A tribute to Bob Brighton - 1936-2017

Bob Brighton, friend of the University of Sheffield and world renowned artist, sadly passed away on Sunday 8 January 2017.

Bob devoted his life to painting colour. His work was described by one critic as "brilliant abstractions that utilise colour in the most lyrical way".

Bob’s aim was to reach beyond the conventional art gallery to communicate his passion for colour. He wanted his art in spaces that were freely accessible to the public. Anne Horn, Director of Library Services & University Librarian, reflected on Bob:

“My Library colleagues and I were sad to hear of the death of Bob Brighton who devoted his life to being an artist and painter. It is a privilege for the University Library to have been entrusted with this important collection of paintings, which animate the internal spaces of the Information Commons today and beyond. Bob was renowned as a truly colourful character and his work continues to be enjoyed by visitors and users of the building every day”.

Bob Brighton

Bob and the University of Sheffield

In 2006, Bob approached the University to see if it might be interested in displaying some of his paintings. At that point, the Information Commons (IC) was less than a year away from opening and our attention was on the internal design and fit out of the building. The interior of the IC is about light, space and colour. It was clear from the outset that Bob’s paintings would work well.

Bob selected 29 paintings for the IC, which were installed in 2007. The response of visitors and regular users of the building has been enthusiastic, many of them assuming that the paintings had been commissioned specially for the spaces they now inhabit. Bob’s vocabulary of colour means that his paintings and the building, talk to each other.

In October 2013 the University received another significant gift from the artist of over 170 paintings together with associated archival material and sketchbooks. This gift included three paintings (‘My End: My Beginning’; ‘My Journey’; ‘My Horizon’) which were Bob’s final large paintings. These were included in the major exhibition of the University’s collection of his paintings in 2014.

Art Beyond The Art Gallery

Bob’s art has made an impact in several countries outside the UK, most notably in Australia.

Bob wanted to reach beyond the conventional art galleries and donates his paintings freely to universities, libraries, hospitals and schools in many parts of the world, where they can be appreciated by large numbers of people who may never visit an art gallery.

“How I see it is, I’m not giving anything away, I’m just finding a home for my work. I’m sharing it with other people. I’ve never been interested in money”.

In Bob’s view, a spiritual individual has to reach a point of maturity before they can create meaningful art.

“My work didn’t really begin as work that I could take some pride in ’til I was 50. I had then developed enough as a human being to have moved into abstract ways of thinking – taking on more difficult questions – and by that time I was ready…and once I was ready, nobody was going to stop me”.

After leaving Brighton College of Art and Craft in 1958 and a short spell as an art teacher in Denmark, Bob took any job that would help to support his painting.

He became a full-time artist in 1983 and held his first public show at the Worthing Museum in 1987. In homage to his birthplace, Bob Meaton exhibited as Bob Brighton – which is the public name he has used ever since.

As health issues began to make it increasingly difficult for Bob to paint, he created his three final works which summed up his life-journey both as a human being and as an artist, announcing his retirement in 2012, aged 78.

Please click here to read other Tributes to alumni and friends of the University

Three of Bob's pieces displayed in the IC

The colour driven work of Bob Brighton