About Martin Davis

what I paint always has an element of an ideal; a painted apple always carries the seed of how I have previously learned to see an apple.

I am an ex-firefighter from Derbyshire, UK. I was born and raised in Shirebrook, a large mining village in the Derbyshire coalfields. Mining at the time was big industry & the backbone of the community. Growing up in such a traditional culture meant I never really considered art as a feasible career. and so-although I’ve always painted and drawn-I did something else with the first part of my working life. But even so art has always been my private passion.

I graduated in Economics from the University of Birmingham in 1976 but, after a brief spell in finance, I changed tack and completed over 30 years in the UK fire and rescue service. I never really stopped painting completely though but I only turned to art fully after my retirement in 2008. Only then, having already brought up a family and completed one demanding career, could I find the time I needed to devote to it - painting can be a draining experience.

As an artist I am almost  entirely self-taught with no formal training beyond school. I still consider myself just a student practicing my art - I probably always will. I may never reach that point when I feel I can say "Now I truly am an artist" - not sure I want to - but my art has always been more about process than end product, so I am comfortable with that. If there is any end point to my journey it would be when I have developed a signature style that is recognisably my own and one that encompasses the best art I can produce, that's all.

Artist's statement:

Much of my practice – I work largely in the mediums of oil and acrylic paint – is a response to visual triggers I see in the world around me, in current affairs, in my physical surroundings and even in the written word.

My natural curiosity about how we see what we see provides a sub-text to what I do in my work and I am inspired by the tension of contrasts; contrasts of light, of colour or texture and the effects this has on form. During the process of applying paint I focus especially on the idea of boundaries or edges and the ends of things – and in those often fleeting boundaries that define and demarcate what we see I explore the possibilities of representation and visualization, often of the apparently mundane and everyday.

I love the unexpected or the effect of events outside of my control on my subconscious. I never know if or how or why such external triggers may effect a response through my work. But I am interested in the linkages present through such influences and the traces they can leave through the narratives that are often there in my art.

Whatever the genre the same foundations are apparent in all my work but it is probably instill life that it finds its greatest expression. My still life work generally takes the form of using everyday objects and, by means of intense observation and exacting mark-making, raising them through art into forms of beauty in their own right. This is I suppose a kind of realism, but not exact representation as I’m essentially exploring objects in order to enhance what is there but is often overlooked in plain sight.  Maybe surreal in the original sense of the word would be a better description.

I try to use my sense of colour and love of form to raise the spirits. One of my abiding hopes is that, like music, art can serve to engender a greater sense of wellbeing – in observer and creator alike. I believe art at its best can be a simple, joyful experience as well as a vehicle for asking more difficult & fundamental questions about what it is to be human.

I hope you enjoy my work and return often to see how it develops. In the meantime you can often see examples of my work at the following galleries;

Goose Green Gallery, Altrincham, Cheshire

Leabrooks Arts Complex, Somercotes, Derbys

Courtney Gallery , Ashbourne, Derbys

Salon Contemporary Arts, Derby

Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield


November 2023, Fronteer Open, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

June 2023, Ruth Borchard Collection, Self Portrait prize (highly commended)

June, 2023, Summer Exhibition, Salon Contemporary Arts, Derby

March, 2023, All the small things, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

February 2023, Meet the locals, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

December 2022, Fronteer Open, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

October 2022, Anything but paint, Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield

June 2022, Summer Exhibition, Salon Contemporary Arts, Derby

June - August 2022, RA Summer Exhibition, London

Oct -Dec 2021, Autumn Exhibition, D31 Art Gallery, Doncaster

July-Sept 2021, Summer Exhibition, D31 Art Gallery, Doncaster

Feb/March 2021 - Emerging Artist Award, Creates Gallery, Monmouth

Nov/Dec 2020 - ING Discerning Eye, virtual exhibition only

Aug - Nov 2020 - Harley Open 2020, The Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Notts