Drawings, sketchbooks, notebook and copy photographs of George Fullard

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection includes over eighty works on paper. The majority of these are line drawings in pencil, watercolour or ink of figures, and sketches for his 'war-machines'. There are five sketchbooks, 1959-1964, which have notes about the history of art, drawings for his assemblage work, life drawings and figurative sketches; a notebook entitled 'Copie-bok', which Fullard used to intermittently record his ideas about sculpture, history, art, philosophy and religion with eight drawings in pencil relating to his war assemblages, 1966-1971; and eighty-seven photographs of Fullard's work that were copied from original photographs in his Estate in 1999.

Four drawings by George Fullard, acquired at the same time as the archive, were transferred from the Leeds' Sculpture Collection to the HMI Archive in 2011, as follows:

  • - 'Three boys playing at war'
  • - 'Mother and child'
  • - 'Three upright figures'
  • - 'War infant with cannon'

Administrative / Biographical History

George Fullard was born on 15th September 1923 in Sheffield. At the age of fourteen the headmaster of his school recognised Fullard’s talent for drawing and encouraged his parents to send him to Art College. He was awarded a scholarship to the Sheffield College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied from 1937 to 1942. His early drawings revealed a preoccupation with everyday life in the city. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Fullard was eager to enlist and in 1942 he joined the front-line 17th/21st Lancers. During the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944, Fullard suffered severe injuries to his left shoulder and head. However after a long period of recovery he recovered the use of his arm and hand, and was able to continue his studies at the Royal College of Art from 1945 to 1947. Fullard’s early work was greatly influenced by the bronzes of Rodin and upon his graduation Fullard was awarded a three-month travel scholarship which he spent in Paris with his wife, Irena O'Connor Corcoran. This scholarship also allowed Fullard to visit the Rodin Museum in Paris.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Fullard’s drawings, modelled figures and heads reflected his continuing interest in ordinary humanity and he was closely connected with the art movement to establish a new realist style. They attracted the attention of John Berger, the Marxist art critic of the New Statesman, who, by 1958, regarded him as Britain's best young contemporary sculptor. In 1959 Fullard began to work with the oeuvre of ‘assemblage’, constructing figures out of fragments of broken furniture and pieces of scrap metal.

Although he had shown in major exhibitions of contemporary sculpture in the 1960s, had been head of sculpture at the Chelsea School of Art from 1963, and was made an ARA in 1973, his sculpture was not fully appreciated in his lifetime. At his death in 1973, Fullard left behind a studio full of sculpture and drawings, most of which had never been publicly exhibited. In 1974 a retrospective of his work was held at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

Conditions Governing Access

Available to all registered researchers. The Archive is open by appointment only.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the HMI archive searchroom

Archivist's Note

Archives Hub description was created by Katie Gilliland

Biographical information from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and J. Spalding, 'George Fullard: Drawings' (1982) [exh. cat., Arts Council, London]

Related Material

The work "Captive", 1964, is in Leeds' Sculpture Collection.