Neville was born and raised in a fishing village on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. His family, were boat builders and fishermen, and he grew up hearing the tales of deep sea adventure, sailors’ rivalries, and legendary catches. Like everyone else in Halls Harbour, he understood there are three primary elements in that world; community, hard work, and the sea. Even as a child, John was compelled to visually record it all.
After studying printmaking and photography at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and earning a BFA from the Centre Gravure de Contemporaine in Geneva, Switzerland, Neville returned home and set up his studio.
He continues to capture the seafaring community that has barely changed in generations. His paintings follow the stylistic interpretations of his etchings, which made up the first half of his career. Simplified forms and space force the content to the forefront. His narratives are simultaneously archetypal and deeply personal. By eliminating unnecessary details and flattening space the paintings take on a folk or primitive feel that elevates his scenes to a universal level.
Often capitalizing on the use of pattern Neville express the workmanlike task that happens day after day, generation after generation, as fishermen haul in their catch of uniform fish and row through an endless repetition of waves. Neville also paints scenes of solitary fishermen going up against the elements, as well as fishermen working together as a unit, and as a community, one that his family has been a part of for six generations.