Brought up in France and England, Davison read English and anthropology at Cambridge University. He began to draw in 1946. In 1948 he married the artist Margaret Mellis and they moved to Suffolk in 1950. By the early 1950s Davison's paintings became simplified shapes; then in 1952 he started to make collages, and never thereafter returned to painting. After a first showing of collages at Roland, Browse and Delbanco in 1955, he worked almost invisibly for 25 years. Recognition came in the 1980s, starting with solo exhibitions at Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, 1981 and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1982. In 1983 the Arts Council organised a major exhibition of his collages at the Hayward Gallery, London. Since his death in 1984 there have been a number of important London shows of Davison's work, notably several exhibitions at the Redfern Gallery, including a retrospective of his collages in 1986. Austin/Desmond Fine Art also held major exhibitions of paintings and collages in 2003 and 2006.