Alexander Mackenzie (1923 – 2002)

Alexander Mackenzie was born in Liverpool in 1923. He attributed his appreciation of the history of art and the natural world to his boarding school being evacuated to Newburgh Priory in North Yorkshire during the Second World War. As soon as he was old enough he enlisted with the Inns of Court regiment (1941 – 46), and then attended Liverpool College of Art (1947 – 1950).

Accepting a teaching post at a school in Cornwall in 1951, he moved to St Ives, and rapidly became a member of the distinctive post-war generation of modernist artists. In the 1950s he and his friend and contemporary Peter Lanyon explored landscape abstraction, although Alexander Mackenzie applied the rigour and intellect of fellow artist Ben Nicholson to his work. His sculptural and sensuous style in architectural format enhanced the landscapes and skylines he loved so much. He once said that he considered his work to be “paintings first, with a landscape element.”

From 1959 – 1963 Alexander Mackenzie had a series of one man exhibitions at the Waddington Gallery in London and in 1960 – 1962 at the prestigious Durlachers Gallery in New York. He continued to have solo exhibitions in London and Cornwall until his death, and exhibited widely in mixed exhibitions at galleries such as the Redfern Gallery, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Waddington Gallery, Austin/Desmond Gallery (all London), and in Cornwall at the Tate Gallery St Ives, and Plymouth City Art Gallery. Examples of his work were included in the major exhibition St. Ives 1939 – 64 at the Tate Gallery in 1985. Examples of his work are held by the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Tate Gallery, numerous City galleries throughout Great Britain, and private collections in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA.

Between 1964 and 1984 Alexander Mackenzie taught at the Plymouth College of Art, becoming Head of Fine Art. On his retirement in 1984, he moved back to west Cornwall to continue painting. His later paintings were linear and uncompromising, the limited palette dominated by bone white, cool greens and browns, the textures scarred and distressed. It is to this period that Sacred Circle belongs.

Alexander Mackenzie died in 2002 in Cornwall.

Alexander Mackenzie, 'Sacred Circle'

Alexander Mackenzie, 'Sacred Circle'

Sacred Circle
Oil & Pencil on Board: 43.5 x 40.5 cm
Signed & dated March 92

Solo Exhibitions

  • 1959 – Waddington Galleries, London
  • 1960 – Durlachers Gallery, New York
  • 1961 – Waddington Galleries, London
  • 1962 – Durlachers Gallery, New York
  • 1963 – Waddington Galleries, London
  • 1965 – Plymouth City Art Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition Paintings by Alexander Mackenzie, Devon
    1965 – Maltzahn Gallery, London
  • 1968 – Maltzahn Gallery, London
  • 1970 – Maltzahn Gallery, London
  • 1977 – The Truro Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition Paintings and Drawings by Alexander Mackenzie, Cornwall
  • 1980 – Mewlyn Orion Gallery, Newlyn
  • 1982 – Festival Gallery, Bath
  • 1999 – Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London


  • Arts Council of Great Britain
  • Bishop Suter Gallery, Nelson, New Zealand
  • Brasenose College, University of Oxford
  • Blackburn City Art Gallery
  • Bradford City Art Gallery
  • Calouste Gulbenkin Foundation
  • Contemporary Art Society
  • Cornwall County Council
  • Cuxhaven Town Council, Germany
  • Leamington City Art Gallery
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • Nuffield Foundation
  • Oldham City Art Gallery
  • Plymouth City Art Gallery
  • Tate Gallery, London
  • West Riding County Council, Yorkshire
  • York City Art Gallery
  • Private Collections in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and U.S.A.