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My favourite artist in Cornwall is St Just-based Jessica Cooper, whose simple lines and pared-down still lifes are confidently, deceptively simple. I have been coveting a piece for about five years, and wish I had struck then, as Jessica’s star has since ascended, deservedly, into the Cornish A-list. Meanwhile, my budget has stayed decidedly D-list.
Anyway, looking costs nothing, and fortunately the beautiful gallery at Kestle Barton is currently showing an exhibition of her work. It is as far off anyone’s beaten track as is possible, down a narrow lane with grass growing down the middle near Helford on the Lizard – always a good sign. It’s a super-sensitively restored barn with peaceful gardens (picnics welcomed), accommodation, and a small self-service cafe serving a mean lemon cupcake – so good my sister even snapped up 55 for her wedding. So, even though it’s a hike, it’s something of a destination in itself.
Don’t leave without going to the toilet – therein lay my favourite painting of all, the chairs pictured above.
While we’re on the subject, Jessica Cooper is also now giving courses – entitled ‘Still Life Essence of Form’ – at the Newlyn School of Art. I’d love to attend to find out why my simple lines on paper look like a two year old’s and hers are a thing of beauty.
Until 2 June 2013, Kestle Barton, Manaccan, Helston, Cornwall TR12 6HU. kestlebarton.co.uk Tel. 01326 231 811. Free admission.
The church on the beach at Gunwalloe on the Lizard – a beautiful, little-visited spot on the Lizard.
I’ve just realised that I don’t have a picture of the church itself set against the sandy beach, so this post will have to serve as an incentive to visit for the full scenic effect. It is just down the road from the Barefoot Kitchen, subject of my last gushing post.
If you didn’t catch this week’s episode of Grand Designs, in which Kevin McCloud follows the renovation of a dilapidated Cornish enginehouse from beginning to near-end, you should definitely watch it online here, where it will be available for the next month.
Apart from being a fascinating insight into the demands of turning one of Cornwall’s crumbling mining remnants into a home, with the attendant historical and physical challenges, the programme is a lovely little portrait of how things work in a Cornish community.
Mind-bogglingly multi-skilled stonemason Adam Purchase manages to make it all happen on an improbably small budget. He achieves this mainly by being generally adaptable and creative but also by calling in favours from neighbours and friends with skills (while giving out favours just as generously), mate’s rates, and gentleman’s agreements. At one point, one of the helpers says ‘Who needs that cash stuff, eh?’ and I think that’s my favourite line of the show. Well, it’s a good job really, since there’s bugger-all of it in these parts!
Did anyone work out where it was? I didn’t.
What do you make of these pics? Not mine, sadly.
It’s great to see this crisp, modern new website that has been launched to educate and inspire people about Cornish Mining World Heritage – it’s so good, it was even ‘site of the week’ in New Media Age last week.
I’ve noticed that most things to do with mining history in Cornwall are accompanied by a crappy low-res website that hasn’t been updated since, well, the beginning of the internet, and grainy, uninspiring photography.
And it always strikes me as a bit of a shame, since mining heritage of Cornwall is not only scenically pretty mind-blowing but also internationally highly significant, yet it seems to get rather overlooked by all but those with a corduroy-trouser specialist interest. Myself included — the insufficiently informed Cornishwoman, that is, not the corduroy wearer.
It is with kind permission of Cornish Mining that I am able to publish these superb images on p&c. Picking them out from their image gallery was a task that I indulged in for way too long to the detriment of paid work, and in the end I went for some classics such as Wheal Coates near Aggy and Botallack from above [er, wow], as well some little-known sites such as Wheal Trewavas and South Wheal Frances. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did — there’s tons more gold ore on the website.
Time to click on the ‘Delving Deeper‘ tab perhaps!
Well, check out this design in their 1930s Modernist Seaside Villas range, which features a very cool home on Lidden Road in Penzance called Acland House (architect Geoffrey Bazeley).
Struggling to believe I’d never noticed a house of this calibre, especially given my penchant for art deco, I trundled off to Lidden Road this morning to check it out. Here it is in real life – hardly changed in itself but now surrounded by equally large but less inspiring suburban-style houses.
Look here to see what it was like when it was first built on open land in 1936, probably with uninterrupted sea views… sigh…imagine that. Ah well, at least the mug is only a tenner.
I wonder if it’s the same architect as the Yacht Inn, which is in a similar style… does anyone know?
Mug £10, plate £25 – bone china. http://www.peoplewillalwaysneedplates.co.uk
Last week I was airing my concerns over Cornwall Council’s plans for Penzance harbour on pasties & cream. Well, on Friday I went to the public meeting in St John’s Hall called by the Friends of Penzance Harbour. My attendance of said meeting in a dusty town hall bang in the middle of Friday night is testament to my love of PZ’s waterfront!!
Turns out I was not alone – it was packed. It got quite heated in there – well, you know, as heated as things ever get in this mellow corner of the country, ie clapping, a few ‘hear, hears’ and a spot of hissing. There was an overwhelming sense of frustration and anger in the crowd about how the episode has been handled – one speaker even questioned whether the lack of public consultation flouted the Aarhus convention (the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters)… to much vigorous nodding.
I took a few short vids.
Here is one deceptively gently spoken speaker:
And the lone representative of Option A speaking:
As a relatively new blogger, and not a political blogger at that, I have been tentative about wading into the shark-infested waters surrounding the proposed redevelopment of Penzance harbour on pasties & cream.
*braces self* As any Penwith resident will know, the so-called Option A, plans to redevelop large parts of the historic harbour wall and build a ferry terminal on Battery Rocks beach, has been the subject of very heated and embittered debate in Penzance over the past two years, creating the mother of all bad vibes.
At one point, shops were displaying their for or against poster in the window and in one drinking establishment, I even heard about an informal ‘don’t mention the harbour’ policy!
As you may have read, last week the Council waved through these controversial plans – despite the fact the only Penzance councillor on the committee voted against, despite the fact that English Heritage have upped the listed status of the harbour wall, despite the fact there are cheaper, less harmful alternatives on the table – and I feel I can contain my thoughts no longer.
In my humble opinion, there seem to be an array of Bloody Good Points to be made against Option A – all of which are expressed eloquently and reasonably on the Friends of Penzance Harbour website. But my instinctive objection is much simpler and less political.
For me, the aesthetic and historical value of Battery Rocks and the old harbour wall is priceless – and once it has disappeared under concrete and a noisy coach park, it will be lost forever.
Thinking about how best to go about this, my thorniest blog post yet, I decided that since so many words have already been written (even the national press and radio have got involved at various points), and since it is an exquisite blue-skied autumn day, I’d take my camera down to the area in question and photograph what is at stake. Here are the results:
I don’t know about you but I find the idea of losing these things really sad. I swim there in summer. I walk there most days. It’s got the best view in town of St Michael’s Mount.
If you also have an opinion about this either way (or even if you’re on the fence – there’s an ‘I don’t know’ option!), please vote in the online poll being run by the Cornishman this week – you don’t need to register and it takes a millisecond to click your vote.
And if you happen to feel the same way as me about it, you can also sign up for the Friends of Penzance Harbour email updates on ways to help – usually in the form of easy-to-send emails.
The 1930s deco lido in Penzance is a great source of inspiration to local photographers and artists – the cool curves, cubist steps, and triangular shapes pointing out into the sea are a pretty extraordinary sight.
To celebrate my first ever swim in the Jubilee Pool – so overdue, it was getting quite embarrassing – I thought I’d post my humble interpretation of this iconic monument. This was the view from my towel as I lay sunbathing at the weekend (before, that is, I was told to stop photographing the architecture due to ‘child protection’).
I lay there for at least an hour thinking that if I could just absorb enough rays, it would defend me against the famously cold temperature of the water. I noted with some concern that over half the people in the pool had some sort of expensive-looking swimming protection, including swimming caps made of wetsuit material.
But I have to say the water really was lovely – fresh but manageable, and considerably warmer than the sea proper (I know this because I swam off Battery Rocks on Friday evening sans suit and it was… challenging). The feeling of swimming in a pool of that size (100 metres long at its longest point!) was invigorating – and the unconventional triangular shape liberates you from boring old up-and-down lengths, and makes it feel more like a wild swim.
This year is the 75th anniversary of Jubilee Pool, and there are celebratory flags flying (below) and historic Read the rest of this entry »