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Sydney Harpley RA FRBS (1927-1992)

Sydney Harpley, RA FRBS (1927-1992)

The work of Sydney Harpley always surprised and delighted: dancers, acrobats, girls on swings were posed and executed with equal audacity and elegance. Establishing the single female as his favourite subject while still a student, he rose to become the most popular sculptor, not only among Royal Academicians but among all who exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions.

Sydney Harpley was born in Fulham, London, on 9 April 1927. The son of an electrician and cabinet maker, he grew up in Dagenham, and spent the war years as an evacuee in Berkshire and Bedfordshire. Though talented in both art and music, he left school at the age of 14 to take up an apprenticeship as an electrician. He went on to work at an American air base, and would later cite aircraft as a formative influence on his artistic development, describing planes as ‘sculptures in space’.

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