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60 years on, pioneering painter Martin Froy returns to Leeds
Martin Froy, Colour study for a Welsh Landscape, Watercolour on paper, 1980. © Martin Froy.

LEEDS.- In the 1950s, the University of Leeds introduced its innovative Gregory Fellowships in poetry, fine art and music — the first artist-in-residence programme of its kind at a UK university. Artist Martin Froy was its first Gregory Fellow in Painting between 1951 and 1954, selected by an advisory committee which included T.S. Eliot, Hebert Read, Henry Moore and Professor Bonamy Dobrée.

Sixty years after Froy completed his Fellowship in Leeds, the University has invited him back to showcase his artwork of the 1950s which so captivated the first Gregory Fellowship Advisory Committee, and also to explore how the Leeds residency affected his later practice. Placing Froy within the rich milieu of British figurative artists of the late 1950s and 60s, this exhibition will celebrate the contribution Froy made to British post-war figurative painting, in a tradition led by contemporaries such as Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud.

Martin Froy and the Figurative Tradition will open to the public on Wednesday, 7th May 2014. This exhibition is FREE and will run until Saturday, 2nd August 2014.

Martin Froy and the Figurative Tradition will be the third in an occasional series of exhibitions at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, which has celebrated the work of the Gregory Fellows. The Gregory Fellowship scheme was conceived by Yorkshire businessman Eric Craven Gregory in 1943. The scheme was planned to run from 1950-1959, but continued until 1980. Its objective was to encourage poets, painters, sculptors and musicians to work in the North of England. The Fellowship enabled artists to live and work in Leeds whilst presenting them with opportunities to develop their creative practice through coming into contact with new sources of inspiration at the University and in the city. Later Gregory Fellowships in Painting were awarded to Sir Terry Frost, Alan Davie, Trevor Bell and Dennis Creffield, among others.

Born in London in 1926, Martin Froy’s artistic talent was encouraged throughout his life. Froy grew up in a family with artistic connections. He was immersed in the London art scene from a young age and his intellectual and artistic interests were encouraged throughout his schooling. Froy was educated at the University of Cambridge and served in the RAF during WWII. Before arriving in Leeds, Froy attended the Slade School of Fine Art, where he studied alongside renowned artists and received several prizes for his work.

In 1954, after his Fellowship in Leeds, Froy took up a teaching post at the Bath Academy of Art, whilst continuing to make and exhibit his art. Having spent the years between 1966 and 1972 as the Head of Painting at the Chelsea School of Art, Froy went on to become Professor of Fine Art at the University of Reading, until he retired in 1991.

Froy’s work has appeared in galleries across the UK as well as internationally in New York, Brussels and Scandinavia. Today his artwork can be found in regional galleries such as The Hepworth Wakefield and the Mercer Art Gallery (Harrogate), as well as in national collections, including the Tate. Martin Froy lives in Reading, with his wife Catherine, and has fond memories of his time in Leeds.

This exhibition and accompanying illustrated catalogue has been made possible through the kind support of Steven Rich as well as the loan of artworks from The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery, the Arts Council Collection, and several private lenders.

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