|Thermal - Lanyon|
As well, every time I fly I marvel at the sense of buoyancy in the air and that some warm air can lift a several hundred kilogram aircraft and pilot combination.
So how did gliding inspire or influence Lanyon? An extract from a review of an exhibition Silent Rhythms by Simon Allen says “The St. Ives painter Peter Lanyon, who took up gliding in 1959, said of his aerial experience: "The air is a very definite world of activity, as complex and demanding as the sea... The thermal itself is a current of hot air rising and eventually condensing into a cloud. It is invisible and can only be apprehended by an instrument such as a glider. The basic source of all soaring flight is the thermal". These meteorological observations found expression in Lanyon's vigorous pictorial language. By untethering himself from the earth to fly above it, he discovered a new way of understanding terrestrial features and their interaction with the ever-changing sea and ambient light.”
In his own words:
‘It is impossible for me to make a painting which has no reference to the powerful environment in which I live.’
‘Paint represents experience and makes it actual.’
Lanyon described landscape painting as 'a true ambition like the mountaineer who cannot see a mountain without wishing to climb it or a glider pilot who cannot see the clouds without feeling the lift inside them. These things take us into places where our trial is with forces greater than ourselves, where skill and training and courage combine to make us transcend our ordinary lives.'
Gliding gave him the chance 'to experience my county from outside returning to land rather than emerging from inside.'
All interesting perspectives I can identify with.
I managed to track down some of his gliding works online and I have to say I like them. Here's a few examples below.
|Soaring Flight - Lanyon|
|Solo Flight - Lanyon|
In Ginger Hill, the black line is 'suggestive of a glider’s path across an autumnal aerial landform'
|Ginger Hill - Lanyon|
Lanyon was born in St Ives in Cornwall, and began exhibiting in 1949. He didn't sell much but received notice from the art world, exhibiting in New York by 1957 and winning a number of prizes.
He took up gliding in 1959, soloed in 1960, got his C in 1961 and his Silver C in 1962. He was flying a Slingsby Skylark 3 (see picture of the type below) at Devon on 27 August 1964 when he had a crash on landing. An eyewitness described it as follows: 'I did observe the latter part of the crash and remember the left wing of the Skylark 3 he was flying in contact with the tarmac runway and bending a great deal. This occurred at Dunkeswell with the Devon and Somerset club before its move to North Hill. I recall being told that Peter was only kept in hospital because of a comparatively minor back injury and then suddenly died when the enforced inactivity allowed a blood clot, formed at a bruise on his leg, to reach the brain.