In 1959 Peter Lanyon took up gliding and ‘Soaring Flight’ is one of several works produced to describe the sensation of flight. He commented that the red mark ‘rises up on the left side to set the whole in motion: one almost stays still in the inverted V, but then sweeps down to the bottom hand corner and back through the brown squiggle up to the red again. It’s the way you see a seagull in flight … soaring, hovering and turning away downwind very fast. The movement goes at different speeds so does the eye as it moves across and into the picture.’
Unlike most of the other artists associated with St Ives, Lanyon was actually born in Cornwall and his understanding of and attachment to the landscape and history of the region is at the centre of his work. The colour and lightness of ‘Soaring Flight’ is very different from the earthy tones of his earlier paintings, and the bold expressive brush strokes have much in common with American Abstract Expressionism. In August 1964 Peter Lanyon tragically died, aged only 46, after crashing in a glider over Somerset.