintings were hard edge abstractions of urban life, but on settling in Cornwall thirty years ago, all previous ideas and influences were overshadowed by the strength and textures of Cornwall, and so the visual adventure once again took its path. Having explored the elements offered by the landscape and sea in an abstract way, I found the work condensing to a point where construction became more important than the story – in other words, to where a form sits in relation to another; and so this statement, like the journey, has gone full circle’.