Transcendent havens

Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

Ilfracombe by Cyril Croucher

There’s a palpable sense of place in Cyril Croucher’s paintings – not only the marine setting (you can almost smell the whiff of brine in the air and the tang of rust), but your own position low down in scenes that stretch skywards without hesitation.

Cyril calls this “the ‘low tide’ perspective”, and explains that he came to recognise the appeal of this unusual angle while life drawing in St Ives for a short period of time. “I was taking a break from life drawing and took a fresh look at my surroundings, in particular the alternative view of looking back from the sea. I wanted to capture that feeling of the height of harbour walls and houses looking up from sea level.”

This was Cyril’s breakthrough moment, but built on a breadth of experience of already having produced a wide range of art.

“I wanted to become an artist from a very young age – art and sport were the subjects I excelled in and which interested me the most at school,” he says. “I went to art college after leaving school in the 1960s but cut short my time there after my father died and I found I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the work I was producing.”

At this point, Cyril stopped painting entirely. “I did not pick up a brush again until I moved to Cornwall in 1994.”

Godrevy Lighthouse by Cyril Croucher

Godrevy Lighthouse by Cyril Croucher

Cyril swiftly discovered a fascination with “the shapes, the decay and textures found in walls and other structures, in particular the rust bleeding through layers of fading and peeling paintwork.”

Once he found his particular location in the scenes he wanted to capture, “Everything came together quite quickly – rusting fittings, plant growth and the changing light on the granite all helped my work evolve.”

Today, Cyril’s work is instantly recognisable, and undeniably evocative. Whether he is painting Venice or Ilfracombe, the key ingredient is an impression of loftiness, and the passage of time. These are not pristine coastal vistas, but elegantly worked snapshots framing working ports, spindly piers, listing boats and weather-worn cliff-top homes, no doubt with exceptional views. There’s a beauty in the corrosion Cyril depicts, while the elongated proportions give every element a touch of the irreal, suggesting a desire to transcend the clouds.

Elements of Venice - Doorways II by Cyril Croucher

Elements of Venice – Doorways II by Cyril Croucher

“I am surrounded by a huge amount of subject matter in Cornwall but I also source material from other areas of the UK and from Italy, particularly Venice, and Spain,” Cyril says.

Mumbles Lifeboat Station by Cyril Croucher

Mumbles Lifeboat Station by Cyril Croucher

You can find more of Cyril’s work on the website of the Wren Gallery, “where I normally have an annual solo exhibition, but I have also shown at various group exhibitions nationwide including the RA Summer Exhibition.”

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