John Tunnard initially trained in design at the Royal College of Art and worked for four years as a textile designer in Manchester before leaving the industry to concentrate on painting. He supported himself by teaching part-time at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. His first mixed exhibition was at the Royal Academy in 1931 and the first one-man show was held at the Redfern Gallery in 1933.
Tunnard exhibited regularly in London, primarily with the London Group, until the 1950s. A number of works exhibited during this period related to the landscape of Cornwall where the artist and his wife had settled. He never formally joined the Surrealist Movement but participated in their exhibitions in the 1930s, including Surrealism 1939 at Gordon Fraser Gallery. This exhibition featured Ernst, Klee, Magritte and Miro and led to Peggy Guggenheim giving him a show at her gallery, Guggenheim Jeune in 1939.
Numerous exhibitions followed, notably at Redfern, Zwemmer and Alex Reid and Le Fevre in London. His work was included in British Council exhibitions in Australia and South America.
signed and dated 1959
Tunnard ref: TRG19
Purchased from McRoberts & Tunnard, 1959
Private Collection, London 1959 - 2016
London, McRoberts & Tunnard, John Tunnard,
26 November - 23 December 1959, cat no 48
Alan Peat and Brian Whitton, John Tunnard: His Life and Work, page 190, cat no 703
This small evocative work by Tunnard is a classic example of his fascination with space exploration and the colonisation of other planets. With blue-black skies and buildings within bubbles, Tunnard was as Peat and Whitton suggest, "no longer just ‘journeying’ to other worlds, he had in fact, landed"¹.
¹John Tunnard, His Life and Work, Alan Peat and Brian A Whitton, page 113