Locke studied art in London, Corsham Bath and Edinburgh. During the 1970s, he lived and worked in London. In 1979 Locke was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and he became artist in residence at Arizona State University.
Locke received international acclaim for his extensive body of work, exhibiting in biennials and solo shows including Sao Paulo, Brazil; Medellin, Colombia; Cuenca, Ecuador; Budapest, Hungary; Faenza, Italy; V&A Museum, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Hayward Gallery, London, UK; Nottingham, UK; Aljira Art Gallery, Newark, NJ; Biennial Atlanta, GA; Master Artist Series, Atlanta,GA; Studio Museum of Harlem, NY. His gallery shows include Nexus, City Gallery East, Solomon Projects, Atlanta, GA; Tucson Museum of Art, AZ. He is represented by Skoto Gallery in NY and the Stella Jones Art Gallery in New Orleans.
He may be best known in the UK for his group of paintings and sculptures The Plantation Series – forms held in strict lines and grids, connected as if with chains or a series of bars, analogous he has said, to the system whereby one group of people are kept in economic and political subjugation by another.
Disillusioned with the slow progress of his career in the UK, he moved to America in 1979 when he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1990 he moved from Arizona to Atlanta, where the work of African-American vernacular artists made a dramatic impact on him.
Locke began painting in 1947 under ER Burrowes, MBE, in the Working People’s Art Class in Georgetown, Guyana. Awarded a British Council Scholarship in 1954, he studied at Bath Academy of Art in Wiltshire, England. In 1959 he was awarded a Guyana Government Award to Edinburgh University, Scotland.
During the following eleven years spent in the Southwest, Locke was known for his figurative sculptures in bronze and for his series of articles on the contemporary art of the Southwest in Artspace magazine, for which he was Arizona correspondent. In 1982 he was the art critic for New Times, a weekly news and arts journal in Phoenix. His art criticism has also appeared in Arts Magazine.
The first wife was the painter and ceramicist Lelia Locke, with whom he had 3 children – the eldest of which is UK sculptor Hew Locke whose exhibition Kingdom of the Blind at Rivington Place was presented by Iniva in 2008.