Bernard Reynolds was a sculptor, draughtsman and print maker born in Norwich where, from 1932 to 1937, he studied at the School of Art. From 1937 to 1938 he attended Westminster School of Art but during the war was a naval electrical engineer, a remarkable change of career due to the circumstances, but a useful experience for later. After the war, in 1947, he returned to his art and after a fortuitous encounter with the Principal of Sheffield College of Art on a train journey, he was appointed lecturer in charge of Sculpture and Ceramics there. After a year he was appointed lecturer in 3-D studies at Suffolk College in Ipswich where he remained for 25 years. During his career as an artist his subjects were wide ranging, from children’s portraits to abstract distorted figures, the nude being a constant theme of his drawings for over 50 years. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and leading London Galleries as well as provincial ones such as the Chappel Galleries where, in 1991, a survey of his work was shown.
Reynolds was a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, a founding member of the Norwich Twenty Group in 1944, a member of the Colchester Art Society in 1946, soon after its formation, and President of Ipswich Art Society from 1992 to 1997. He joined the Wivenhoe Arts Club in 1966.
His special association with the East Anglian art scene influenced his involvement with the organization of exhibitions of East Anglian sculpture. The most notable ones took place at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich in 1975, 1978 and 1981. His sculptural work can be seen today in Ipswich with the Ship Fountain on Civic Drive roundabout and the Triple Mycomorph sculpture in Christchurch Park. The Victor Batte Lay Foundation owns one of his sculptures entitled Gull Head. In 1984 The Minories organized a retrospective touring exhibition of his work. Bernard Reynolds lived and worked around Ipswich for almost 50 years.
Bernard Reynolds was not only a prominent regional artist but a well-respected artist at a national level too. He was multi-talented and his work as an engineer during the war helped him with the use of metal in his sculpture. It gave him remarkable strength in the handling of the material. But it was his observation of nature which particularly distinguished him from other sculptors. He was interested in the solid forms of nature as in Parrot Head. This came from his interest in Post-Impressionist aesthetic theories, particularly those advocated by Roger Fry in his book Vision and Design (1920), which argued that works of art ought not to be judged by how accurately they represented reality. For him, experimentation with colour and form was more important than accurate perspective. Henry Moore also played an important part in Reynolds’s approach to sculpture and design. When he was a student at Norwich School of Art, Reynolds was assistant to the sculptor who was already well-known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures.
Reynolds developed this sculpture, now in Colchester Art Society’s Collection, from an earlier smaller series of Parrot Head sculptures. These were based on Reynolds's drawing of c. 1952 after the skull of Rubio - a macaw which belonged to Cedric Morris (q.v.). The earliest of these from 1958 was in Clipsham stone followed by a series in bronzes from 1971. Norwich Castle Museum owns the 1958 Parrot Head and a 1979 version made of bronze, as well as an etching of the Head. There is a large example of the sculpture in the Sculpture Garden above Castle Mall Shopping Centre in Norwich. The latter was installed in 1994.
BUCKMAN, David, Dictionary of artists in Britain since 1945, Art Dictionaries Ltd, Bristol, 1998, p. 1020
REYNOLDS, Gwynneth and HURRELL, Pat, The Sculptor Bernard Reynolds, Sansom & Company, 2009
REYNOLDS, Gwynneth and GRACE, Diana, Benton End Remembered, Unicorn Press, London, 2002