top of page
Black Bird.png


oil on board

122cm x 117cm

Jason Lilley

On one level, this is an abstracted, pictorial representation of a journey through a landscape (Penwith in Cornwall). Depicted by rolling hills, fields, heather, tree and coast.


However (due to my belief that a landscape is so much more than a response to the pictorial and that a work of art is more than just decoration) there is further narrative, one that tells of the mining of Lithium and how this potential gold rush is managed.

  • Instagram

The tree becomes a mine shaft (fig.1). The Winter heather becomes iron ore spilling out and seeping through the earth turning river, earth and rock red (fig.2). At the bottom of the painting (fig.3) is a representation of the board game: Gwyddbwyll (a chess type of board game). The pieces are the colour of Lithium and shaped as mobile phones (a major use for the chemical element). A metaphor of the ongoing mining game and who wins it, if any.


The Black Bird (fig.4) overlooks the game and represents a potential portent of the outcome. In its role in myth and culture, the Black Bird is used as a symbol to indicate the return of King Arthur and a return of the golden age of Cornwall (history would seem to have rose tinted glasses in regard to whom this golden age benefitted). Conversely the Black Bird is also depicted as a portent of battle or doom. 


In “The dream of Rhonabwy”, King Arthur plays Gwyddbwyll, but it was left unresolved with him crushing the pieces to dust. To date the gold rush hasn’t materialised for either the mining company or Cornwall. The game is still active and the Black Bird remains watching. 


Underneath the surface of the painting (fig.5) there is a palimpsest depicting a batholith, an igneous intrusion. The main reason for Cornwall having Lithium in the first place.







bottom of page