Born 27 August 1917, he attended the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, before studying at Chelsea School of Art under Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. This was followed by a period at Ben Nicholson's studio in Paris. According to this biographical sketch (which is much the same as this biographical sketch):
With the same co-operative idealism of Nicholson and the St. Ives Group, he founded the Mousehole Group Art School in 1936 in collaboration with George Lamborn and Guy Allen. Sadly this venture was short lived, but those early experiences provided a perfect start that served him well as he put his graphic detail talent to excellent use for the major advertising campaigns and book illustrations.Sayer worked as a staff artist on a local magazine during the war. His work was exhibited widely and he illustrated a wide range of books. He died in London in late 1991, aged 74.
During the time that he was producing commercial work, he showed with a variety of galleries including the Redfern, Leicester and Storran Galleries. Derrick was also a natural teacher and by 1966 this became his full time career until he retired as head of Art for Chelsea & Westminster Adult Education Institute.
Derricks work developed around a number of themes with references being made to Nicholson's linear abstraction, but also incorporating the Neo-Romantics' sense of man in nature. Derrick preferred to put women in nature, where the timeless forms were suspended in rock formations and incorporating the gentle curves of scarcely visible nudes. His abstract work was radically different to his life work, being bold, expressive and richy textural.
Ten of Derricks works have been chosen by The Healing Arts (Chelsea Westminster Hospital Arts Project) to hang in their important permanent collection alongside such Luminaries as Patrick Heron, Mary Feddon, Alan Jones, Howard Hodgkin, Jeffrey Courtney and Sian Tucker.
Teach Yourself Indoor Aquaria. London, British Universities Press Ltd., 1954.
Houses of Parliament by Philip Butler; photographs by Derrick L. Sayer in collaboration with Guy Allan & John Livesey. London, Lincolns-Prager, 1948.
Westminster Abbey by Meadows White; photographs by Derrick L. Sayer in collaboration with Guy Allen & John Livesey. London, Lincolns-Prager, 1948.
London Treasures by Meadows White; photographs by Derrick L. Sayer. London, Lincolns-Prager, 1951.
Animal Sounds by George Frederick Mason, ed. by Philip Street; illustrated by the author & Derrick Sayer. London, Phoenix House, 1959.
Animal Tracks by George Frederick Mason, ed. by Philip Street; illustrated by the author & Derrick Sayer. London, Phoenix House, 1959.
Cats' A.B.C. by Beverley Nichols. London, Jonathan Cape, 1960; combined with Cats' X.Y.Z. as Cats' A-Z, London, W. H. Allen, 1977.
Cats' X.Y.Z. by Beverley Nichols. London, Jonathan Cape, 1961; combined with Cats' A.B.C. as Cats' A-Z, London, W. H. Allen, 1977.
About the Underwater World by John B. Richards. London, Ward Lock & Co., 1960.
Akuny the Beautiful Girl, and other stories by Edith Garvie. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965.
(* The Swift Annual illustration above is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.; below is an example of his abstract art, some of which can be seen (and bought) at the Whittington Fine Art gallery site.)