The ocean has long occupied my ancestors but I battle all the same - trying to find endless ways of coaxing the nature of the sea onto canvas.
I was born on St Marys into the Pearce’s family who have lived on Scilly since the 1830s. The Hicks Family, on my Great Grandmother’s side, go back forever. My father brought us up; four boys, two girls. Mother left on the day-tripper, I was thirteen; I had a feeling she wasn’t coming back. I grew up and found my feet, traveling to places as far and vast as I ever imagined. It didn’t last long before I came back to the quiet shores of Scilly - my home.
As a boy, I would stand on St Mary’s strand and watch the flicker of the off-island lights. They seemed distant at night. Years later, when Caroline and I were married, we crossed that brief blue mile, leaving the main island for Bryher - the smallest of the inhabited off-island. The distance was short but the change was immense. No mains electricity, no cars, little contact to outside the borders of this tiny outcrop of land. On a small island everyone had their role. Jonny-Pots picks the crabs, Mike Tender is the fisherman, Ted is the blacksmith, builder and fireman, James and Neil are the boatmen …. I am the island artist. Living here took some getting used to. There are only 92 residents and in two hours you have walked the entire rim of the island.
We have lived on Bryher for 40 years and it is home yet somehow; you need to be born an off-islander to truly belong.
I was a crofter before I was an artist. However, after pulling some washed-up pit props off the rocks one day I wrecked my back. What followed were long days staring at the ceiling and soon I began to fill my time painting. My first exhibition was at the local community centre. Paintings sold - I was astonished. The ocean has long occupied my ancestors but I battle all the same - trying to find endless ways of coaxing the nature of the sea onto canvas.
My Studio was used from the mid 1800’s to house the gig Golden Eagle and it most likely housed earlier gigs before then. It lay in a state of disrepair for many years until we went to the Duchy of Cornwall with a plan to dig it out the sand dunes and convert it to an artist studio.
We are surrounded by vast reaches of indigo, cobalt, cerulean, turquoise, deepest marine, palest sapphire ….. endless blue. I do paint the grey days. People don’t like them so much. When I started painting people wondered what I was doing looking out to the sea all day. I was just taking it all in …. Sitting, listening, watching.