David Blackburn is an English artist who has the good fortune to belong to a tradition. Despite some distinguished attempts to define the ‘Englishness of English Art’, its pictorial tradition has always appeared particularly discontinuous. The great figures of English painting either appear in splendid isolation or as remarkable eccentrics. There is, however, one relatively unfamiliar tradition in English painting which rises in the 18th century and continues right down to the present. It is the tradition of the landscape sketch, usually drawn or washed on paper. Although it coincides at times with the broader traditions of English landscape painting, the landscape sketch pays less attention to the specific topography of the landscape than to its essential character and ethos. Thomas Girtin and J.M.W. Turner are early exemplars. In the next generation, the most remarkable is surely Samuel Palmer, the greatest follower of William Blake. Palmer fused the fervent vision of Blake with the tradition of the landscape sketch. The result was the visionary landscape in which nature becomes an arena for the imagination as much as an object to be depicted. Arcady and Eden are found together in the same English field and one stumbles on The Golden City nestling in the Cotswolds. David Blackburn belongs to this tradition.
— Prof. Patrick McCaughey, University of Melbourne.