The Artist, John Lyons
Minister, Scientist, Artist:
John Lyons was born in Liverpool, 1963 as the youngest of a large family. His parents were teachers and encouraged John to be creative, whilst open to learning from observation, listening and questioning. Not considering art a "real occupation" he was dissuaded from following his natural artistic talent at school and directed towards the sciences. He studied Biological Sciences in Surrey, then took time out to train for life as a Catholic Priest, studying Theology and Philosophy at Durham. Though not ordained, this period produced a self-confident man with advanced communications skills, including training as a radio-journalist / producer/ presenter to BBC standards. Leaving theology, he turned towards medical science, becoming a specialist in Medical Microbiology. John underwent training in Liverpool and study at Manchester, gaining his Post-Graduate Fellowship in 1990. He then moved to Oxford, as a Senior Scientist at the John Radcliffe Hospital (working for Public Health & the NHS). He remained a creative artist throughout this time and was invited by his Professional Institute to design the branding-logo for their National Conference.
Days, Nights and Nude Women:
Though Oxford days were devoted to medical science, diagnosis, research, learning and teaching, John Lyons' free-time became devoted to "people in distress" and "creative art". He was a volunteer inspector of Police detention suites, a volunteer counsellor with Oxford's Victim Support (specialising in victims of acute trauma, including rape) and a volunteer resident-elected Councillor. He represented the needs of his local population at Local Parish Council and Oxford Town Hall meetings, whilst also representing them in a challenge against the County Council, taken up with the Secretary of State (John won this case.)
Art Tutor in Oxford:
From 1992 John Lyons attended a regular Life Drawing Class in Jericho, Oxford. His first ever life-drawing completed here, was accepted for exhibition in the City's "Oxford ArtWeeks", shown at a City centre location. At this time John sketched mainly Portraits, drawing with charcoal on bright coloured sugar paper, creating out of the negative darkness into the light of form and highlights. Shortly after this, the class-tutor was head-hunted to a position with an American University. Not having a tutor, the class was threatened with closure. John Lyons took over as the "life drawing tutor" and continued to run the class, sourcing new ladies to model, until alternative arrangements could be made. Shortly after he also started whole-day life-drawing sessions at the Community Centre in Littlemore, Oxford. These sessions allowed artists the time to experiment with techniques. John can recall a fellow artist mixing domestic wall-plaster to then paint a "fresco" of the nude during the session. This technique was a great inspiration to John's later work, where he painted female nudes within quick-setting-cement (see below)
Art Tutor on Prime-Time Television:
2000, John Lyons relocated to Stockport, Cheshire and established a large photographic and art studio on the upper floor of Vernon Mill. In doing so, he became a driving force behind the VMA studio-group (Vernon Mill Artists). John Lyons cajoled a committed group of ladies (mixed ages, sizes) and a small number of men to pose nude for his weekly Life-Drawing group, none of whom had ever posed before. Thus, his group became very popular with local artists and art-teachers, who were happy to send Art "A-Level" students to John for tutoring. Around 2005, John Lyons was approached by the TV Producer for "How Not To Decorate" (a Lifestyle programme showing multiple series on Channel5) to teach their Celebrity presenters, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, how to draw and paint from a reclining nude in his studio, footage to be included in their next programme. John was vey happy to assist and thus filming started. A few small, pictures remain from this time, shown below. All proceeds from this event were paid to Christie's Cancer Care in Manchester (for whom John provided a regular % of his artistic income). The popular programme has been aired several times in the UK (Episode #3.2, Nov 2005) and according to Wikipedia is still showing on Australian TV. It has also aired in South Africa, New Zealand, Estonia, Canada, Poland, Spain and Albania.