A son to Peter LANYON and a brother to Andrew LANYON, Matthew was a somewhat latecomer to the world of art, first attending Leicester University and then working as a joiner, builder and antiques dealer before returning to Cornwall in 1987. A self-taught artist, he began to exhibit his work in the 1990s.
He was deeply affected by the death of his Father in 1964, when he was 13. Matthew's abstract landscape paintings took up the topographical, cultural and personal references which resonated with his roots in west Penwith. His first major solo show took place at the Rainyday Gallery in Penzance in 1997. It included a painting seven metres long entitled 'Journey to the Stars'. He became the gallery's best-selling artist until it closed in 2010. He then exhibited every year in St Ives, alternately with the New Craftsman Gallery (which still represents him) and the Porthminster Gallery, as well as in galleries around the UK and at Tate St Ives.
His experiments with architectural glass and tapestry pushed the scale of his work to the truly monumental. A prolific artist, his work was shown widely throughout the UK. He was one of Cornwall's most successful and beloved artists.
At the height of his powers, Matthew Lanyon died of cancer in 2016. In an obituary in 'The Guardian', he is described as 'a Cornish painter whose passion for the landscape and cultural legacy of his beloved county ran as vibrantly as ore through his work. He made an immeasurable contribution to the art of the region.'
After his death, an exhibition in Skibbereen showcased many of his larger works for the first time. In 2021 a film entitled 'No Holds Barred - the Life and Art of Matthew Lanyon' was released. This documentary features his previously unseen short films and poetry. It has been very successful, winning Best Documentary at New Renaissance Film Festival, and being selected for two other international film festivals and the Celtic Media Festival. The film, made by Barbara Santi and his widow Judith Lanyon, is currently screening around the UK (2022).
Painting, 3D works, architectural stained glass, tapestry
works and access
New Craftsman Gallery, St Ives
1997 to 2010: Rainyday Gallery
2010: New Craftsman, St Ives Andrew and Matthew Lanyon's Works
2013: Porthminster Gallery, St Ives - solo exhibition
2016: 'In the Tracks of the Yellow Dog', New Craftsman Gallery, St Ives (Sept)
2018: 'Faster than Words, Older than Thought', New Craftsman Gallery, St Ives (8 Sept-6 Oct)
Ruhrmund 'What's On' in Cornishman 21 Oct 2010
Tate St Ives, Art Now Cornwall Artist Guide 2007
Cornwall Today (Jan 2017) - obituary by Alex Wade
The Guardian (9 Dec 2016) - obituary by Mercedes Smith
Cornwall Today (Sept 2018) 'A Cornish Legacy' by Mercedes Smith
'No Holds Barred - the Life and Art of Matthew Lanyon' - a 2021 documentary film by Barbara Santi and Judith Lanyon