Cyril Power, born in Chelsea, in 1872, is primarily known for his co-founding of the Grosvenor School, his association (both professional and personal) with his fellow artist, Sybil Andrews, and for his advocacy and use of linocuts. These remained his most successful medium, but he was also a proficient painter, and occasionally experimented with etching.

 

Having trained as an architect, Power was awarded the Sloane Medallion in 1900 by the Royal Institute of British Architects, where he was elected an associate member. He pursued this career for much of his early life, until 1921, when he met and left his wife and children for Sybil Andrews. In the run-up to this period, he had begun to produce watercolours and drypoint etchings, mainly of landscapes and urban scenes. It has been speculated that the horrors he saw and experienced during air raids as part of the Royal Flying Corps in WWI contributed significantly to his sharp change of careers. 1921 saw Power and Andrews share a joint exhibition in her home town of Bury St. Edmunds.

 

In 1922, Power moved, together with Andrews to London, where he initially studied at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, before leaving to work as a lecturer in architecture at Grosvenor School of Modern Art. It was here that they were taught by Claude Flight, and came to embrace the colourful use of linocuts. He used this method to create dynamic, futuristic prints of the London underground and sporting events, amongst other modern subjects.

 

Power and Andrews lived and collaborated in London until they gave up their shared studio in 1938 and went their separate ways. Before this, they had both flourished. They exhibited together at Claude Flight’s The First Exhibition of British Lino-Cuts at the Redfern Gallery (which spawned a series of annual exhibitions) and they jointly designed posters for the London Passengers Transport Board from 1929 to 1937, promoting the use of the system under the pseudonym "Andrew-Power". In 1930, Power was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists.

 

After his split with Andrews, Power re-joined his family, who had moved to New Malden, in Surrey. Following the outbreak of war in 1938, Power worked as a surveyor for the Heavy Rescue Squad at Wandsworth Town Hall. He combined this with work lecturing on painting and linocutting in New Malden and Kingston.  In the later years of his life, he moved away from scenes of city life and produced oil paintings of Cornish landscapes and of flowers. He died in London in May 1951.

 

Power’s work is held in collections worldwide, including the British Museum, National Gallery of Australia, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was widely exhibited in his lifetime, particularly as part of the Grosvenor School, and his importance is still recognized today. 

Read moreRead less