British (b. 1938)
William Tillyer was born in Middlesbrough, northern England, and studied painting at the Middlesbrough College of Art (1956–9), before moving south to London in the 1960s to study at the Slade School of Art, with painting as his main subject and printmaking as his subsidiary. Following his time at the Slade, Tillyer took up a French Government Scholarship to study gravure under Stanley William Hayter, at Atelier 17 in Paris.
In 1963 he returned to England. In 1959 two of Tillyer’s paintings were accepted for the Young Contemporaries, the tenth in a series of annual exhibitions showcasing the best work done by students in England’s art schools.
Tillyer’s first major exhibition was held at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol in 1970 and consisted of 33 etchings, three of which were immediately purchased for the British Council Collection. Those prints were created by a variety of techniques, including etching and five-tone screenprinting. In addition to printing and painting in watercolors, oils and acrylics, Tillyer has used a variety of other materials and techniques, such as three-dimensional panels and canvases stretched together with string. His work is distinguished by its changing nature, and its concern with the very nature of painting itself.
Tillyer’s work has been shown frequently in London and New York since 1970. He is well represented in the Tate collection, while his work is also held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Brooklyn Art Museum, the Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
– Richard Wolfe