Sonia Lawson RA (1934 - 2023)

Sonia Lawson studied at Doncaster School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London from 1956 to 1960 where she received first-class honours and a Travelling Scholarship which took her to France in 1960. She went on to teach at Harrow School of Art and Central St Martin’s School of Art in the 1960s, West Surrey College of Art from the 1960s to the early 1970s and at the Royal College of Art during the 1980s. She was a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Academy Schools from 1985.

Lawson’s first solo exhibition was held at the Zwemmer Gallery, London in 1960. Subsequent solo shows include the New Arts Centre, London (1963), Trafford Gallery, London (1967) and Manchester City Art Gallery (1987). A touring retrospective of her work was held in Sheffield, Hull, Bradford, Leicester and Milton Keynes (1982-3) and a major retrospective (1966 to 1996) was held at the Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax in 1996. Lawson’s work has also been included in many group exhibitions throughout the UK, Switzerland, China and the USA.

In 1984 Lawson was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to record the preparations for Exercise Lionheart, BAOR, West Germany. Similarly, in 1989 she was commissioned by Lambeth Palace for a work presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury to Pope John Paul II, which is now in the Vatican Collection, Rome. Further commissions included a book illustration (1993-4) for Poems by James Kirkup (Rockingham Press), two works for Birmingham University (1994) and drawings published in conjunction with a Fay Weldon short story (Clarion Publishing, 1995). Lawson’s work is also held in many private collections in the UK, Germany, Australia and the USA.

Among Lawson’s many awards include the Eastern Arts Drawing Prize (1984), the Lorne Award, London University (1986-7), and the Eastern Arts Open Drawing (First Prize, 1990). She was elected a Member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1984 and Royal Academician in 1991 (ARA 1982). Sonia Lawson lived and worked in Bedfordshire and North Yorkshire.


Royal Academician


Born: 2 June 1934 in Darlington, Durham, England, United Kingdom

Died: 15 May 2023

Nationality: British

Elected ARA: 6 May 1982

Elected RA: 26 June 1991

Elected Senior RA: 1 October 2009

Gender: Female

Preferred media: Painting

Works by Sonia Lawson in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Sonia Lawson in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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