Born in Colchester into a radically non-conformist family, Roderic Barrett's extraordinary draughtsmanship was recognised at school and he was accepted into the Central School of Art and Design in London aged fifteen where he specialised in wood engraving, switching to oil painting in his later life.
A conscientious objector in World War II, Barrett returned to Colchester and in 1947 began teaching part-time at the Central School. After twenty-one years he moved on to tutor at the Royal Academy Schools where he remained until his retirement in 1996. Barrett was long associated with the famous Colchester Arts Society, succeeding Cedric Morris as it's president.
Roderic would never talk about the "meaning" of his works, only about their formal composition. That was of paramount importance, yet the formality clearly helped to give structure to, and make bearable, a deeply disturbing view of mankind.
His work is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum.