Plaque unveiled in honour of post-war sculptor

Locals gatherering to see the plaque unveiled
Local people gathered to see the plaque unveiled [York Civic Trust]

A plaque to celebrate a sculptor who taught at schools in wartime York has been unveiled in Upper Poppleton.

Austin Wright taught at Bootham School, The Mount School and York Art School between 1937 and 1954 before becoming a full-time artist.

He lived in Upper Poppleton when he took part in an exhibition for the British Arts Council which toured Scandinavia and South America.

York Civic Trust has installed the plaque in his honour and said he was a "worthy recipient" of the accolade.

The plaque unveiled for Austin Wright
The plaque unveiled for Austin Wright [York Civic Trust]

Mr Wright was one of the first recognised artists of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park when it opened in 1977 - the same year he received an honorary degree from the University of York.

He has three sculptures on the university grounds which York Civic Trust said "is rare as some of Austin’s works were stolen and sold for scrap".

The trust described Mr Wright - who was born in 1911 and died in 1997 - as "a significant post-war sculptor whose personal and professional lives were deeply intertwined with the city of York".

"It's great to be able to include the blue plaque unveiling as part of the Poppleton festivities on the village green, and especially to be able to involve so many kids and families with local heritage," said the trust's Duncan Marks.

"There's a nice connection, too, in that Austin Wright moved to Green View [his home] in 1944 and, as annual May Bank Holiday celebrations started only a couple of years later, he would very much have known of it.

"So, we hope he’d very much approve of the timing for the plaque unveiling."

Mr Marks added: "It's wonderful to be able to recognise an artist such as Austin Wright, who chose to live in and be inspired by York, and Poppleton in particular.

"He could have gone to a much bigger cultural centre, such as London, and made a bigger name for himself, but was utterly charmed by his adopted city, York.

"The blue plaque is a small way of saying thank you to him."

Born in Chester before spending his childhood in Cardiff, Mr Wright was a self-taught artist who took evening classes at Cardiff Art School.

He attended New College, Oxford, where he read modern languages before doing his teacher training.

His started his first job as a teacher in 1934 at The Downs, in Malvern, Worcestershire, three years before moving to York.

Speaking about his father, Crispin Wright told Art360 that after spending hours sculpting, "he'd come in the house and he would be a family man".

He added: "I'm very proud of him because he's created this immense body of work."

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