top of page

John Lyons


Born in Trinidad in 1933, John Lyons was educated at Goldsmiths College School of Art and at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He is a prolific painter, prize-winning poet and in 2003 received the Windrush Arts Achiever Award. He has made a nationally acknowledged contribution to the visual arts and literature in the UK, as is testified by his involvement in Arts Education as an art lecturer and facilitator of visual and creative writing workshops in schools and colleges for more than 48 years; his adjudication in art and poetry competitions; being a co-founder and director of the Hourglass Studio Gallery in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, which was a creative hub for the community with its exhibitions, courses in visual arts and creative writing. In the 1980s he was a member of the purchasing panel for the Arts Council’s National Collection.


His work has been exhibited internationally and regionally, and most recently was included in Cultural Connections at The Babylon Gallery, Ely (2016). Artwork by John Lyons is privately collected and represented in national public collections including Huddersfield Art Gallery Collection, Rochdale Touchstone Art Gallery Collection, the Arts Council National Art Collection and the V & A Museum Word and Image Collection.

As a poet and painter Lyons feels an intuitive link between painting and poetry and, in practice, believes that the use of metaphor and the play of psychological associations in our human experiences can live with equal validity in the creation of visual art as in poetry.


His 2009 publication, Cook-up in a Trini Kitchen, contains more than 150 of his recipes, poems, drawings and watercolour illustrations, in addition to which he has seven published poetry books, including a collection for young readers, Dancing in The Rain, that was shortlisted by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) for the CliPPA Award 2016. His poems are frequently anthologised and a selection of them are presented on The Poetry Archive. He has also tutored creative writing at Arvon Foundation residential courses and part-time at the Bolton Institute of Higher Education.

John Lyons characteristically in his work draws on themes linked with Caribbean folklore and mythology. His first poetry collection, Lure of the Cascadura, was published in 1989 by Bogle-L’Ouverture, for whom he also designed book covers. Included in No Colour Bar were two works from 1988: JabJab and My Mother Earth is Black Like Me.   


John Lyons (b. 1939)

My Mother Earth is Black Like Me, 1988

Lyons is a visual artist and writer, originally from Trinidad and Tobago. He was a member of the Caribbean Artists Movement and provided book cover illustrations for Bogle-L’Ouverture.

Pastel on paper

On loan from the artist


John Lyons (b. 1939)

Jab Jab, 1988

Jab Jab is a devil-like traditional Trinidadian carnival character. He has a thick whip of plaited hemp which he swings and cracks threateningly. These whips can reduce the costumes of other Jab Jabs to threads. The name derives from the French patois for Diable (Devil).

Silkscreen print on paper

On loan from the artist

bottom of page