'Encouraged by Ben Nicholson, the self-taught Tom Early became part of the St. Ives art colony in the late 1940s and 1950s.
His first exhibitions, with Denis Mitchell, were held at the Castle Inn, St. Ives, and were followed by election to membership of the Penwith Society of Artists.
Early's work quickly grew in confidence and sophistication, his paintings critically well received at a ground-breaking exhibition 'Fifteen Cornish Artists' at Heal's Mansard Gallery, London in 1951, at which he showed alongside Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Ben Nicholson, Terry Frost and other eminent St. Ives artists. Here he met his second wife, and two years later left Cornwall. It was to be seven years before a second flowering of painting was to emerge. During this period and following a return to medicine he was led into a constructive period of reflection which culminated in his taking up painting again after a move to Derby in 1958. Here with Keith Richardson-Jones and Michael Miller he founded the Derby Group of Artist in 1961.
Early's deeply personal vision aroused interest - not to say controversy - in the local and national media. He also exhibited with the Midland Group of Artists in Nottingham until his premature death in 1967, when his life's work effectively disappeared from view. It was rescued from oblivion through the promptings of Sven Berlin, with a first major retrospective in 1994, 'Tom Early - The rediscovery of a St. Ives artist' at Belgrave Gallery, London. A major joint exhibition with Denis Mitchell, 'The Rock and the Light', at the Penwith Galleries, St. Ives in 1996 was followed by a number of mixed exhibitions. In 2005, the catalogue raisonné of his work was published by Sansom & Company.Publications:
Eunice Campbell (1994), The Magic Shuttle: The Story of Tom Early St. Ives and After, Redcliffe Press Ltd.
Denis Wilcox and Michael Miller (2005), Tom Early - The Catalogued Work, Sansom & Co.