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  • It's such an honour to be selected out of so many artists to make this painting of such

  • an iconic ancient Cornish landmark.

  • My main external source for my work is the Cornish landscape, very much the sensory experience

  • of being in the landscape.

  • My name is David Mankin and I'm an artist in a small village in the wild west of Cornwall

  • called Perranuthnoe.

  • The kind of things that really excite me are the flux and the change in the landscape

  • the shapes, the textures, the moods of the landscape that we all respond to in our own individual ways.

  • When I come into the studio it's more about the process and the paint, and almost like

  • remembering with paint what I've experienced in the landscape so I tend to start off with

  • a kind of explosion of mark making and gestural marks, they're almost like sensory fragments

  • that I've picked up in the landscape and then I'm using those on my canvases on my paper

  • trying to build a composition.

  • Today for example - those colours - that was so strong and all that beautiful golden seaweed

  • on the beach that you saw against the grey rocks and those little sparks of colour from

  • the fishing lines and so on, that kind of lodges in my mind and that'll come back somehow.

  • It's those things that I might think 'that shape that I saw on that - I'll do that'

  • maybe huge on a canvas and just see where that takes me and that's the exciting thing because it's

  • like you're taking that fragment and then you're exploding it or taking a risk with

  • that fragment in a sensory perspective and then something else happens so then that whole

  • creative process develops.

  • I start off in a very gestural way which to me is a kind of reflection of the landscape

  • there's so much change and movement in the landscape that I try and replicate that in

  • some of my pictures. That's why I change the paintings, I move the paintings forward it's

  • almost like mimicking the action of the landscape.

  • It's all those things that I find really interesting, the ebb and flow, the rhythm out there

  • the pulse of the landscape.

  • When I received the brief it was a very, very exciting prospect for me because Tintagel

  • is beautiful and I was very, very taken with the site.

  • The patina of age and drama that you can't not be inspired, and it certainly did inspire me so

  • I took probably over a hundred photographs that day.

  • I brought those back to my studio and started sketching small black and white sketches, really

  • looking at texture and line and structure for the brief which gave me a sense of the

  • site and what I was after and then I decided to do six works on paper at A3 size. There

  • was two or three that I really, really liked and I put those forward and luckily one was

  • accepted so it's very, very exciting to be working on this amazing project.

  • This bit I found the other day. I just love that, I just love the shape of it, the mystery

  • of where this bit of wood has travelled. That texture has been achieved by years of the

  • sea buffeting that. That texture you can only achieve that by working on it and that's what

  • I try and do.

  • Peter Lanyon, a famous Cornish artist, made this quote: "Beachcombing is a favourite activity

  • of mine and for me a painter is a kind of beachcomber".

  • Originally I was brought to Cornwall by my parents when I was very young, and then I came

  • back to Cornwall in the late seventies I suppose, early eighties with some university friends

  • and we had a wild weekend and that was near Tintagel actually and I just love the spirit

  • of the place and I've always loved the spirit of Cornwall. And when I met my wife and we

  • came back to Cornwall when our son was one and we stayed in Mousehole I kind of fell

  • in love with the art of Cornwall and particularly the kind of abstract artists of the fifties

  • and sixties, people like Roger Hilton and William Scott and Peter Lanyon, and I really love that

  • art and I could see in it their real love of the landscape and the freedom of expression

  • that came out. I spent a lot of time studying art and artists and over the last five or

  • six years I've developed my voice which is what you see now.

  • When we first moved to Cornwall my dream was to become an artist, that's always what I wanted

  • but life got in the way a bit as it does, so. But I made these paintings at Porthmeor - a friend

  • had the studio, you can rent the studios at Porthmeor which overlook Porthmeor Beach in

  • St Ives and I spent several weekends there making paintings and that really kind of ignited

  • my desire again and it set me on this journey.

  • I seem to have found my kind of what I want to do and I've found the place where I love

  • to be and that's quite special really.

  • Arriving at Tintagel Castle was almost like entering a different country. The topography

  • is completely different. I was struck by the soaring Cathedral-like cliffs, the deep divide

  • where the land had fallen away between the mainland and the island which had created

  • this kind of natural chasm. When you're here you can really see and feel the layered history

  • of Tintagel, not only of man's impact over the centuries but also the way the fury of

  • the Cornish weather and the relentless pounding of the sea has shaped this spectacular headland.

  • There's a brooding, rugged, mysterious beauty to Tintagel.

  • My process is all about gathering information and the feeling about a place. The experience.

  • By being somewhere, I absorb the mood and atmosphere - collecting and recording shapes, colours,

  • textures, sounds and the relationships between them. I take all of this back to the studio and

  • allow it to spill out onto the canvas in an expressive way to try and capture the essence

  • of the experience.

  • Tintagel was certainly an all-encompassing experience for me and one I was very excited

  • to capture and remember through paint. There were so many things that inspired the painting.

  • Luckily when I visited Tintagel, the sun was shining and the colours were mesmerising.

  • The sea was this intense, vibrant jade blue and from a distance the grass that covered the

  • surrounding headlands had a lime green velvety quality. The orange lichen edged the castle

  • walls and the jagged stones of the remains created these intricate geometric shapes.

  • You turn a corner and suddenly through the stones there was a perfectly framed view of the sea

  • below, a rich umbre ocha colour resonating against the deep turquoise sea.

  • On the island, I felt a great sense of elevation. All these details and more found their way into the

  • painting, which I've called Passage.

  • At the beginning of this process I was very excited to be chosen to make this painting

  • but to be honest also quite daunted by making a piece that would be seen by so many people.

  • Although there were some ups and downs with the painting process, I'm thrilled with the

  • final result. It makes a striking handbook front cover and I hope members will be intrigued

  • to find out more. At first glance I hope the painting gives a sense of place, a sense of

  • the spirit of Tintagel Castle but on closer inspection and over time I hope the viewer

  • will be rewarded with new perspectives and connections.

  • Wow! These look fantastic, they really do. So interesting to see them in this context having

  • been so deeply involved with making the painting and the ups and downs the painting went through.

  • It really brings it to life, and I'm particularly fascinated that the members' card...

  • there's a small element of the painting's been selected for the members' card which is fantastic because

  • it really reflects the way I work by collecting fragments of information and using that in

  • my work, so that's really lovely to see.

  • Oh I'm absolutely thrilled.

It's such an honour to be selected out of so many artists to make this painting of such

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Passage - Capturing the Spirit of Tintagel Castle | Feat. Artist David Mankin

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/28
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