Living at the tip of the Penwith peninsula, exposed to the Atlantic, Mackenzie had a close connection to the natural world that is expressed in his work. Much as his fellow St Ives School member Peter Lanyon, Mackenzie has woven all the movement and power that comes with the Cornish landscape into his compositions. Unlike Lanyon, he had not been born in Cornwall, only moving there after graduating in 1950, though the connection was so strong that he was based there for the rest of his life. In 1959, he had his first solo exhibition in London, at the Waddington Galleries, showing the distinctive painting for which he came to be known. Mackenzie creates an environment using layers of paint to give a sense of rain or smoke in the air and the tactility of characterful surfaces on the land, with the whole painting carrying the depth of colour, texture and atmosphere found in the world of Nicholson and Hepworth; all this physicality comes from two dimensions, his textures built from colour on a relatively smooth surface, as Andrew Bird described, ‘layered, resonant surfaces inscribed with meaning’.