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Denis Mitchell (1912-1993)

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Relief No.2 by Denis Mitchell
Relief No.2. 1961
 
Biography
Sculptor, painter and teacher, born in Wealdstone, Middlesex. When a baby his family moved to Mumbles near Swansea, where he grew up. In 1930 he attended evening classes at Swansea School of Art, then moved to the St Ives area of Cornwall in 1938. A series of jobs followed over the years, such as running a market garden and tin mining, and while doing them Mitchell per sued his painting seriously. Started to sculpt in wood when he became assistant to Barbara Hepworth, 1949-59. He began Porthia Textile Prints, 1957-60, his first sculptures in bronze being done in 1959. Taught part-time at Redruth Art School and Penzance Grammar School, 1960-7, then was able to become full-time sculptor, living and working in Newlyn. Mitchell's sculpture is elegant and beautifully finished, abstract with figurative references. In 1968 the Foreign Office commissioned a froze sculpture for the University of the Andes, Bogota, Colombia, where Mitchell lectured briefly two years later. He participated in many group exhibitions and had a lot of solo shows, including Britain and overseas. Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, gave him a retrospective in 1979; Penwith Galleries, St Ives, 1992; and Flowers East, 1993, during which he died at Newlyn, Cornwall. For many years he had shared a studio complex there with the painter John Wells. In 1996, Penwith Galleries held a two-man show of Mitchell and his old friend, Tom Early. In 2005, Tate St Ives put on a small show of Mitchell's bronzes from the 1960s and 1970s and carvings in wood, slate and stone from the 1970s and 1980s. Arts Council, Tate Gallery and many public collections hold Mitchell's work.