Trevor Shearer’s legacy

Trevor Shearer died at the beginning of 2013 at the age of 54. While pursuing his own artistic career, he enjoyed fifteen years teaching Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art in London. He had a reputation as a rigorously critical yet supportive tutor who was very knowledgeable, with a keen sense of curiosity.

Ambit is fortunate to present a small selection from Trevor Shearer’s output, illustrating his thoughtful and exciting work.

Despite generating interest in his work among his peers and participating in prominent group shows, such as Colour in Context at the Serpentine Gallery in 1989, Shearer increasingly struggled with the idea of exhibiting. His perfectionism is evident in the extensive drawings, plans, instructions, maquettes and notes he made prior to the final execution of his work. He worked in a wide range of media (film, sound, animation, painting, sculpture) and spoke of ‘in between’ states that could involve one medium generating a response in another.

The drawing below is a score for two pianos, part of a project left unfinished at the time of Shearer’s death. In September 2012 he made Forest Film, a ten-minute video comprising static camera shots of varying lengths. It was filmed in Epping Forest on a clear, windless day and Shearer became fascinate by the only visible movements in the film shots: the insects. He used their movements to start plotting a musical score.

In ‘Notes on Work’ in January 1998 Shearer explains:

“Often impulsively conceived, and perhaps as a result, my work involves opposing or divergent references: the intimate and the distant, the natural and the synthetic, interior and exterior and, by association, the idea that nothing is stable or fixed in terms of how we perceive or interpret….”

Thanks not only to the love and dedication of his friends and colleagues but also to the meticulous planning and detailed instructions that the artist produced for the display of his work, a larger audience can finally appreciate the depth and quality of his practice.

Since his death Shearer’s work has been exhibited at the Russian Club Studios, London (May 2013) and Large Glass, London (October 2013 – January 2014). Coinciding with the latter, a small publication with an essay by Ed Krčma, Universal Fragments: On the Work of Trevor Shearer was published in December 2013 (

Ambit would like to give special thanks to Alison Turnbull who was a close friend of Shearer’s. Alison has graciously contributed her time and advice to this feature. We would also like to thank Charlotte Schepke founder and director Large Glass, London.

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