website of artist Steve Thorpe
Steve Thorpe: Artist Details


Rock Works I
Rock Works II
Dust Works
Sketch Books
Art Actions
Article I
Article II
Artist Details

book in stone
Steve Thorpe was born in Barnsley in 1953 and grew up on the edge of town, while it was still a thriving coal mining area. It may have been the sight of the conical grey slag heaps that grew higher and higher above the mines, but for some reason he was drawn to the peaks of moors and mountains of northern England and Wales, which he explored by walking and climbing. An exhibition of etchings at Barnsleys 'Cooper Art Gallery' led to the exciting realization that it was possible to connect his experience of the landscape with art.

After a false start studying architecture, art school proved to be the way forward. A move to Exeter College of Art in the 1970's allowed him to discover a new part of the country and to pursue work in printmaking with Marek Lacynski, and sculpture with Roger Dean, Work continued to be inspired by new environments and budget [i.e. rough] trips to Scotland, the Alps and Morocco. A broken back from a climbing accident in 1978 resulted in a miraculous escape from being in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. The pleasure of mobility remained a gift that never wore off.

A monk-like existence making art in his studio in Barnsley changed when he was offered the opportunity to enter into the wider world and teach printmaking in the local Art School. Teaching was immensely more pleasurable than he had been led to believe, and a move in 1980 to teach at Exeter College of Art, later to become University of Plymouth, meant an ever broadening education, in a position that encouraged a continual state of learning.

During this time Steve has exhibited his work in numerous one person and mixed shows. His first show was at Chesterfield College of Art in 1978 on the invitation of the printmaker, Don Wilkinson. In 1985 he won first prize in the South Yorkshire Open which fittingly led to a one person show at the Cooper Art Gallery, which had provided the original inspiration to be an artist. Other shows include: Leeds Polytechnic, Mappin Gallery, Sheffield, Plymouth Art Centre, Exe Gallery, Spacex, Unit 10 Gallery, Kayler Fine Art, Exeter University, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, The Custom House, Exmouth, Wesbourne Grove Church Art Space, London and The Triangle Gallery, Chelsea School of Art. Steve's 2007 show 'Works Of Friction' with Paul Ramsay at Gallery Terracina, Exeter is documented at

In the 1990's Steve made a connection with California through a visiting American artist and Showed his woodcuts in the 1994 UK/LA Festival. This led on to a teaching exchange and a stimulating period living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. During this year he was represented by the Tustin Gallery and had a one person show at The Kellog Gallery, Pomona.

After all this traveling, the idea of the stationary monk has remained most powerful, and Devon where he lives, has become the source of raw material, form and content. It was the Irish writer Frank O'Conner who said: 'The attraction of the religious life for the artist is overpowering. It is the attraction of a sort of life lived, or seeking to be lived, by standards other than those of this world…. The good priest, like the good artist, needs human rewards, but no human rewards can ever satisfy him.'

  site design: