Q&A WITH JACK DAVIS-INTERVIEW
Jack has been dedicated to his art practice from an early age. Now a tutor at the Newlyn School of Art, he exhibits nationally and internationally, including at the Scope Art Fair Miami, PROTECHT in association with the Whitechapel Gallery, The Threadneedle Prize: ‘Figurative Art Today’, ‘Critics Choice’ Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and was an invited artist to ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ in Cottesloe, Australia.
Combining a variety of marks, textures and layers Jack creates an immersive and expressive response to the Cornish coastline. Jack often paints en plein air and encourages the essence of a place to naturally arise through the process.
We caught up with Jack this week before the release of his new paintings for a quick Q&A.
NCA: JACK, TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
Growing up in a rural village near Bath I began painting seriously at the age of 16. Inspired by the artworks of Kurt Jackson and Hannah Woodman that I viewed at the Royal Victoria Gallery I began painting en plein air after school and quickly became obsessed with the materiality of paint and being immersed in the landscape.
Deciding I wanted to study by the sea I applied to Falmouth University to read Fine Art, no other university had the resources, tutors or inspirational location. While studying I worked day and night. Specialising in sculpture at university I learnt traditional techniques like wood/ plaster carving, clay/wax moulding, welding and cast a bronze medal that was displayed in the British Museum. With a make shift studio at home I would paint in the evenings and produced a degree show displaying painting and sculpture together.
I feel the first 10 years of my practice was very experimental and this has given me a rich vocabulary of techniques to draw upon. Graduating in 2012 I have held 5 solo shows in building of historic importance and exhibited nationally and internationally. I lived in Sydney for 6 months while I created my sculpture for a major outdoor public exhibition (Sculpture By The Sea), which was extremely challenging and rewarding, it felt like I had condensed a degree into that short period of time but the depth of experience gained was immense. Returning to the UK I was able to find a studio near St Ives and have been living in Cornwall ever since.
NCA: WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE?
“The west Penwith peninsula is at the end of the line, remote, rugged and embodied with an ancient primal majesty. Living in such an impressionable environment evokes plenty of inspiration on a daily basis; I am drawn to raw power of the natural environment and the sublime effect of light. I try to harness the impulsive energy of my subject matter and create order out of chaos like the landscape I inhabit.”
NCA: YOU USE A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT MEDIUMS. WHY IS THIS AND DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE?
I will generally use acrylic as the under-painting to create dynamic layers that are very free and expressive. I then use oil in thin layers and for impasto marks, I find myself using a rag a lot in the process and inevitably my hands. I really need to use gloves because I wash my hands 100 times a day. Using canvas, wooden panels and aluminium, each surface has a difference quality that I use to best achieve the desire aesthetic.
NCA: TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH NEWLYN ART SCHOOL?
I lead a five-day expressive landscape course and also tutor the 1-week landscape and defining practice course. It’s a really enjoyable and enriching experience and the people you meet are always absolutely fantastic, I try to inject a spontaneous approach into the students work and respond individually to encourage the progression of their painting. Through technical demonstrations, discussing conceptual narratives and most importantly giving confidence. I have to be honest and respond intuitively to students work so I try to always end on a positive direction to move the painting in. Sometimes I have to tear paintings away from people because the work is finished but they are about to put more paint on and ruin it. We really have great fun, working outside and back in the studio at the school I am always really impressed by the students work.
NCA: FINALLY, YOUR STUDIO FOLLOWS A SIMILAR STORY TO THAT OF OUR GALLERY. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE BUILDING AND YOUR MOVES TO RENOVATE IT?
In 2016 I purchased a former Sunday school to live and work from and my practice has been greatly inspired by the location I now live. Situated along the Tin coast near St Just I have the light, space and isolation to fully immerse myself in my practice. The scale of my work is also increasing but the most important factor is the fantastic light I now have! I’m slowly converting the main space to better suit its function and have added an outbuilding for messy/toxic processes. The large main room is now a clean space for viewing/displaying works without the studio clutter.
Follow Jack on Instagram @jackdavis_fineart