© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre
Painter, creator of cartoon strips, prints, boxed assemblages and “books of a sort” and teacher, who was born in Ilkley, Yorkshire. Left school at 14 and worked for a time as an apprentice fitter, lathe turner and crane driver. He was an auto-didact who “through an enthusiasm for poetry discovered Surrealism in the mid-40s ‘which changed my life’”. This started him on making his various artefacts and “all in all making a general nuisance of myself”.
His assemblages sometimes used found objects and were noted for their biting wit and singular vision. Tony Earnshaw was the subject of several television films. Published a number of shrewd, witty and aphoristic books, titles including Wintersol (with Eric Thacker), 1971; Flick Knives and Forks, 1981; and Carping and Kicking, 1987. His exhibitions included a retrospective at Leeds Institute, 1966; Angela Flowers, 1972; Dean Clough Contemporary Art Gallery, Halifax, 1986–8–92; retrospective at Leeds City Art Gallery, 1987; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 1988; and Flowers East, 2000. After his 1966 show Earnshaw was offered a day’s teaching weekly at Harrogate School of Art, which led to other teaching; in 1972, he was granted a fellowhip at Leeds Polytechnic; then from 1985 concentrated on his own work full-time. Arts Council and Leeds City Art Gallery hold his work. Lived at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland.
Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)