John Tunnard


John Tunnard was born in Bedfordshire and initially trained in design at the Royal College of Art. Working initially as a textile designer, in the late 1920s Tunnard concentrated increasingly on painting. His first group show was in 1931, at the Royal Academy of Arts, with a one-man show following in 1933 at the Redfern Gallery, London. Most works at this time depicted the landscape of Cornwall, where the artist and his wife had settled. Tunnard became a member of the London Group in 1934 and exhibited annually with the London Group until 1950.


Herbert Read determined Tunnard to be a ‘dream-landscape’painter. Whilst Tunnard never formally joined the Surrealist movement, he did participate in several of the group’s exhibitions in the 1930s, including Surrealism at Gordon Fraser Gallery, Cambridge, 1939, which featured works by Max Ernst, Paul Klee, René Magritte and Joan Miró. In the same year, Tunnard held a solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery in London, Guggenheim Jeune.


In 1946, Tunnard was featured in Contemporary British Art, a travelling exhibition to the United States. The British Council included his work in three survey exhibitions in Australia and South America between 1940 and 1949. In 1949, his paintings were also shown at the Salon des Réalitiés Nouvelles, Paris. He designed a mural for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1967.


In 1977, the Arts Council held a major touring retrospective, John Tunnard 1900-1971, which began at the Royal Academy and visited Kettle's Yard, Kettering Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and Laing Art Gallery, finishing at Newlyn Art Gallery in Penzance.