Rock Works I
Rock Works II
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 http://www.chameleonlectra.co.uk/worksoffriction/
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.'