David O'Connor FRSA
David was born on the Wirral peninsula in 1959. As a teenager, he walked, drew and painted the landscape from the Dee Estuary to Birkenhead Docks. He found inspiration in Van Gogh, Constable, Cotman and Cox. At an early age, David was drawn to conceptual art; particularly Duchamp. He pursued this at Art College making very experimental performances, film, installation and sculpture. However Landscape was always a central theme.
He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and continues to be inspired by its Painting tradition found in the work of Paul Nash and William Coldstream for example.
David’s studio is in the Wylye Valley village of Heytesbury where he has lived for 30 years. He came to Wiltshire to discover the world created by the painter Paul Nash and, inspired by his work, has begun to create his own Wiltshire. He has said:
“I first saw Nash’s work in my school 6th form library on the Wirral and fell in love with his photographs and paintings of the rolling chalk Downland and ridges topped with Bronze Age Barrows and Beech wood clumps. His photographs of the Avenue at Avebury captured the depth of antiquity in a landscape I just had explore. I got so immersed in Nash’s world I am still not sure whether I am in my world or occupying his.”
David’s paintings are built up of many layers of paint, almost like the archaeology of the Plain. He paints, then scrapes back through the layers and builds up more: constantly constructing, deconstructing, overlapping, obscuring and revealing until the right emotion and composition is captured. As they are based more on emotional memory, the compositions are not planned but evolve in the painting process. His clients often identify the paintings with the places not in a literal tree for tree way but in the overall spirit of place.
the colours in David’s work are bold and striking, attempting to capture the memory of sun-drenched summer walks across the plain, along the Ridgeway to Avebury, across the undiscovered West Wiltshire Downs and down the Wylye Valley. This ancient and mystical landscape is now overlaid with the geometry of modern farming, however the past is not far from the surface. As David walks he collects Neolithic flint tools and is struck by the awareness that he is walking the same soil as the people who built Stonehenge.
Colour and pattern are what excites David as he tries to create a balance between what he sees, what he recollects and the wish to construct something more than simple Illustration. There is always a tension between the flatness of the canvas and representation. He has been exploring combining aerial perspective with topographical views. Not only the journey there but also the return journey and from above all in the same piece.
David brings a wealth of experience to his work. The gallery is pleased to host David’s vibrant landscapes and will later this year, also exhibit his fascinating sculpture. David’s work is regularly shown in London, Dublin and across the UK. His art is collected worldwide.
David was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in June 2022