Self Portrait – Anthony Lawrence
Our Companion, Anthony Nathaniel (“Tony”) Lawrence, died peacefully at his home in Tiptoe, Hampshire, on Saturday 5 November 2022 surrounded by his family and his faithful dogs at the age of 71.
Tony was born in Cambridge in 1951 and grew up in and around Bedford (with a brief spell in Hampstead) where he attended several schools including Bedford Modern. He was the third of Quentin and Margaret Lawrence’s seven children. His father was a celebrated film and television director (having credits inter alia for The Saint and The Avengers as well as the Hammer Horror movie, The Trollenberg Terror) who had many friends in the industry including Michael Caine and Stanley Baker, who regularly visited the mansion in Blunham where Tony grew up. Tony used to enjoy sharing the story that when he was a toddler he shared a bathtub with Olivia Newton-John (who lived next door at the time before her family went to Australia) and was bathed on several occasions by no less than Honor Blackman.
Tony met the love of his life, Lesley, on 6 January 1968 at a disco in Kimbolton Church Hall. They were inseparable thereafter, travelling and living together in London, then Oxford, then finally in the New Forest in Hampshire.
When Tony was a young man in London, at the same time as he studied fine art at St Martin’s School of Art, around the years 1969-70, he was also deeply involved in the music industry, playing principally the bass guitar. His main band was called Starry Eyed and Laughing, with whom he toured around the UK, playing alongside many of the great bands of the time including Black Sabbath. Through his godmother, Cleo Lane, Tony was also introduced to many of the jazz musicians who travelled through London at that time and on one occasion played in a jam session at Ronnie Scott’s with the great trumpeter, Miles Davis.
Although music would stay with him all his life (owning as he did by the time of his passing no fewer than 12 guitars of various shapes and sizes and innumerable musical paraphernalia) Tony made a conscious decision early in his life to downplay his musical talents and focus on painting. This was around the time that he went up to Oxford to study at Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (1972-75) where he studied under Philip Morsberger (the Ruskin Master of Drawing 1971-84).
Phillip said of him, “[to] know Lawrence is to share in his laughter. He is a very droll fellow who keeps his friends on stitches. Typically, the target of his humour is himself. But if Lawrence is whimsical about life, he is stone serious about art. He works tirelessly in an effort to construct his pictures as solidly as finely-built cabinetry or well-cobbled footwear. His paintings abound with wit; his sense of the absurd is ever-present; but this in an artist who, through long years in the trade, has learned his stuff and his canvasses constitute a veritable compendium of painterly knowledge. Lawrence is a Post-Modernist who knows what he is about. He claims that in his pictures, the questions they engage are to him more important than any answers they might advance. Lawrence asks wonderful questions!”
Tony exhibited regularly in both group and individual shows all over the world since his Ruskin days, included one-man shows in Belgium, Holland, Washington DC, Saudi Arabia and London. His subjects included Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Seamus Heaney, Leo Tindermans, Dame Margaret Booth and Sir Ian McKellan and his work is held in private and corporate collections in North America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.
His work is probably best known to Brethren and Companions from the painting of Queen Victoria shown below commissioned by the Board of Grand Stewards in his son Bobbie’s year (2018-19).
He was a member of the Lodge of Emulation No. 21, having been initiated there in 2001. He was exalted into the Chapter of Felicity No. 58 in 2005. Two of his sons have followed him into Freemasonry and are both members of this Chapter.
Tony was a member of the Reform.
- Self-portrait, ‘Yet Another Art Critic’, 1996, oil on canvas, 18×18″.
- Portrait of Queen Victoria, 2019, watercolour, 8×10″.