Born in Penzance, the son of Cornish boxer Tommy Barrett, he was himself an amateur boxer for a period before taking up sculpture in 1972. His occupations as a steeplejack and steel erector influenced him strongly in relation to structures, and he believed in the spirit of the materials with which he worked. He worked not only in wood and stone but also in steel and other metals; he usually worked stone in winter and wood in summer.
Something of a gypsy character, and from living many years in caravans and makeshift structures, he was independent of most other artists, and joined no organisations or committees related to the bureaucratic systems of art. Living in a caravan in the woods near Hayle he was unpredictable in his responses, but also deeply spiritual about the work he produced. His friend, Roger White, took his career in hand in later years and sold sculptures for him from his decorative arts and oriental carpet emporium in Chapel Street, Penzance. In 1982 Max was commissioned to construct Gentle Wave at Land's End; and large works by him, both in stone and steel, are located at Truro (Sainsbury's Supermarket) and at Hayle: he presented a sculpture to the town, a lithe figure of a young girl holding a fish aloft, and this has been installed on the harbour front.
When he knew he was terminally ill he held a large one man exhibition and sale of his work at the Acorn Theatre, Penzance in 1996, and in the town's Royal Geological Museum, accepting any reasonable offers from the public.
Sculpting and wood carving
works and access
Works and Access include: Hayle harbour: Girl with fish (sculpture); Land's End Gentle Wave (sculpture commissioned by 1982 St Ives Festival Committee)
Salt House Gallery, St Ives
Sims Gallery, Marazion
Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives
RWA Artists from Cornwall Exhibition 1992
Acorn Theatre, Penzance Final Show of Work 1996
Cornwall Geological Museum, Penzance Inspiration in Stone October 1996
Cornishman 3 Oct 1996
Buckman (2006) Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945
Davies (1974) St Ives Revisited - innovators and followers
RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall, Bristol
Whybrow (1986) Forms and Faces: Sculptors in SW Cornwall