Michael Lyons Sculptor 2018Michael Lyons (b.1943 – d.2019) gained recognition in the 1960s when he was included in exhibitions such as the ICA’s ‘Young Contemporaries’ and the Whitworth’s ‘Northern Young Contemporaries’. By the mid-1970s he was one of the finest steel sculptors of his generation, whose potent, architectural forms commanded attention in their relation to landscape. ‘Heights of David’ (1976–77), exhibited at London’s Serpentine Gallery, Manchester’s Whitworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, confirmed and embodied this.


Lyons’ sculpture ranges from steel constructions, rooted in the tradition of Picasso, González and David Smith, to organic bronzes modelled on an intimate or monumental scale; although abstract, it draws on aspects of nature, myth and ancient cultures. A visit to China in 1993 profoundly influenced the development of Lyons’ work through teaching and making sculpture in Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and many other cities. Residencies in Mexico, Germany, USA, Turkey and Cyprus have resulted in numerous large–scale sculptures produced in relation to these countries’ cultures and sculptural traditions. During a residency at Shanghai Sculpture Park in 2009 Lyons produced a monumental clay work ‘Voice of the Mountain: Sudden Storm’, subsequently cast in bronze in 2011 and sited in the Park.


‘Fènix Balears’, a large-scale private commission in corten steel, was installed in Palma, Mallorca, in 2015.


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Lyons’ drawings and sculpture are represented in the collections of the Canary Wharf Group, Arts Council England, Henry Moore Institute, Yale Centre for British Art and galleries throughout Britain and abroad. Lyons was a founding member of Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Vice-President of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.


‘The Sculpture of Michael Lyons’ by Dr Judith LeGrove was published by Sansom and Company in 2013 to mark the sculptor’s 70th Birthday.


Michael Lyons passed away at his home in Cawood, North Yorkshire in April 2019. He is survived by his wife Stephanie, his son David and his daughter Anna.





1943 Born 10 July, at Bilston, Staffordshire
1959–63 National Diploma in Design, Wolverhampton College of Art
1964–67 BA in Fine Art (Sculpture) from the Department of Fine Art, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1970 Marries Stephanie Kay, whom he had met while they were students in the Department of Fine Art at Newcastle upon Tyne. Son David born in 1975 and daughter Anna in 1978
1977 Resume:cv 2Moves to Nether Farm, Cawood, near York; establishes studio
1993 Takes early retirement from teaching to concentrate fully on own work. First of many visits to China
2004 First of many visits to Mexico and South America
2010 Seriously ill with peritonitis as a result of ulcerative colitis; spends three months in hospital and undergoes long period of convalescence



1969–72 University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1972–74 Hull College of Art
1974–85 Manchester Polytechnic, Department of Fine Art
1985–89 MA Course Leader in Fine Art, Manchester Polytechnic
1987 Visiting lecturer at the Universities of Alberta (Edmonton), Lethbridge (Alberta), and Emily Carr College (British Columbia), Canada
1989–93 Head of Sculpture, Manchester Polytechnic
1993 Guest Professor, China Academy of Art (formerly Zheijang Academy), Hangzhou, China; visiting lecturer at Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
2001 Visiting lecturer at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
2002 Guest Professor, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, China



1977 Yorkshire Arts Visual Arts Panel (Chairman, 1979)
1977–92 Management Committee of Yorkshire Sculpture Park (founding member): co-organiser of the inaugural exhibition, 1977; co-organiser of the exhibition ‘Wood’ with Peter Murray CBE, 1979; advisor to ‘Barbara Hepworth Retrospective’, 1980; advisory committee for ISC international Conference on ‘Sculpture and Landscape’ and selector and co-organiser for ‘Views and Horizons’, a major survey exhibition of British Sculpture in a landscape setting which accompanied the conference, 1983; selector for ‘Attitudes 84’, 1984
1997–2006 Trustee of the Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture, Shropshire
2001 Advisor to the ‘Art and Science’ International Exhibition and Global Symposium for Tsinghua University’s 90th Anniversary, Beijing, China
2005 International Co-ordinator (China) for ‘Iron Bridging Art + Technology: Past, Present + Future’, the 5th International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art (2006), Ironbridge, Shropshire
2011–13 Selector for EWAA (East-West Art Award) International Art Competition



1992 Associate, Royal British Society of Sculptors
1993 Council, Royal British Society of Sculptors
1994 Fellow, Royal Society of Arts; Fellow, Royal British Society of Sculptors
1994–97 Vice-President, Royal Society of British Sculptors


Residencies and symposia

1984 Residency, Grizedale Forest, Cumbria
1987 Symposium of Steel Sculpture, Kleinewefers Engineering Works, Krefeld, Germany; Artist in Residence, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
1998 3rd International Sculpture Symposium, Yuzi Paradise, Guilin, China
1999 3rd International Sculpture Symposium, Changchun, China
2000 TEDA (Tianjin Economic Development Area) International Urban Sculpture Symposium, Tianjin, China; 1st West Lake International Sculpture Exhibition and Symposium, Hangzhou, China; residency at Cyprus College of Art, Lempa, Cyprus
2001 Resume:CV 3International Sculpture Symposium, Yanqing, China; Red Gate Gallery residency at Bei Gao Studio, Beijing, China; residency at Vermont Studio Center, USA


2002 Red Gate Gallery residency at Bei Gao Studio, Beijing, China; Cast Iron Sculpture Workshop at Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture
2004 XIII International Symposium of Sculpture in Stainless Steel, Tultepec, Mexico; 1st International Symposium of Monumental Steel Sculpture, Tijuana, Mexico
2005 International Sculpture Symposium on the Theme of Peace, Beijing and Penglai City, Shandong Province, China; XIV International Symposium of Sculpture in Stainless Steel, Tultepec, Mexico
2006 5th International Symposium of Sculpture, University of Guadalajara, Mexico; Chaco International Sculpture Biennale, Resistencia, Argentina; 2nd International Symposium of Stainless Steel Sculpture, Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico
2007 XVI International Symposium of Sculpture in Stainless Steel, San Luis Potosí / Tultepec, Mexico
2008 3rd West Lake International Sculpture Exhibition and Symposium, Hangzhou, China
2009 XVIII International Symposium of Sculpture in Stainless Steel, Tultepec, Mexico; Artist-in-residence, Shanghai Sculpture Park, Shanghai, China; 8th International Symposium of Sculpture, Büyükçekmece, Turkey; Cast Iron Sculpture Workshop at Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture
2014 Aldeburgh Beach Lookout (Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary)


Solo exhibitions

1971 DLI Museum and Arts Centre, Durham
1972 Park Square Gallery, Leeds
1973 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
1975 Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield
1977 ‘Michael Lyons: Sculpture’, The Manor House, Ilkley
1978 ‘Outdoor Sculpture at the Whitworth I’, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester
1979 ‘Michael Lyons: Summer Show 1’, Serpentine Gallery, London
1982 ‘Michael Lyons: Drawings and Sculpture’, Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1984 ‘Michael Lyons’, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
1985 Arcade Gallery, Harrogate
1987 ‘Drawings & Maquettes for Doves of Peace’, Holden Gallery, Manchester Polytechnic
1990 ‘Sculpture in a Garden Setting’, Wingfield College (now Wingfield Barns), Suffolk
1995 Woodlands Art Gallery, London; Artforum, 10 Fleet Place, London
1996 ‘Forming the Wind’, Atrium Gallery, Coopers & Lybrand, London
1997 ‘Maquettes: Michael Lyons’, Loughborough College of Art
1998 ‘Michael Lyons – Sculpture and Works on Paper’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
2002 Resume:CV 4‘Michael Lyons – Sculpture and Drawings’, Pickled Art Centre, Beijing, China
2003–04 ‘Under Heaven: A Chinese Odyssey – Sculpture and Drawings by Michael Lyons’, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester
2004 ‘“Points of Connection”: Michael Lyons – Drawings and Sculpture’, Angelus Gallery, Winchester College Art School
2006 ‘Michael Lyons – Outdoor Sculpture’, DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery (World Culture 2006 Festival)
2009 ‘First Light: China Morning’, Salon Gallery, Royal British Society of Sculptors, London (opened by Andrea Rose, former Head of Visual Art at the British Council)
2010– ‘Continuity’, Drawings and Outdoor Sculpture, York Teaching Hospital
2013 ‘Artist’s Rocks: Echo and Revelation’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; ‘Mithras Suite’, New School House Gallery, York; ‘Michael Lyons: Sculpture and Drawings – A Retrospective Exhibition’, 108 Fine Art, Harrogate
2014 ‘Scale Appropriate’, One Canada Square and Jubilee Gardens, Canary Wharf
2015 Aldeburgh Beach Lookout (Caroline Wiseman): new drawings, photographs, poems and sculptures in clay and wax
2015 ‘Half-Light’, New School House Gallery, York
2016 ‘Freeze Frame’(Sculpture and Drawings from the 70’s and 80’s), Stanley and Audrey Burton Galley, University of Leeds(opened by William Packer, painter and writer)


2017 ‘Full Circle’ Wolverhampton Art Gallery (bronze casting of ‘Voice of the Mountain: Subterranean Shift’ 2008 and the film ‘Full Circle’ by Agata Wasiewska enabled by the Art Gallery)
2018 ‘Machines and Myths’ – Sculptures, Drawings and Prints by Michael Lyons, Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. In conjunction with ‘The Great Exhibition of the North’


Group exhibitions (selected)

1966 ‘Young Contemporaries’, FBA Gallery, London
1967 BA exhibition, University of Newcastle upon Tyne; ‘Northern Young Contemporaries’, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
1971 ‘Newcastle University Centenary Exhibition’, Hatton Gallery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1975 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
1977 ‘Opening Exhibition’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
1978 ‘Drawing in Action’, Camden Arts Centre and tour; ‘Sculpture at Tatton Park’, Knutsford; ‘Nine Sculptors’, Grosvenor Gallery, Manchester Polytechnic
1979 ‘Current British Sculpture’, Norwich Triennial Festival
1979–80 ‘The British Art Show’ (selected by William Packer), Sheffield, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bristol
1980 ‘The Newcastle Connection’, Polytechnic Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne
1980–88 ‘Sculpture at Glenshee’, Cairnwell, Scotland
1982 ‘Sculpture at Margam: Maquettes for Public Sculpture’, Margam Park, Port Talbot; ‘Sculpture for a Garden’, Tatton Park
1983–84 ‘Views and Horizons’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; ‘Tyne Tees Northern Open’, Sunderland Arts Centre and tour
1983–89 ‘Sculpture in a Country Park’, Margam Park, Port Talbot
1984 ‘Festival Sculpture’, International Garden Festival, Liverpool; ‘A Sense of Place: Sculpture in Landscape’, Sunderland Arts Centre and Tour
1986 ‘Open-Air Sculpture Show’, Hull, Lincoln, Scunthorpe; RIBA Sculpture Court, London; Beaux Arts Gallery, Bath
1987 ‘Small Sculptures’, Holden Gallery, Manchester Polytechnic; ‘New Art in Yorkshire’, Yorkshire Contemporary Arts Society, Jacob Kramer Gallery, Leeds
1987–88 ‘Steel Sculpture’ (touring): Parc Burg Linn, Krefeld, Germany; Wantji Park, Dordrecht, Holland; Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; Middelheim Park, Belgium; Yorkshire Sculpture Park
1988 ‘Impressions of Cumbria’, Gallery North, Kirkby Lonsdale
1990 Roche Court Sculpture Garden, Salisbury; Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Mottisfont Abbey
1991–2013 Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture, Shropshire
1992 Roche Court Sculpture Garden, Salisbury; ‘Millfield British 20th Century Sculpture Exhibition’, Millfield School, Somerset
1993 ‘Chelsea Harbour Sculpture 93’, Royal British Society of Sculptors, London
1993–96 Sculpture at Goodwood, West Sussex
1994 Roche Court Sculpture Garden, Salisbury; ‘Abstract Art: The Next Generation’, Mall Galleries, London (United Abstract Artists); ‘Sculptors Drawings’, Sledmore Gallery, London
1995 ‘Summer Exhibition’, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Osterley Park Sculpture Trail, London; Roche Court Sculpture Garden, Salisbury; ‘Thirty Years of the Northern Young Contemporaries’, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester; ‘Northern Prospects’, Harewood House, Leeds; ‘Cities 95’, G-Mex, Manchester
1996 ‘Summer Exhibition’, Royal Academy of Arts, London; ‘Flowers in May’, King of Hearts Gallery, Norwich
1996–97 ‘Chelsea Harbour 96’, Royal British Society of Sculptors, London
1997 ‘Filosofgangen’, Odense, Denmark (Riimfaxe Assoc.); Roche Court Sculpture Garden, Salisbury; ‘Northern Lights’, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate; ‘Exhibition of models for Sheffield City Centre Sculpture Competition’, Graves Art Gallery (including Bill Woodrow and Shirazeh Houshiary)
1998–2000 ‘“A Labour of Love”, drawings and models by British Sculptors from “Sculpture at Goodwood”’ (touring): Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany; Nordbrabants Museum, S’hertogenbosch, Holland; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
1999 ‘Four Centuries of Sculpture’, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
2000 ‘Bright Light Still Form’, Canary Wharf, London; ‘Sculpture in the Square Mile: Truth to Materials?’, City of London Festival, organised by the City Gallery, London; ‘The Music Show’, Bruton Gallery, Leeds
2001 Tsinghua University’s 90th Anniversary Exhibition: ‘Art & Science’, China National Art Gallery, Beijing, China; Open Studios, Vermont Studio Center, USA; ‘Summer Exhibition’, Royal Academy of Arts, London
2002 ‘Blue Space’ Beijing Aquarium Sculpture Exhibition, Beijing, China; Newby Hall Contemporary Sculpture Park
2003 ‘Guilin Yuzi Paradise International Sculpture Awards Exhibition, China; 1st Beijing International Art Biennale (Millennium Galleries and China National Art Gallery) Beijing, China; BLOK’, Canterbury Festival of Sculpture; ‘Summer Exhibition’, Hart Gallery, Nottingham
2004 ‘Monumental Stainless Steel Sculpture’, San Luis Potosí Arts Festival, Mexico; ‘Monumental Sculpture in Stainless Steel’, IMSS, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City; Newby Hall Contemporary Sculpture Park
2004–2017 ArtParkS, Guernsey
2005–10 ‘Sculpture at Sotheby’s’, Chichester, West Susssex
2005 ‘Monumental Sculpture in Stainless Steel’, IMSS, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City; Instituto Tlaxcalteca de la Cultura Tlaxcala, Mexico; 2nd Beijing International Art Biennale, China; Royal British Society of Sculptors, Annual Exhibition, London; ‘Sculpture in the Age of Aquarius: Seventies Sculpture in the Arts Council Collection’, Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
2005–06 ‘Monumental Stainless Steel Sculpture’, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
2006 ‘Public Art for Beijing Olympics: City Sculpture Proposal’, Beijing; Chaco International Sculpture Biennale, Resistencia, Argentina
2006–08 Newby Hall Contemporary Sculpture Park
2007 ‘Open 10 International Exhibition of Sculpture and Installation’, Venice Lido, Italy; Instituto Tlaxcalteca de la Cultura, Tlaxcala, Mexico; ‘Monumental Sculpture in Stainless Steel’, IMSS, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City
2008 Kiku Gallery, Osaka, Japan; ‘Monumental Sculpture in Stainless Steel’, Puebla, Mexico; ‘Steel Sculpture’, 58th IREPAS, Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Istanbul; St Jacobi Church, Hamburg, Germany; 1st Guadalajara Sculpture Biennale Exhibition, Museo de las Artes, University of Guadalajara, Mexico
2008–09 ‘Into Abstraction’, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate
2009 ‘Strategies of Form: Steel Sculpture’, MARCO (Museum of Contemporary Art), Monterrey, Mexico; ‘Sixth Sense’, Gallery Six, Imperial Wharf, Chelsea Harbour, London; ‘UK/Japan’, Lennox Gallery, Chelsea, London
2010 4th Beijing International Art Biennale, Millennium Galleries, Beijing, China; Palmer Biennale (Adelaide, Australia); Sculpture Promenade, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge; Newby Hall Contemporary Sculpture Park
2010– ‘Permanent Exhibition of Monumental Sculpture in Parque Bicentenario’, Metepec, State of Mexico
2011 ‘A Decade of Sculpture in the Garden’ Botanic Garden, Leicester University
2011–12 ‘London Bridge City Sculpture Exhibition’, Thames Walkway, Hay’s Wharf, London; ‘United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 70s’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
2012 London Art Fair; ‘Sculptors’ Drawings’, Pangolin London and University of Northumbria; 5th Beijing International Art Biennale, Millennium Galleries, Beijing, China
2012–13 ‘Outdoor Sculpture in Stainless Steel from the International Symposium of Miguel Hernandez Urbán’, Macay Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
2013 ‘Britten 100 Festival Exhibition’, Strand Gallery, Aldeburgh; 20/21 British Art Fair, London
2014 London Art Fair; ‘2nd International Steel Sculpture Exhibition’, Sebastian Foundation, Mexico City, Mexico
2014–15 ‘Narrating Objects: Unlocking the Stories of Sculpture’, Leeds Art Gallery
2015 Lenten Cover sited as five-year loan at University of Leeds (part of Campus Art Trail)
2016 Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, St. Mary’s, York; London Art Fair; City of London Corporation -‘Sculpture in the City 2016’
2017 ‘Sculptors’ – photographs by Anne Purkiss, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; 20/21 British Art Fair, Mall Galleries, London
2018 Photographs by Anne Purkiss ‘Faces of Sculpture: Portrait of a Profession’, Royal Society of Sculptors, London; London Art Fair (Katherine House Gallery; British Art Fair (Architectural Heritage)



Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London; Birmingham Museums; Bradford City Art Galleries; Municipality of Büyükçekmece, Istanbul; Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary; Government of Changchun, China; Government of Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico; Dudley MBC; East Suffolk Council; Ferens Art Gallery: Hull Museums; University of Guadalajara, Mexico; Government of Hangzhou, China; Hepworth Wakefield; Jerwood Foundation; Leeds Museums and Galleries (Art Gallery); University of Leeds (Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery); University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; Manchester City Galleries; Northern Arts Association; Norwich Union, York; Government of Penglai City, China; University of Portsmouth; Provident Financial Collection, Bradford; Qiang Giang New City Development, Hangzhou, China; Sentul City Park, Bogor, Indonesia; Shanghai Sculpture Park, China; Museums Sheffield; Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico; TEDA College, Nankai University, Tianjin, China; Urunday Foundation and City of Resistencia, Argentina; Villacero Foundation Monterrey, Mexico; Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester; Yale Center for British Art; Yanqing Government, China; Yorkshire Arts Association; Private Collections in the UK, USA, China, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Germany and Mallorca; Hiscox Collection, York



1985–6 Doves of Peace, commissioned by Manchester City Council
1989–90 Pinnacle, for Crystal Peaks Shopping Centre, Sheffield
1990 Argonaut, commissioned by Hampshire Sculpture Trust for Portsmouth University
1993 Spring Tide, commissioned by Arthur Andersen & Co. for the Euro Business Award presented to Pace Micro Technology Ltd, Bradford
2002 Dawn of Time, commissioned by Dudley Metropolitan Council; Primal Energy: Earth Air Continuum, commissioned by Wingfield Arts & Music, Suffolk
2009 Voice of the Mountain: Sudden Storm commissioned by Shanghai Sculpture Park (cast and sited in 2011)
2014 Fènix Balears, for private collection in Palma, Mallorca


Awards, grants, prizes

1967 Peter Stuyvesant Prize for Sculpture – Northern Young Contemporaries, Manchester
1970– Grants from Arts Council, Thornton Bequest for Bronze Casting, grants from Yorkshire Arts
1993 Yorkshire Arts Award
1996 Elephant Trust (grant towards Yorkshire Sculpture Park Exhibition)
2000 Yorkshire Arts Award
2003 First Light: China Morning wins Yuzi Prize (joint first prize) at 1st Guilin Yuzi Paradise International Sculpture Awards, Guilin, China; Arts Council of England (Yorkshire) Award
2006 Premio Nacional Fondo del las Artes, Chaco Biennale of Sculpture 2006, Argentina (prize for sculpture awarded by the National Fund for the Arts); Arts Council of England (Yorkshire) Award to attend Chaco Biennale of Sculpture 2006 and travel in Argentina
2007 British Council Award for Artists (‘Open 10’, Venice, Italy)


Bibliography (recent)

Peter Murray, David Sweet, Michael Lyons, ‘Michael Lyons’ [exhibition catalogue], Yorkshire Sculpture Park (1998)

Judith LeGrove, ‘Close encounters of the three-dimensional kind: an experiential biography of Michael Lyons’ Green Bronze IV (1980), unpublished (winner of the 2010 Henry Moore Institute MA essay prize)

Ann Elliott, ‘Scale Appropriate’, catalogue essay for exhibition at Canary Wharf (2014)

Judith LeGrove, The Sculpture of Michael Lyons (Sansom & Company, 2013)

David Sweet, ‘Natural causes: the sculpture of Michael Lyons’, Sculpture Journal, 22.2 (2013)

Judith LeGrove, ‘Michael Lyons: from Bilston to Beijing’, SculpturesPacific, 11 (2015)

Michael Lyons and Judith LeGrove, ‘Half-Light’ (catalogue for exhibition at New School House Gallery, York, 2015)

James Hamilton, ‘The Sculpture of Michael Lyons by Judith LeGrove’ [book review], Sculpture Journal Vol. 24.1 (2015)

‘Freeze Frame’ catalogue edited by Dr .Judith LeGrove. Includes three essays: ‘Freeze Frame’ by Dr.Judith LeGrove; ‘Drawn to Sculpture: Michael Lyons’ ‘Lenten Cover’ (1979)’ by Michael Howard; and ‘Michael Lyons: Natural and Industrial ca 1963 -70’ by Dr.Julia Kelley (2016)

‘Future Now’ -100 Contemporary Artists from the Aesthetical Art Prize, published in association with Aesthetica Magazine (2016)

William Varley ‘Machines, Myths and Murder’ review of ‘Machines and Myths’ in ‘The Jackdaw'(2018)


Ann Sproat, ‘Artists’ Lives’ [recorded interview for the British Library] (2011), BL C466/311

Gail Deayton, ‘Artist of the Week – Michael Lyons. Sculptor’ (2013)


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