Author, art critic, and artist Peter Davies on Nicky Knill-Jones’ new show, Coast, which is at the Salthouse Gallery, St Ives, from 22nd-28th July.
Nicky Knill-Jones captures the wild Atlantic seaboard in Cornwall in full roaring swing. Focusing, as well she might, on the rugged, weather-beaten north Cornish coast, the artist captures the sheer weight, power, energy and movement of rolling Atlantic breakers.
Porthcurno Energy, Waves Crashing, and Porthcurno Light are speedily executed pictures that say it all. This subject matter unleashes gestural and painterly handling, with brush dipped into a credible and felicitous naturalistic palette of jade, blue grey, and foam white.
Knill-Jones studied in the early to mid-1990s at Kingston School of Art in Surrey, following in the footsteps of kitchen sinker John Bratby, a Kingston alumnus from the 50s. Like Bratby she is unafraid of paint and wields it like an abstract expressionist while remaining faithful to representational and descriptive imperatives of an ozone-filled landscape that inspires her imagination and guides her hand and eye.
A mother of two children, Knill-Jones exhibits for a third time at the Salthouse Gallery, in the St Ives art colony’s artists quarter. Other venues that have shown her work include the Adam Gallery, in Bath.
Knill-Jones’ engagement with the mercurial subject of the sea places her in a venerable tradition of Cornish, and indeed British marine painting, epitomised by Julius Olsson, Borlase Smart from the early 20th century, and Robert Jones from contemporary art.