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NEIL DAVIES The Lie of the Land

07 July – 04 August 2018

New Craftsman Gallery 24 Fore Street . St Ives Cornwall TR26 1HE 01736 795652

NEIL DAVIES | The Lie of the Land

For me, one of the primary draws of the landscape around West Penwith has always been its fickle nature, its ability to mutate from one state of being to another in a very short time. The underlying structure of the landscape is constant, but this constancy has many facets, and can be affected by a number of factors. The seasons have a huge effect on my work - I love to paint from autumn, when the vegetation starts to turn ochre and rust, right through to late spring when the gorse, bluebells and blackthorn are in full bloom. Summer, however, holds no interest for me - everywhere is too green, too still and too tame. The weather is another obvious factor: Penwith has its fair share of wild storms, when I head straight for the coast. These are ideal painting conditions for me, and produce work with movement and energy, mirroring the natural forces which have inspired them. Sometimes there is bright sunlight, the colours sharp and bright - then a sea mist rolls in, the colours become hazy and muted - a different prospect entirely.


Time of day also plays a part - the same landscape can look very different when viewed at dawn, midday and evening - which of course brings me to light. The quality of light can have a huge influence on a painting - not just its physical appearance, but its overall mood. I love to paint the whole range, from the dark, stormlit cliffs and rain-lashed moors, to the bright sunlight bouncing off a wave, picking out a lone cottage, or brightening autumn vegetation. This, then, is a collection of work depicting the landscape in all its guises - one face, but with many different expressions. The same - but different. Neil Davies, 2018

The Crowns, Botallack - a very windy day - plenty of movement in the sea and sky. Sun shining but hard to stay upright so after half an hour we head to The Queen’s Arms for a birthday pint. Dancing Light, Foaming Sea 48“ x 65“ 3

Bosporthennis on the north coast near Zennor - one of my favourite haunts - heavy rain threatens but for one startling moment the sun breaks through, lighting up the autumn colours in all their glory and changing the landscape completely. Leaden Skies over Bosporthennis 48“ x 65“ 4

Heading home from a long walk around Nanjizal and Land’s End, the light dances around the sky as the sun sinks towards the horizon. Land’s End Light Show 48“ x 65“ 5

Walking up the hill behind Towednack at the back end of April - the first time this year it’s been properly warm. Good to see the gorse and blackthorn in bloom - it’s been a long winter… Gorse, Granite & Blackthorn on a Warm Spring Day 48“ x 48“ 6

Just after sunset at Sennen Cove, mesmerised by the way the orange and yellow streaks in the sky are mirrored in the waves as they snake gently up the beach. Double whammy. Evening Glow 48“ x 48“ 7

Late April, out walking at Trevega, I am drawn to this gorse bush. A horizontal telegraph pole doesn’t deter it from blooming profusely - it simply smothers it, cascading over and around it. Nature in control as usual. Cascade of Gorse, Trevega 48“ x 48“ 8

A family walk a bit further afield than usual - hot September day. A clearing in the woods reveals a pastoral idyll - Belted Galloways drinking in the river shallows. September, Golitha Falls 31“ x 40“ 9

At Sennen Cove for a beach walk with the family - today the light is magical, bouncing off the sea and across the shallows on the beach, so that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. Reflected in the Shallows 31“ x 40“ 10

Up on White Downs on a breezy autumn day for a brisk walk on the moors. Suddenly the sun breaks through, and what was a low grey dwelling on the skyline is now sparkling with light. Flash of Light, Moorland Cottage 31“ x 40“ 11

Bitterly cold winter’s day at Priest Cove. The sea is sullen and menacing, the sky glowering above, clouds looming and threatening to deposit a deluge at any moment. One solitary boat is pulled up on the shore, alone against the elements. Solitary Boat, Priest Cove 31“ x 40“ 12

On the beach at Portheras on a winter’s afternoon, having walked from Pendeen lighthouse. Sun is getting low, light fading, though the sky still manages to be spectacular. Sunlight through the Clouds 31“ x 31“ 13

Out for a walk along the north coast, our two teenage boys with me. Making our way up the track to Carn Galver, they decide to turn it into a race, and set off at a jog. Following them, careful not to trip over any stray lumps of granite, I give it my best shot. Boys 1, Dad 0. Winding our Way Up to Carn Galver 31“ x 31“ 14

Sitting on the beach on a bright sunny day, watching a light sea mist entwine itself round the shafts of light. Everything is golden and hazy: sea and sky seem to merge in a surreal saturation of sunlight. Saturated Sunlight 24“ x 30“ 15

Bright autumn day, Carn Galver glowering under a purple haze in the background. A family of 8 used to live in this now derelict old farmhouse. Complete isolation, no mod cons - hard to imagine now how they managed. Moorland Farmstead 24“ x 30“ 16

Looking over a Cornish hedge across to a farmstead in silhouette on the horizon. Autumn colours in abundance, the granite half eclipsed by vegetation. On the Skyline 24“ x 30“ 17

Early spring, up on the moors near Zennor, off-roading - made a detour and now can’t find the path. Sun comes out, lighting up the spring colours and Porthmeor Cottage in the distance. Off the Beaten Track 24“ x 30“ 18

Looking across rocks and dense vegetation towards the dark hulk of Carn Galver, I am struck by the contrast of this swathe of bleached grass between, light bouncing off it like a pale yellow sea. Ancient Carn and Bleached Grass 24“ x 30“ 19

With my youngest son on the beach at Marazion. Rain has cleared away, and the sun pierces the clouds, making the rock-pools sparkle and the weedy rocks glisten. Tide’s out, Marazion 24“ x 30“ 20

Up at first light to watch the sun rise over the bay. No sounds except the cries of the gulls wheeling above. Up with the Lark - and the Gulls 24“ x 24“ 21

Walking round Bosporthennis on a warm September day. The summer greens have gone, replaced now with the yellows, rusts and ochres of autumn, interspersed here and there with swathes of pink and purple heather. Some see this as nature closing down for the year - for me it has just come alive. Bosporthennis ablaze with Autumn 18“ x 24“ 22

Late February/early March snow - a rare treat for Cornwall. The landscape is transformed, and even our own lane looks unfamiliar. We all tramp along like children, scrunching on the deepest bits of snow, cracking ice and hoping for more snow later. Snowy Walk down our Lane 18“ x 24“ 23

Sketching near Rosemergy on the coast road to Zennor. What begins as a sunny morning soon turns towards rain the sky darkens moodily, and the dwellings at Rosemergy are illuminated with the last remaining sunlight. Perfect painting weather… Rosemergy Catching the Light 18“ x 24“ 24

Down at Boat Cove on a wild, stormy day in late winter - everything is in turbulence - clouds tumble around the sky, rain pouring in sheets across the land and sea. Huge waves boil over the rocks, dragging sand and shingle back with them. Nature is having a temper tantrum… All Kicking Off at Boat Cove 18“ x 24“ 25

Sudden winter storm drives full blast over Sennen - clouds race across a darkly bruised sky, and rain pours over the rocks and beach. A spectacular piece of drama - and tickets are free. Nature’s Theatre 18“ x 24“ 26

A little-known quoit which is rarely mentioned in guidebooks, Bosporthennis can stand its ground with all the better known ones. Off the beaten track, but with a magnificent backdrop, I felt it deserved to be painted. Ancient Quoit, Bosporthennis 18“ x 24“ 27

Realising a storm is brewing, I abandon the studio and rush out into the real world to watch. Head to Porth Nanven, and am rewarded by howling wind, lashing rain and huge waves crashing over and over against the rocks. A real humdinger! Raging Storm 18“ x 24“ 28

Up on the moors near Men-an-Tol, on a winter’s day after lots of rain, standing amongst the Nine Maidens, Hannibal’s Carn in the distance. Today is showery, boggy underfoot with puddled tracks, though the air smells fresh and clean. Through the Stones to Hannibal’s Carn 18“ x 24“ 29


Looking towards Land’s End from the shore, there’s a sense of summer’s end: the sea is restless and a breeze has sprung up, bringing with it the smell of autumn.

This one is all about the sky - clouds scoot sideways, some whisking quickly away while other, darker masses pause to drench the land and sea with slanting rain. High drama.

On the Cusp: Summer into Autumn 15.5“ x 17“

Sweeping Clouds across the Headland 12“ x 12“

Driving along the coast road to Zennor, my eye is caught by a flash of light in the distance, across the patchwork fields and moors. A single shaft of light hits the sea and is bounced back, impossible to ignore.

Focussing on the sky, which resembles a tapestry of blues, greens, purples and whites, all interwoven with the occasional thread of pink or yellow.

Out to Sea 12“ x 15“

Tapestry Sky 12“ x 15“ 31


Early morning over St. Ives Bay - the rising sun and dissipating darkness present an array of rich colours resembling patches of crushed velvet.

The archetypal autumn day - sun, mist, berries and bracken - the embodiment of Keats’ “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”.

Velvet Sky 12“ x 12“

Arrival of Autumn 12“ x 15“

Front cover: Dancing Light, Foaming Sea 48“ x 65“ Inside front cover: Bouncing Light 23.5“ x 33“ Inside back cover: Wild and Windy 23.5“ x 33“ All work is for sale from receipt of catalogue. All works Oil on Board. The full exhibition can be viewed on our website.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electrical, mechanical or otherwise, without first seeking the permission of the publishers. Copyright ©2018 New Craftsman Gallery & Neil Davies


Lie of the Land - new paintings by Neil Davies  

In this new collection of paintings, entitled ‘The Lie of the Land’, Davies explores the contrast between the underlying structure of the la...

Lie of the Land - new paintings by Neil Davies  

In this new collection of paintings, entitled ‘The Lie of the Land’, Davies explores the contrast between the underlying structure of the la...