Alan Davie was born in Grangemouth in Scotland and studied at Edinburgh College of Art. He served in the Royal Artillery from 1940 - 1946. He developed an interest in primitive art after seeing an exhibition of African art at the Berkeley Galleries in London. For a time Davie was a professional jazz musician and turned his hand to making jewellery. From the late 1940s Davie began to develop a strong gestural style based on the radical modernism of America and continental Europe. At the height of his prowess as an abstract expressionist, he questioned the value of ‘self expression’. To be completely free and gestural in style was, he believed, to court sterility. His aim was to sublimate, rather than to promote, the self, to reach down into the subconscious and allow intuition to guide his responses. His images are drawn from a wealth of sources, touching the wellspings of collective thought and feeling that have always bound people, regardless of race, time, sex or country. They range from the patterns on Hopi Indian ceramics, themselves derived from watching birds in flight, to images based on musical instruments, shamanistic ritual, Zen Buddhism, the scent of flowers, the colour of the moon and the spellbinding power of signs and symbols.