Born in 1962, Kevin Laycock is an abstract artist and amateur classical musician based in Leeds. Since completing his MA at the Royal College of Art, Laycock has exhibited widely throughout the UK. He has been a Lecturer in Art and Design History and Practice at the University of Leeds since 2001. Prior to this, he taught widely, including the Chelsea School of Art and Design, the Glasgow School of Art and Loughborough University.
Laycock is represented in the UK by Art First, London. His recent works, Invention 1 and Invention 2 - after Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, both oil on paper, were presented on the Art First stand at the London Art Fair (2018). Major exhibitions with Art First include Chaos and Roses (2016) and Collision (2009-13), both illustrated on this site and both with published catalogues to accompany them. In Chaos and Roses, Laycock acknowledges a deliberate move away from his earlier, more intuitive and painterly expressionist work, such as Cosmic Trifle. He cites specific reference points, namely, the work of two seminal, English abstract painters, Jeremy Moon and Jennifer Durrant RA, who has also been represented by Art First..
Moon was a leading figure in British art in the 1960s and 1970s. Laycock was attracted to Moon’s system based practice of the early 1970s, the abstract and the geometric, with its inclusion of grid-like forms composed of vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines.
Durrant says of her own work, ‘I do think that a painting may be rather like a mandala, in that its use may be meditative or contemplative’.
Chaos and Roses comprises seven works, all square and all oil on wood panel. The use of wood represents something of a departure for Laycock and is a result of his desire to create an extremely hard, clean, paint surface. The hard surface gives Laycock’s colour palette an extra vibrancy with colours that are brighter and more arresting. Again, unusually for Laycock, he made a preparatory sketch for each work on graph paper as a way of plotting with absolute precision the arrangement of the geometric shapes within the confines of the square. Laycock describes the preparatory work for Chaos and Roses as taking longer than the actual act of painting, which he completed with frenetic energy. He sands down the surface after each layer of paint, repeating this process many times.
Collision was a collaboration between Laycock and celebrated English composer Michael Berkeley CBE, and testifies to his concern with the inter-relationship between art and mucic. A digital installation, Collision was the practice element of Laycock’s doctoral research, The translation and interpretation of the structural elements of Michael Berkeley's musical compositions through painting and digital media. In Collision, the artists have created an illusory environment, which upon entry, is designed to invoke feelings of peace and tranquillity in the viewer. The sequencing of the work is important too, with each of the seven works taking something from the last, building into a single, holistic collection. Collision toured to a number of art and ecclesiastical venues in England and Ireland (2009-13).
A selection of his small works can be seen via #artistsupportpledge, an online supportive art market for artists, initiated by the artist Matthew Burrows in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Laycock is preparing for his UK exhibition at The Atkinson in 2021. In this new body of work which includes the two ‘Inventions’ pieces shown earlier by Art First, Laycock continues his exploration of the work of quilters such as the Gee’s Bend Quilters - a collective of African-American women based in Alabama, USA. Laycock comments, ‘I find the bold division of picture plane, the stark geometric designs and the vibrant colour palette completely arresting’. Laycock plans to undertake further research for the 2021 exhibition using the textile collections at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, UK. Textiles have been an additional element of longstanding interest in Laycock’s practice and the powerful abstractions of the Gee’s Bend quilts have a resonance which has engaged his special attention over a long period.
Clare Cooper, and Jane Speller MSc, AMA
 Gallery Oldham in conjunction with the University of Leeds (2010).
Lecturer in Art & Design History/Practice
School of Design
University of Leeds
Lectures and other Public Events