Bruce Sherratt was born in the north of England on the bleak border of North Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Bruce’s teachers noticed his ability to translate his inner visions into visual images on paper at an early age. At 15 he found himself the star student at one of the local art schools, engaged in a three-year foundation course, before heading off to a London art college where he earned a degree in painting and drawing.
“I grew up on a diet of Western movies. As a kid my imagination was ablaze with desert landscapes, dust blown cacti, horse skulls bleached white in the scorching sun, and monolithic rock formations looming up like surreal cathedrals”.
He was obsessed by the murals, monuments, carvings, hieroglyphs of Aztec, Mixtec, Toltec and other pre-Columbian civilizations. Giants of Mexican mural painting such as Orosco, Rivera, Tamayo and Siqueiros drew him like a magnet.
Oblivious to what Sherratt describes as “Post-Modernist intellectual narcissism”, Sherratt’s focus was on the surrealism of Max Ernst, Archille Gorky, Yves Tanguy, Andre Masson, Leonora Carrington, the less likely Scottish painters, Alan Davie and Robert Colquhoun, Paul Wunderlich and, Sherratt says, “that unavoidable master the world has yet to catch up with: Roberto Matta”.
In the mid 1960s, like tens of thousands of other ‘seekers’ Sherratt took off on a journey to find himself. He set up his first studio in a small dusty village called Jocotapec on Lake Chapala, about 40 kilometers from Guadalajara-
In Mexico City he met the English surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, former lover-companion of Max Ernst in 1968 who encouraged Sherratt’s one-man exhibitions at the Anglo Mexican Institute in Mexico city and later the Municipal Art Gallery of Guadalajara.
After three years in Mexico Sherratt spent a year in San Francisco where his skills and unique style of painting began fully to emerge and mature. He exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (SF) and the Vorpal Gallery, then the leading outlet for surrealism on the US west coast.
After a brief interlude back in the UK he visited the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Trinidad and went on to Caracas. Kicking off from Ciudad Bolivar on the Orinoco river the young artist-adventurer hitchhiked throughout the vast Amazon region of Venezuela and Brazil, hanging his hammock for several months in Manaus and Belem at the mouth of the Amazon delta. He went on to explore the north east of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Bolivia, where the austere Andean Altiplano: ‘rooftop of the world’ made a deep and indelible impression on the young painter. By the late 70s Sherratt had begun to question not only the validity of his own art but also of it’s origins and the nature of his apparent “inner need” to paint. He discovered Kandinsky’s book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1912. Kandinsky’s theory of “inner necessity” continues to underpin the entire gamut of Bruce Sherratt’s creativity.