It is a swelteringly hot day in August when I visit the artist Hannah Davies at her studio near Rock, in North Cornwall. Though still in earshot of the noise from busy summer roads, Keiro Lane Studio is nestled amongst the backdrop of shady trees and neatly manicured lawns - haven to a small collection of talented artists who work alongside each other daily, their various unique creations weaving in and out of each work space. The studio itself is small, close and exciting; heady and warm with the smells of heated wooden walls and fresh oil paint. The dreamlike reflections on the canvas draw the eye in, mesmerising in their simultaneous sense of movement and calming stillness.
Outside, we sit in the sculpture garden of fellow artist Christopher Chandler, where everyday life meets art. Laundry lines and homemade allotments sit seamlessly alongside twisted spines and shards of rusted metal. Though always artistic, Hannah first began to explore the secretive, yet illuminating nature of reflections during her commutes to Falmouth college. She was interested in capturing the stillness of travelling people, as contrasted by the rushing, blurring motion of the outside world - the reflection in the window seemed to hold all images in unison. It was a contrast she began to see everywhere she went. Calm, man-made environments of coffee shops, where people sit for brief interludes, safe from the rushing pace of the city outside. Described on canvas with visceral brush marks, delicate fronds of light from the outside world bounce off the window, creating shadows and obscuring the reality of what’s inside, outside…all is in-between. All is moving and yet still.
This ‘illusionary beauty’, as Hannah herself refers to it, is transposed into paintings of sea scapes and birds in flight. Fleeting moments in a natural world, seen from a certain angle only when one is walking past - their meaning develops to the viewer only slowly, as in a dream. The filmy surface of a beach reflects passing clouds. Tiny figures walk along an endless sky. Blurred birds, frozen in flight, float through the air and along the sand. Branches of epic trees playing with light and shadow, with a sense of movement that almost breathes. Their fingers reaching toward the glass of a window, or perhaps reaching from within, their imagined roots disappearing into a dark, blurry canvas. The sense of life inside them is inescapable, reflections underneath the earth.
The hammered silver jewellery she makes exclusively from found objects, scavenged from the water’s edge. Coloured glass - worn smooth from time and ocean - sit alongside delicate seashells in ‘tiny bowls of sea’. The glass is crushed to form a watery layer on the bottom of the silver. Here, once again, there are reflections to be found. Using foraged items is at the heart of Hannah’s jewellery design - there is a romantic connection between these beautiful little rock pools, made to adorn the wearer, and the place from which they came.
Hannah’s pure love of technique and process allows her to build layers of light upon the canvas - making detailed marks which are then obscured by blurring, more hurried brushstrokes. It is an exploratory relationship between permanence of technique, illusionary light and the transitory nature of the images themselves. I get the impression that each piece is a found object - a moment in time unique to Hannah’s perception, at which we are only privileged to glance. Gazing upon a painting of hers allows us to dwell in that moment with her, to be reminded of a hazy impression long forgotten, suspended momentarily in time.