Bernard Meadows was born in Norwich in 1915, and studied art at the Norwich School of Art from 1934-36. He went on to study at the Royal College of Art from 1938-1940 and 1946-48, where he eventually became Professor of Sculpture later in his career.
Meadows worked as a studio assistant to Henry Moore from 1936-1939, a relationship which he cherished, but also sought to distance himself from, through the subject matter of his work. He returned to Moore’s side in the 1980’s. In 1941-1946, Meadows served in the RAF and was stationed in the Coco Islands in the Indian Ocean where the greatest natural threat, were the gigantic crabs that roamed the island. Meadows began to produce sculpture using these crabs, and later, birds, as a way of escaping the influence of Moore.
These subjects provided Meadows with a way of depicting extreme violence without resorting to the human figure. Their forms often oscillated between crab or bird, and the barrels of guns, the fuselage of plane wrecks with protruding limbs resembling those of humans, rather than birds or crabs. Meadows work was typical of 1950s British sculpture, which is characterised by forms of aggressive or wounded animals used to reflect the mood of post-war anxiety which Herbert Read classified as a “geometry of fear.”
Meadows taught at the Royal College of Art for over twenty years, tutoring pupils such as Elisabeth Frink but sadly passed away in 2005.