Gillian Ayres was born in London on February 3, 1930. She developed an interest in art while attending St. Paul's School for Girls in London. St. Paul's was looked upon as a progressive school for the time for giving young girls a broader span of education; including instruction in the arts. In 1946 she had finished her preliminary school and wanted to pursue a career in art. Ayres applied to Slade School of Fine Arts in London but was denied because she was only sixteen. She was then deferred to the Camberwell School of Art, also located in London, where she studied from 1946-1950.
Once graduating from Camberwell she worked for the AIA Gallery in Soho up until the start of her teaching career in 1959. Ayres first teaching job came in 1959 when she was asked to teach a small class at the Beth Academy of Art in Corsham for only six weeks. Ayres ended up staying at the college until 1965. After, 1965 she became the head of painting at the Winchester School of Art until 1978.
In 1981 she left teaching for good to be a full-time painter. Moving to the north-west corner of Wales, isolating herself to fully immerse herself in her work. Her work is predominantly non-representational and deals with color as well as pattern. In earlier work she used thin vinyl paints but later transitioned into oils where she would create thick colorful impasto surfaces. Ayres named her paintings after they were completed in order to contribute to the overall mood of the painting. She remained a full-time painter until her death in 2003.
By Christian Franzen