British sculptor, born in Skipton, Yorkshire. He first attracted attention with spiky figures in welded metal rods made in the 1950s. These works can be related to the Geometry of Fear tendency in British sculpture of the post-war period, although, as much as with existential (see Sartre) anxiety, they are concerned with the uneasy encounter between the human body and the world of things. Man Falling off a Chair (1959) is a characteristic subject. Thornton took part in the 1956 ‘This is Tomorrow’ exhibition (see Whitechapel Art Gallery), contributing a screen in plaster on wire mesh with objects embedded. In the 1960s his work became more abstract and colourful. He has had a distinguished teaching career, being for many years head of sculpture at North Staffordshire Polytechnic.