Max Barrett started life as the wild boy of Penzance and ended as the wild man of sculpting. For the past 25 years Barrett worked in a variety of media, from the granite he found in the hills and quarries around his Cornish home to alabaster, slate, wood (including driftwood) and coal. He cut the sculpture Meeting Place, which now stands outside Sainsbury's in Truro, from a 10- ton granite block. He used a 6cwt block of alabaster to make Five Semi- Quavers, inspired by the bird-catcher Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute, and in a BBC television programme made in the summer of 1996 and broadcast early this year he sat on an enormous granite boulder in a field near his home and described how he was going to find "the shape within the stone".
Barrett came from old Cornish and gypsy stock. His early years were marked by clashes with the law, his family and society. He was the son of one of Cornwall's famous boxers, Tommy Barrett, who was welter-weight champion of the West of England in the 1930s. Barrett himself was an amateur boxer for a while, and also worked on the land and at sea in a variety of jobs. He did two years' National Service, during which time he trained as an engineer and travelled the world with the Navy, then settled in Southampton for a short while before eventually returning to his native West Penwith in the 1960s.
Although he "whittled away at wood" and dabbled with painting as a youth, it was not until he was in his late thirties that he wandered into an art gallery in St Ives and was inspired to start carving seriously.
Barrett's work and life were characterised by courage and a strongly individual streak. He had no respect for the orthodox artistic community - he always had a few ripe words for its representatives. They, in turn, found it hard to come to terms with his obvious talent combined with a scathing honesty and lack of reverence for the artistic establishment. For many years he struggled financially because he refused to recognise committees or organisations which he felt "promoted mediocrity". Now his work is exhibited widely throughout the West Country and in London, and at the time of his death he was planning an exhibition in America.