Born in the Isle of Man in 1930, Bryan Kneale attended the Douglas School of Art in 1947 before leaving to attend the Royal Academy Schools in 1948, where he was awarded the prestigious Rome Prize. Travelling Italy extensively he was greatly affected and influenced by his visits to Paestum and Pompeii, as well as by the contemporary work of the futurists and metaphysical painters. Upon his return to London Kneale began using a palette knife as a tool for painting, constructing the work; his paintings gained a strong following and he painted the portraits of Richard Attenborough and Normal Parkinson to name but a few. However, painting in this manner soon ceased to interest Kneale and in 1959, his thoughts still on sculpture, he learnt to forge and weld. His solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1966 followed.
His method of working in metal is instant, it is a direct way of making sculpture and the artist can become involved in the actual making of the piece the same second as he has the idea; designing in the process of making. For Kneale making sculpture is a process of self-discovery. His innate fear of repetition means that once a form becomes familiar it is immediately discarded. What has been previously made will inform future new sculpture and will change the development of his work but that form as it stands will not continue.
Not content with making and exhibiting, Kneale is also curator and teacher. The first abstract sculptor to be elected to the R.A, he very quickly went on to mount 'British Sculptors', the seminal exhibition of Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy in 1972. An exhibition of the work of twenty-four sculptors working in the UK at the time, it has since been described as the most groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary sculpture held in Britain. He also curated the Jubilee exhibition of British Sculpture in Battersea Park in 1977. Bryan Kneale's career as a teacher began at the Royal College of Art in 1952, becoming Head of Sculpture in 1985 and Professor of Drawing in 1990.