Passage – Capturing the Spirit of Tintagel Castle | Feat. Artist David Mankin

Passage – Capturing the Spirit of Tintagel Castle | Feat. Artist David Mankin

It’s such an honour to be selected out of
so many artists to make this painting of such an iconic ancient Cornish landmark. My main external source for my work is the
Cornish landscape, very much the sensory experience of being in the landscape. My name is David Mankin and I’m an artist
in a small village in the wild west of Cornwall called Perranuthnoe. The kind of things that really excite me are
the flux and the change in the landscape the shapes, the textures, the moods of the landscape
that we all respond to in our own individual ways. When I come into the studio it’s more about
the process and the paint, and almost like remembering with paint what I’ve experienced
in the landscape so I tend to start off with a kind of explosion of mark making and gestural
marks, they’re almost like sensory fragments that I’ve picked up in the landscape and then
I’m using those on my canvases on my paper trying to build a composition. Today for example – those colours – that was so
strong and all that beautiful golden seaweed on the beach that you saw against the grey
rocks and those little sparks of colour from the fishing lines and so on, that kind of lodges in my
mind and that’ll come back somehow. It’s those things that I might think ‘that
shape that I saw on that – I’ll do that’ maybe huge on a canvas and just see where that takes
me and that’s the exciting thing because it’s like you’re taking that fragment and then
you’re exploding it or taking a risk with that fragment in a sensory perspective and
then something else happens so then that whole creative process develops. I start off in a very gestural way which to
me is a kind of reflection of the landscape there’s so much change and movement in the
landscape that I try and replicate that in some of my pictures. That’s why I change the
paintings, I move the paintings forward it’s almost like mimicking the action of the landscape. It’s all those things that I find really interesting,
the ebb and flow, the rhythm out there the pulse of the landscape. When I received the brief it was a very, very
exciting prospect for me because Tintagel is beautiful and I was very, very
taken with the site. The patina of age and drama that you can’t not be inspired, and it certainly did inspire me so I took probably over a hundred photographs that day. I brought those back to my studio and started
sketching small black and white sketches, really looking at texture and line and structure
for the brief which gave me a sense of the site and what I was after and then I decided
to do six works on paper at A3 size. There was two or three that I really, really liked
and I put those forward and luckily one was accepted so it’s very, very exciting to be
working on this amazing project. This bit I found the other day. I just love
that, I just love the shape of it, the mystery of where this bit of wood has travelled. That
texture has been achieved by years of the sea buffeting that. That texture you can only
achieve that by working on it and that’s what I try and do. Peter Lanyon, a famous Cornish artist, made
this quote: “Beachcombing is a favourite activity of mine and for me a painter is a kind of
beachcomber”. Originally I was brought to Cornwall by my
parents when I was very young, and then I came back to Cornwall in the late seventies I suppose,
early eighties with some university friends and we had a wild weekend and that was near
Tintagel actually and I just love the spirit of the place and I’ve always loved the spirit
of Cornwall. And when I met my wife and we came back to Cornwall when our son was one
and we stayed in Mousehole I kind of fell in love with the art of Cornwall and particularly
the kind of abstract artists of the fifties and sixties, people like Roger Hilton and William
Scott and Peter Lanyon, and I really love that art and I could see in it their real love
of the landscape and the freedom of expression that came out. I spent a lot of time studying
art and artists and over the last five or six years I’ve developed my voice which is
what you see now. When we first moved to Cornwall my dream was
to become an artist, that’s always what I wanted but life got in the way a bit as it does, so. But
I made these paintings at Porthmeor – a friend had the studio, you can rent the studios at
Porthmeor which overlook Porthmeor Beach in St Ives and I spent several weekends there
making paintings and that really kind of ignited my desire again and it set me on this journey. I seem to have found my kind of what I want
to do and I’ve found the place where I love to be and that’s quite special really. Arriving at Tintagel Castle was almost like
entering a different country. The topography is completely different. I was struck by the
soaring Cathedral-like cliffs, the deep divide where the land had fallen away between the
mainland and the island which had created this kind of natural chasm. When you’re here
you can really see and feel the layered history of Tintagel, not only of man’s impact over
the centuries but also the way the fury of the Cornish weather and the relentless pounding
of the sea has shaped this spectacular headland. There’s a brooding, rugged, mysterious beauty
to Tintagel. My process is all about gathering information
and the feeling about a place. The experience. By being somewhere, I absorb the mood and atmosphere – collecting and recording shapes, colours, textures, sounds and the relationships between them.
I take all of this back to the studio and allow it to spill out onto the canvas in an
expressive way to try and capture the essence of the experience. Tintagel was certainly an all-encompassing
experience for me and one I was very excited to capture and remember through paint. There
were so many things that inspired the painting. Luckily when I visited Tintagel, the sun was
shining and the colours were mesmerising. The sea was this intense, vibrant jade blue and
from a distance the grass that covered the surrounding headlands had a lime green velvety
quality. The orange lichen edged the castle walls and the jagged stones of the remains
created these intricate geometric shapes. You turn a corner and suddenly through the stones
there was a perfectly framed view of the sea below, a rich umbre ocha colour resonating
against the deep turquoise sea. On the island, I felt a great sense of elevation. All these
details and more found their way into the painting, which I’ve called Passage. At the beginning of this process I was very
excited to be chosen to make this painting but to be honest also quite daunted by making
a piece that would be seen by so many people. Although there were some ups and downs with
the painting process, I’m thrilled with the final result. It makes a striking handbook
front cover and I hope members will be intrigued to find out more. At first glance I hope the
painting gives a sense of place, a sense of the spirit of Tintagel Castle but on closer
inspection and over time I hope the viewer will be rewarded with new perspectives
and connections. Wow! These look fantastic, they really do. So
interesting to see them in this context having been so deeply involved with making the painting
and the ups and downs the painting went through. It really brings it to life, and I’m particularly
fascinated that the members’ card… there’s a small element of the painting’s been selected
for the members’ card which is fantastic because it really reflects the way I work by collecting
fragments of information and using that in my work, so that’s really lovely to see. Oh I’m absolutely thrilled.


  • tired andsad says:

    Sees notification… clicks at the speed of heritage.

  • Cindy Kane says:

    I truly enjoyed this video and his journey with art. Amazing.

  • Corine Beasle says:

    I could smell the ocean , watching this video ! Very good job, this painter is good !

  • Brenda Strand Rigdon says:

    I'm not a fan of this type of art as it does not speak to me now do I understand it but the colours are nice. I did visit Tintagel castle as a child and was fascinated by it.

  • Cora Tolsma says:

    I'm not very creative or imaginative, so this type of style is usually lost on me 😅 it's nice to hear the story behind the painting, it'd also be nice if the pictures that where the inspiration for the painting came with those paintings. Because to people like me, the painting without explanation just looks like it was randomly thrown together like a child's painting. But with the explanation I can see where the painting came from, which is nice ☺️

  • ألسلطانة ماريا ملكة ألحب says:


  • Tom Angle says:

    8:39 could live there without a problem.

  • LagiNaLangAko23 says:

    Not a fan of abstract but it looks nice.

  • Mereana Warbrick says:

    I'm a abstract painter and although I'm subscribed to this channel I buzzed when I read the headline! Your artistic process is 💯💯💯💯
    And for those who think they have no artistic bone in them – something compelled you to respond to David's work… you may be creative after all!

  • Ralunix says:

    I always have to get tissues when I see you guys upload a video… they are or to cute I cry or touching…

  • Darcie Merriweather says:

    That's horrible, too tame the true beauty of nature and make it look unrecognizable and so much less than what's there.. I'm very saddened

  • laurawgarts says:

    Beautiful cinematography and music… It was nice to see the thought process behind David's art. Well done, English Heritage!

  • Rara Avis says:

    Amazing. And you did great, telling the story and process behind the art. Very much enjoyed 👍

  • J Hernandez says:


  • MidniteBlu3 says:

    There’s something about David’s painting that I like even though I’m not a big fan of abstract art… usually to me abstract art just looks like a weird mess on a canvas but here it’s as if there is a structure to it despite not being completely figurative and obvious. I LOVE the colors btw, and the greyish part does look like it has rocks on it, like a cliff. My brain doesn’t understand it all right now but wow, he might’ve just made me change my mind about more abstract art! 🙂

  • 3DaysAgo says:

    I visited Tintagel more than 20 years ago when I was studing in the UK. It still haunts me. I need to get back to it. Some day.

  • kathy bost says:

    Just BEAUTIFUL ! I think I would feel like I was in heaven if I lived there. I love your work, it speaks to me. Thank you.

  • Laura Metheny says:

    Lovely. Thankyou!✌🍀

  • grumpylollipops543 awesomeness says:


  • 99999janice says:

    Very cool. Thanks from Boston USA

  • scottbaino says:

    I don't care if she just boils water, I need more Mrs. Crocombe!

  • greenpalmTX says:

    I am an American who lived in London in 2015 & 2016 and have since returned to the states. My family and I visited Tintagel, as well as many many other English Heritage sites, during our time on your beautiful island. England will always be a home for us. My son and I have written a stage play inspired by King Arthur for the youth theatre here in Texas to perform this summer. Cornwall is magical in many ways. I almost want to renew my membership even though I couldn’t use it, just so I can have the booklet with the painting on it. What a lovely way to capture the spirit of the place. It made me cry.


    I really love this mans artwork. This video is just so relaxed, by the end my blood pressure had dropped considerably.

  • gina bean says:

    Lovely video, painting superb

  • Raffy Dickins-E says:

    I don’t usually like abstract art but this has changed my mind

  • Heath Lawrence says:


  • jennie callomon says:

    wonderful….enjoyed watching, love the work and look forward to my handbook

  • Ruth Cormack says:

    Yup, liked the handbook as soon as I saw it. Proper job! 🎯

  • Al Brown says:

    I've been looking at your instagram page and you've quite inspired changes within my own paintings. Love this film and hearing how your inspirations make it onto the canvas! Al

  • John O'Sullivan says:

    Now there's a new footbridge at Tintagel castle:

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