Fenwick after receiving an honorary doctorate from Durham University.
Fenwick Lawson was born in 1932 in South Moor, Co. Durham and spent his childhood in the neighbouring village of Craghead. He first studied art at Sunderland College of Art before being awarded a place at The Royal College of Art in London. Lawson studied there from 1954-57, under John Skeeping and with the influences of Jacob Epstein who was working in the College on the Llandaff Christ.
After his studies Lawson was awarded the Sir James Knott Travelling Scholarship in 1958, which allowed him to travel in Europe experiencing the work of the masters, including Michelangelo and Donatello. He also came across Cycladic art for the first time and became interested in its simplicity of form. Lawson returned home to the North East in 1959.
In around 1961 he was appointed as a lecturer in sculpture at Newcastle-upon-Tyne College of Art, which then merged to form Newcastle Polytechnic becoming Head of the Sculpture Department at the Polytechnic until his retirement from teaching in 1984.
During the 1960's and 70's Lawson's work was within the mainstream of the time concerning itself with the 'objectness' of the object; it was art for arts sake. Whilst this genre had validity in its own right, it was not fulfilling his total self. He felt the need to redefine his work to include a moral content in order to engage with the human condition.
Most of these later works could be seen to be religious. However, if the viewer is prepared to look beyond the religious narrative, they will see that it is used as a metaphor within which the sculptor can express his consciousness of humanity and inhumanity. The metaphor is timeless and transcends the dominant culture. Its concern with the human condition has both historical and contemporary relevance.