Leeds artist rocking again with new show

David Oxtoby.

David Oxtoby.

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HE WAS among a group of Yorkshire men who shook the art world in the 1960s when they became known as the Bradford Mafia.

Now Horsforth’s own David Oxtoby, 78, has earned a rare privilege – an exhibition of his work at the British Museum.

The King 1976 by David Oxtoby.

The King 1976 by David Oxtoby.

Mr Oxtoby, together with David Hockney, Norman Stevens, John Loker and Michael Vaughan, trained in Bradford in the 1950s and 1960s before heading for London.

Now, some of his paintings and etchings of Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry and David Bowie are on show together with images of his hero, Elvis Presley.

The exhibition is on display in the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings until early April.

A spokesman for the British Museum said that in the 1960s and 1970s, when popular music was well and truly coming into its own, a series of paintings took the music and art world by storm.

“Entitled simply Oxtoby’s Rockers they were precisely that – a series of pictures by artist David Oxtoby depicting some of the major music stars of the day – Hendrix, Bowie, Elvis, Chuck Berry, they were all there.

“That his pictures then were so successful paved the way for many of the ‘music artists’ that followed. His bold use of colour and line created more than just form, it gave the lie to the essence of the subject as well.”

Mr Oxtoby, who was born in Horsforth, studied at Bradford College of Art from 1950-57 alongside Hockney. He later studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1960 to 1964. His paintings attracted much attention at the time and he had several successful one-man shows in London.


David Oxtoby was born in Horsforth in 1938.

He worked as a labourer, freelance commercial artist and a seasonal artist at Blackpool illuminations, a theatre scenery painter and as a mural creator before moving to London.

From 1964-65, he was visiting Professor of Painting at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Little survives of his work from the 1960s because of the loss of four years work in a warehouse fire.