David Risk Kennard was born in England in 1953 and attended Marlborough College, where he flourished in the art school under the direction of Richard Shirley Smith, a wonderful wood engraver, artist and illustrator. Art history lectures were ‘fantastic’, he recalls. It was at Marlborough that he learned to draw and to indulge in refined imagery. From there, he went to Bower Ashton in Bristol, where drawing trees became his forte. He was, he says, somehow drawn to them and they to him.
David now lives in Dorset with his wife, Angelica. His home – the village of Powerstock – is well insulated from the outside world. Rolling hills fold in at every point, and sheep graze in the distance. David lives in a forest that he planted himself. Like Jean Giono’s Man Who Planted Trees, he has surrounded himself with his very own ‘friends’: tall walnut trees, Scots pines, hazels, a plum tree or two, cherries, a birch, a beech, a sycamore, an oak or three. His own piece of paradise.
David works in mythological time. There is a kind of magical realism such as is found in the novels of Giono: a heightened awareness of light and texture, as if the trees are speaking, as if the grain is yielding up its own inner landscape to his chisel. The figures grow of their own accord. The flanks of trees surround the walls of his studio. Pear, cherry, cedar, field maple, hawthorn. These landscapes have been scrumped.