Peter Thursby was a British sculptor and painter. Born in Wiltshire in 1930, Thursby, the son of an army officer, spent much of his childhood in Jamaica. After completing his National Service, Thursby continued to serve for some time in the Reserve of Officers after having pursued further training at the Mons Officer Cadet School. His artistic education, however, did not begin until 1951, when Thursby attended St Paul’s College of Education, Cheltenham to train as a teacher before enrolling at the West of England College of Art. During this time, Thursby primarily focused his artistic efforts on producing paintings, albeit increasingly textural, abstract compositions. The artist’s interest in sculpture first began to develop during his time at the Exeter College of Art and Design, where he studied between the years of 1954 – 1960.
Thursby’s early sculptural work was characterised by distinctly hard, mechanic qualities, in line with much of the art produced in the brutal wake of the Second World War. This early, architectural use of figuration would later soften into a more responsive, modernistic approach – but Thursby’s output in the early years of his sculptural career was marked with celebration and success. His first solo exhibition was held at the Plymouth Art Gallery in 1964, followed by several regular shows at the Majorie Parr Gallery, London. Between the late 1950s and early 1970s, Thursby was an active member of both the Newlyn and, later, the Penwith Society whilst continuing to teach art and sculpture at several local schools. His sculptures developed considerably throughout the latter part of his career, with increasingly architectural and organic elements being considered alongside more figurative forms. Thursby was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1990, and served for many years as the President of the Royal West of England Academy. The artist died in 2011.