Reacquaint Yourself with Julyan Davis

How well do you know our artist Julyan Davis? Get to know him even better!



Mr. Davis was born in England and studied art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, England.  Julyan Davis was raised by story tellers–his father published historical fiction under the name John Cashman, and he has continued the family tradition of telling stories, but through his paintings. Mr. Davis says of his work “there has always been a narrative thread in my work. Even when a scene was notably empty of incident, I have strived for a sense that something vital happened here, or that something will.”

After completing his Bachelor of Arts, he decided to come to America to find out more information about a bit of French history that had captured his imagination. And ended up staying here. The ‘bit’ of history was the fate of the Bonapartists exiles–a group of Napoleon’s most trusted advisors and generals who were sent out of France. They came to what is now Demopolis, Alabama–which at the time was owned by France, with thoughts to developing a grape and olive colony. There is not much known about the whys or hows and the colony did not last long with many of the exiles returning to France or moving further south towards New Orleans. Julyan’s fascination with this period of Southern history has only grown over time. Last year he was able to participate in an anniversary celebration in Demopolis where he displayed several of the paintings in the series.

Once settling on the south, Mr. Davis chose Asheville as his home base. And his new home provided another narrative for him to assimilate into his paintings. The Appalachian Murder Ballad series was born from oral histories of the Appalachian region of North America. These paintings reflect the difficult nature of life in this particular area. “The Murder Ballad series is a discourse about violence and the ‘culture of honor’ in the American South.” A part of the series was included in a joint exhibit featuring a selection of the Johnson collection by Ashcan painter Eugene Thomason at the Spartanburg Museum of Art in 2015.

His most recent series is an interpretation of an African-American folktale involving mermaids and severe storms. It was thought that if you kidnapped a mermaid her brethren would cause a great storm to come and continue to wreak havoc on the offenders until the mermaid was released. This series includes beautiful works from Cypress Gardens as well as many ‘brooding’ sky beach scenes along with paintings featuring the mermaids. Helena Fox Fine Art featured paintings from this series in a recent show where part of the proceeds went back to Cypress Gardens to aid in their re-construction after the great rain storm of 2016.

Mr. Davis is currently the artist in residence at The Gibbes Museum where one of his paintings is featured in a recently installed collection entitled ‘Vanishing Charleston.’ Julyan is available in the studios during museum hours. Stop by and say hello and see what he is currently working on. Follow along on our Instagram @helenafoxfineartchs as well as @julyandavis.


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