Sketchbooks and Papers of Austin Wright

Scope and Content

The main component of the archive consists of over thirty sketchbooks and notebooks, 1950-1992. These are in pencil, watercolour, chalk and ink and many of the sketches can be related to specific sculptures. There are also photocopies of drawings and sketchbooks from the 1950s-1980s, some of which are annotated by Wright identifying the subjects. There is a collection of source images including over 200 postcards of art works, over thirty photographs of rock formations and dry-stone walls and fifty-six large photographs of microbiology; and a range of press cuttings and articles, some of which are about Wright but most are about various other artists and there are two clippings about the landing on the moon of 1969. A later accrual (ref.2014.24) comprises catalogues, exhibition lists, a poster, a press release, and four private view cards. Some of the catalogues have been annotated by the artist. There are also seven papers relating to the sale of works.

Administrative / Biographical History

Austin Wright was born in 1911. He grew up in Cardiff and studied modern languages in Oxford. He trained to be a teacher and taught French, German and Maths. He spent most of his adult life in Yorkshire. In 1945 he married Susan Midgley and they settled in Upper Poppleton, near York. Although he started as teacher he was later able to become a full-time sculptor. The Acquisition Prize at the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1957 was a great stimulus. He became a Gregory Fellow at the University of Leeds from 1961 to 1964 and received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York in 1977. Commissions include: Poundswick Grammar School, Manchester; Crocodile, concrete play-sculpture for Rolleston Infant School, Glen Parva, Leicestershire 1961; tapestries for cathedrals at Manchester, Wakefield and Derby. Exhibitions include: West Riding Artists, City Art Gallery, Wakefield, 1941-8; Modern Art in Yorkshire, Wakefield Art Gallery 1953; Roland Browse and Delbanco, London 1956 (solo); Aldeburgh Festival (Arts Council tour) 1956; LCC 1957; BC 1956; BCSP 1957; SPB 1957; Sculpture in the Home, Arts Council, 1958; Middelheim Park, Antwerp 5th Biennale 1959.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

The Henry Moore Institute received the first donation of Austin Wright's papers from Mrs Susan Wright on 28th of September 1995.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available in the HMI archive searchroom

Archivist's Note

Archive Hub description created by Janette Martin.

Biographical information extracted from 'Austin Wright', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [, accessed 19 Nov 2015]


A further donation was made by Mrs Susan Wright in 2014 comprising mainly catalogues private-view cards, postcards and books. The items with Austin's writing on it and small items are kept in the archive. Catalogues without Austin’s writing and books are on open access in the HMI Library.

Related Material

There are 6 works by Austin Wright in the Leeds City Art Gallery collection.