An artist from St Ives has been honoured with an exhibition to mark then centenary of his birth.
Born in 1918, Peter Lanyon unfortunately died in a gliding accident in 1964. His traditional landscape art works were held in high regard, particularly by the singer, the late David Bowie, who had four of Lanyon’s work in his collection.
At first glance, Lanyon’s work may appear to be oil drawings by a young child, with colours smeared over one another. But perhaps you have to understand the artist to appreciate the art work. Within the art world, Lanyon is credited with transforming landscape art. The use of colours is a vibrant attempt to capture the unbridled emotion of being physically in the place at the time. Sure, it is not neat as in a photograph, or a detailed still life painting. But the art perhaps captures the underlying emotion, albeit a raw, childish one, of the subject in question.
The last of the above paintings, Wheal Owles, is an oil on board painting that dates back to 1958. At first it looks like a fishing boat on sea, and visitors unfamiliar to area may think it is a representation of a boat and St Ives history as a fishing town.
However, Wheal Owles is actually a tin mine near Botallack, near St Just. In January 1893, miners working underground were drowned when water rushed in. When you look again at the picture, now that streak of black in the middle makes sense – it is the mining shaft. The boarded shapes around it not only suggest the materials on the ground, but the feeling of being trapped and bordered with no way out echoes the fear of the men who were trapped and eventually died. It is said that before the water flooded in, a gust of wind blew out the lights, leaving the man trapped in darkness. This mirrors the lack of light in the work.
‘Peter Lanyon: Cornwall Inside Out’ at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, in St James’s, London, is open until 16 March.