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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.
A video about long-time friend of pasties & cream Paul Spooner and his ‘mechanical cartoons’. If you can’t afford one of his automata, you could always buy yourself a bar of Eden Project chocolate, which is illustrated by Paul with the story of chocolate. The sea salt one, in particular, has a nice briny kick.
Thanks go to my chief Cornish correspondent in the capital and my Cornish-by-conviction friend Chris for alerting me to the fact that Penlee House Gallery‘s walls must be looking a little bare at the moment, thanks to a major retrospective exhibition of Cornish art currently showing at Two Temple Place in London.
What with it being 308 miles away – and by First Great Western’s calculations a £110 journey – I haven’t yet been. But I can see from the reviews that it has some winners from the Newlyn School – paintings that I never get bored of. One of them is ‘A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach’, pictured above, by Stanhope A Forbes, dated 1885. This sort of industrious beachside scene might be a thing of the past but the bearded guy would not look at all out of place nipping into the Swordy for a pint of something murky of a Friday.
I have to admit that for me there is something slightly jarring, or rather confusing, about the title of the exhibition – Amongst Heroes – but this is clearly a fine slice of Cornish art in a wonderful building. Admission is free, and there is an extensive roster of Cornwall-related activities. Gedon.
‘Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall’
Two Temple Place, 26 January – 14 April 2013
2 Temple Pl London, WC2R 3BD
In partnership with the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. Exhibition Opening Times: Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 10.00 – 16.30. Wednesday Late: 10.00 – 21.00. Sunday: 11.00 – 16.30, Closed on Thursdays
The guys at Heyday put on these vintage and handmade markets every now and again – I love them. There’s one today until 4pm downstairs at the Acorn. I came back with some knitted freaks, a pack of vintage flower cigarette cards, handmade cards, a starey-gazy cupcake (nice) and a bon bec bag by Alexandra Higlett.
On a stranger note, has anyone noticed how the Acorn sign has grown some sort of seaweedy mushrooms?!
It’s Open Studios time again – an opportunity to stick your nose into the studios of Cornwall’s many hidden away artists and designers, woodworkers, needleworkers and illustrators. Just look out for the orange circles.
It is oft quoted that West Cornwall has more working artists/sole-trading “creatives” per capita than anywhere outside London (or something…). The exact statistic has been distorted by Cornish whispers, but it is clear when you look at the Open Studios map that there are a lot of them – even the village of Nancledra, population 150, is stacked with dots.
I am particularly keen on visiting the arty clusters of studios like Krowji and Trewidden. It doesn’t feel quite so much like walking into someone’s house (with the attendant feeling of obligation to chat!) and you can see lots of different work in a small space in a mellow but bustling atmosphere. Plus you can stop by the wildly eccentric Melting Pot Cafe afterwards at Krowji, which on the whole I love, though I wasn’t so keen on being charged £2.45 for a slightly watery hot chocolate in a paper cup on Sunday.
Open Studios is on for the rest of the week, and I’m not done yet, but my highlights so far are as follows:
• Steam-bent wooden lampshades – Tom Raffield, Krowji
High-design steam-sculptured wooden lampshades, flower pots and assorted furniture. www.tomraffield.com
• Logan rock chopping boards – Samuel Walsh, Krowji, from £18
Stacked up, they look like the rocks of Bodmin Moor or West Penwith’s Logan Rock – and they are very strokable. www.samwalshfurniture.co.uk
• Paul Fry – Trewidden
Uplifting simple flowers against fresh white backgrounds. www.paulfry.co.uk
• George Meyrick – Krowji
Minimalist geometric 3D shapes and flat paintings. Could be interesting installing one in a Cornish cottage, where right angles are hard to find. More info on George here.For all details on Open Studios 2012, including full list of participating artists, have a look here: http://www.creativeskills.org.uk/open-studios-cornwall-2012 Free entry throughout.
I went to these guys’ Christmas Mart at Chapel Street’s Trevelyan House and emerged happily with several ‘knitted freaks‘ (see second row above & pic below – they make the world a better place), silkscreen-printed wrapping paper and cards by Studio No.6, and a few fine slabs of brownie. They (that’s Heyday Presents) are holding a May Mart on Friday and Saturday in Penzance – see poster below for full detailage.
I have a great appetite for old photos of Cornwall – particularly of parts I know and love. Charming as they undoubtedly are, we’ve all seen the classic black and white photos of Penzance in the Frith series around and about, so it’s exciting that Penlee House has recently acquired a collection of long-buried pictures of Penzance and Newlyn.
A choice selection from the archive is currently on display at Penlee House Gallery and this week is the last chance to see it. I just loved the ladies Read the rest of this entry »
A shout-out for two interesting things happening at the Poly in Falmouth. The first is a talk by very long-time pasties & cream friend Paul Spooner, whose career as an automata maker (“making mechanical jokes for people with short attention spans”) has included pieces for the Science Museum, Louis Vuitton and, er, me aged six – a wooden box that I still have and keep my drawing pins in. Takes place tonight at 8pm at the Poly; pay a little visit here for more information and tickets.
The second thing I’m giving you a fraction more notice for. Opening on 21st February, also at the Poly, is an exhibition of the sumptuous illustrations and photography that appear in the Parabola Project‘s second book, the beautifully designed anthology I blogged about the other day. Here’s a taster, reproduced here with kind permission of Parabola.
Here’s a pictorial taster for an article I have out in Coast magazine this month (Feb issue) about the excellent new Newlyn School of Art, the brainchild of local artist Henry Garfit.
I attended the Landscape Painting course with local artist Mark Spray back in September and it was a most eye-opening, exhilarating experience. Beginners, have no fear – Mark’s unorthodox style, which includes the use of earth, paintbrushes strapped on to sticks and speed drawing, had even the experienced painters in my group flummoxed. Having not picked up a paintbrush since GCSE art, at least I was expecting it to be hard.
The school occupies a converted granite school at the top of Paul hill (the Board School) in Newlyn, paces away from the original, famed Forbes-led Newlyn School of painters in the late 19th and early 20th century. Other tempting courses include print-making, stone carving and Cornish gardens.
It is no mean feat to open a not-for-profit arts institution (with some Arts Council funding) in grim times such as these, so congrats. With our local arty institutions looking poorly – Acorn open but website looking unwell, Penzance Arts Club closed, Golowan funding cut – it’s brilliant to find something as fresh and new as this.
I agree with the majority that Cornwall is a very creative place – partly by nature, also by necessity. But sometimes I find the same old coastally-inspired art and ceramics pop up time and time again in galleries, and I kind of crave something new and different.
Well, check out Falmouth-based Jonathan Fuller’s sea-glass sculpture for something fresh on the eye, as featured in coast magazine this month (he’s married to the head of design at organic Cornish clothing company, seasalt, so they are the perfect Coast couple).
I really love the washed-out pastel colours and the clean lines and shapes of Jonny’s artwork, and I feel quite inspired to start collecting and categorising glass in satisfyingly colour-coded jars. I wonder if, as in my childhood, finding a piece of soft blue glass is still the top trump.
It is one of the quirks of living in these parts that the most exciting happenings in the arts seem to take place without the fanfare that they are due – never mind the fanfare, actually, with very little information at all!
And so it was that I found out about an amazing-sounding play taking place in St Ives this week thanks to a friend’s facebook status update containing a link to a truly gushing Time Out London review that had awarded it five stars.
The performance in question is Botallack O Clock, a play about the life of pioneering West Cornwall abstract artist Roger Hilton, performed by Third Man Theatre. It is described by Time Out as “the best kind of buried treasure” and describes Dan Frost’s performance as “phenomenal and uncompromising”.
There – a mini West Cornwall fanfare!
13th & 14th September at St Ives Art Club, £10. www.thirdmantheatre.com
Anyone who went to Cornwall Design Fair at Trereife House at the weekend will know what I mean when I say that the wallet-emptying perils of this event are grave. It was my first time at the fair, and the jewellery temptation levels – always my weak spot – were vertiginously high. Short of time this week, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking – but for once I’m going to treat you to captions ;)
PS My only gripe was the £6 per person admission fee (not allowing you to come back the next day without paying more again). This did include entry to the wonderful house but on the whole I’m not so keen on paying to go shopping. Don’t mind me, though, I’m just a grumpy old woman!
I’m a fan of this poster for the Cornwall Film Festival. It’s the wunderbar work of Cornwall-based illustrator & animator Darren Whittington, and is inspired by the Cornish national [sic] emblem, the chough, which is of course making an exciting comeback on the cliffs of the Lizard. And, no, non-Cornos – it’s clearly nothing like a boring blackbird.
The 10th annual Cornwall Film Festival will be Read the rest of this entry »
…make it the Anchor in Newlyn.
Open to the public for the first time this year as part of the Open Studios event, this wildly atmospheric studio in Newlyn was once the workplace of 19th-century Newlyn trailblazer Stanhope Forbes and has, it would seem, changed brilliantly little since. It’s all overgrown outside Read the rest of this entry »
These pics are my favourites from a v neat exhibition in the Vintage Storeroom in St Ives until tomorrow called Instant Exposure by talented downalong-dweller Emily Fishpool – designer, illustrator and most importantly creator of the super-cute Teddy Pasty, ‘the cuddliest teddy in all Cornwall’!
All the pics are taken on the iPhone. Framed prints are £30. Why don’t mine look like that?
People (myself included) tend to bang on about the colours of Cornwall, don’t they, so there was something interesting and different in her intricate, clay-grey mini Cornwall.
I attended a workshop on Saturday morning with Phoebe, in which Read the rest of this entry »
I am photo-rich (cheers, Jen) and time-poor this week, so without further ado here are a few picturarios of the reopened and tweaked Exchange gallery. I am a fan of the cafe (in particular, the strawberry in salad policy, which I hope still stands!) so I approve of the expanded space and more bar-like feel.
Ahem, not forgetting the art amid the lattes, the opening show of the season is an exploration of printmaking – check it out here.
Sorry for the long radio silence. I’ve just been in for another round of hip impingement surgery, this time involving some gruesome bone-cutting and slicing (gross). The list of post-operative restrictions is five pages long – and has a scary bullet-point heirarchy – but nowhere in there does it say ‘thou shall not blog’, so expect special attention to west Cornwall venues furnished with comfortable chairs standing at exactly 19 inches in height.
There’s a charming photography exhibition on at the moment at Penlee House Gallery called ‘The Marvellous Everyday’ – a celebration of Penzance’s long-standing quirkiness. Read the rest of this entry »
All inspired by The Art of Cornwall on BBC4, I went over to the Tate St Ives to check out the Peter Lanyon exhib, his first retrospective in 40 years – now showing for an extended period until 23 Jan.
Lanyon’s works occupy a zone between out-and-out abstraction and realism that makes for rewarding viewing, I think. I prefer starting out with at least a hint of recognition when it comes to paintings, which is probably why the first room of the exhibition was my favourite, with wonderful representations of Porthleven (pictured above), Coverack and West Penwith. Click here for the curator of the Tate talking through the exhibition.
On the way out, I took this picture of the open-air atrium by the entrance – looked like a widescreen telly.
I also stopped off at the Barnoon Cemetery on the way back to find Alfred Wallis’s grave. It took quite a lot of finding in the fading winter light – as you might expect, it’s not an ostentatious tribute. It is simple, unpretentious but nonetheless charming – decorated with tiles by Bernard Leach.
If you missed the documentary on BBC4 the other night entitled ‘The Art of Cornwall’, fret not – you can still catch it on iPlayer here for another four days.
It is well worth watching, energetically narrating the remarkable story of how St Ives came to be one of the Britain’s most important art colonies, and generously seasoned with anecdotes and background about the lives of the main players (Ben Nicholson, Babs Hepworth, Wallis, Frost, Heron…).
Even if I did find the commentary by Dr James Fox a little over-dramatised and breathless at points, his levels of enthusiasm and depth of knowledge won me over (and helped me overlook the wearing of a suit on windswept Cornish cliffs in the opening frame and the glossy sports car ;-)). Apart from anything else, there is some truly inspiring footage of West Penwith. Take a look.
Here’s the Beeb outline:
“For a period in the 20th century, Cornwall was the home of the avant garde, eclipsing Read the rest of this entry »
It’s not just our Fishy Friends who are busy being creative in Port Isaac, you know.
I saw this illustration by Anna-Louise Felstead this morning thanks to a friend of mine in Buenos Aires called Emma (a wonderful blogger, even if she frequently makes me Argentina-sick with her posts about Palermo designers and gorgeous, fading San Telmo architecture).
Back in Cornwall, this lovely picture is of the view from the Smuggler’s Rest garden in Port Isaac, and is currently hanging in Somerset House. I like the uncompromisingly blue palette – seems nicely wintery and watery, and reminiscent of the forecast that popped up on my phone this morning for the next seven days.
For more of Anna-Louise’s illustration work, visit www.alfelstead.com.
Hello! This surreal photograph of the night sky above Cape Cornwall has finally lifted the low-hanging, post-operative fog of daytime telly, cups of tea and snoozing.
Thanks very much for your kind well-wishing comments by the way – the surgery seems to have gone well (I even got sent high-res images of the inside of my hip joint to prove it – a slightly grisly souvenir). And thus far I’ve navigated the precarious new world of crutches without major incident. Can’t carry? Just throw. I am working on the transportation of tea.
So, what do you think of this photo? It is the work of South West-based photographer Matt Cardy and this year it made the cut for the Press Photographer’s Year 2010, an exhibition currently showing at the foyer of the National Theatre in London.
Just outside St Just, Cape Cornwall is one of Cornwall’s great wild spots. It’s my favoured land’s end (would I like a theme park and some greasy chips with my cliffs? no thanks!), and I like the stone stack set against the gradually intensifying red-orange glow and the sci-fi stars. I found this picture to have hidden depths – at first glance, it looked simple alongside the other more urgently moving images of war and human suffering that make up the exhibition. But it’s a real slow burner…
I thought the light in the picture must have been from the sun but Matt told pasties & cream: “the yellow Read the rest of this entry »
Twitter is many things, not all of them 100% productive. I can personally confirm that it is the most spectacular time-waster EVER for self-employed writers. But since entering the world of retweets and 140-character missives, I have made no end of Cornish discoveries. There are so many sole-trading creative types lurking in the coves and crannies of Cornwall and twitter seems to attract them like moths to a flame.
Last week in the Cornish twitter village, I discovered the talented Mat McIvor (http://twitter.com/matmcivor), a Penzance-based artist, t-shirt and poster designer, muralist and blogger (and, judging by his twitter feed from the last few days, acting manager of the Crown pub on Bread Street in PZ?).
Check out Mat’s uplifting, pop art-tinged interpretations of the Cornish coast – the first two are of Newquay and the last one is the view over the rope bridge at Land’s End and out to sea.
Thanks for kindly lending me these rays of sunshine for Monday morning pasties & cream, Mat. See you in the Crown one day?
Mat McIvor blog: http://hardworkwiththekids.blogspot.com/
Two Cornwall-related stories that caught my eye this week.
More sleepers on the sleeper
I haven’t yet banged on about the joys of the sleeper train on this blog, but rest assured it is only a matter of time *friends nod knowingly*. The discovery of the Night Riviera service to London – with its gentle rocking motion, late night bar for a nightcap, and all-round usefulness and romance – was a key moment after I moved to Cornwall. Ok, we’re 300 miles from anywhere but at least I can sleep through it!
More of that later… Like a massive train geek, I was pretty stoked to read this week that more carriages are being added to the sleeper train from Penzance to London on account of demand. Given that local people fought hard to save this service in 2005, it’s a happy ending to know it’s being used. Now all they need to do is make a ticket cheaper than a round-the-world trip…
“Sculptor seeks tin miner to pose nude”
As headlines go, this one’s hard to make up. But ’tis true. The story goes: “Sculptor Tim Shaw is hunting for a Cornish miner with a ‘rugged experienced look’ to pose naked so that he can refine a £90,000 bronze sculpture that will eventually stand outside the Hall for Cornwall.”
The sculptor says: “I thought that if I cast my net far and wide I would find someone different and interesting. The historical images that I have seen at the museum show men with hard expressions in their eyes.”
Miners with their tackle out – could be an interesting new, cliché-free angle on Cornish mining heritage? Full story here.
Have a good weekend!
I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded kind of person when it comes to the arts but even I was a little perplexed this morning when I got the Exchange Gallery‘s summer programme through the post. First thing I spotted was an event taking place this Saturday morning called the Breadman, accompanied by a picture of people with bread on their heads.
OK, fine, I get it: the people have baguettes tied to their heads. I read on… “Tatsumi Orimoto, as Breadman, will dress a dozen assistants with loaves of bread bound with twine around their heads. Starting at The Exchange, the Breadman will lead a tour of tourist sites through the centre of Penzance, stopping for photo opportunities and offering bread to the public.”
It is definitely bizarre but it’s also quite an intriguing photo op. BUT IS IT ART?! Only one way to find out. It starts at 11am on Saturday. See http://www.newlynartgallery.co.uk for more deets. Get your bread on.
I’ve been to the Exchange gallery café for lunch about a dozen times (it’s central, quick and all lunches are around the £5 mark – oh and I get to gaze longingly at the hand-made vases, jewellery and books). And every time I’ve been, I’ve found a strawberry part-dipped in black pepper tucked artistically in my salad.
I *love* this touch – particularly good with the Cornish yarg in my ploughman’s this week. I’ve got pretty expectant of this strawberry now – they’d better not go changing the chef.
The Exchange, Princes Street, Penzance, TR18 2NL (www.newlynartgallery.co.uk)
More photos after the hop… Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
I’ve always been a huge fan of those old railway posters advertising trips to Cornwall – they are beautifully designed and just bursting with the pride and aspiration that once surrounded rail travel. Many of the Cornish ones are famous to the point of cliché but thanks to Jaunted today I discovered a new one, dating back to 1907 and boldly comparing the Cornish riviera to Italy.
‘There is,’ it claims, ‘a great similarity between Cornwall and Italy in… climate.’ Even on a scorching summer’s day such as today with the sea shining on Mount’s Bay and the sky a deep blue, you can’t help but laugh at this barefaced advertising lie.
I’d love to own one of these vintage rail posters but every time I come close to buying one I think: isn’t that a bit like wearing an ‘I heart NYC’ t-shirt when you live there? Totally uncool. Similarly my Alfred Wallis harbour print came straight out of the frame as soon as I moved to Cornwall – I still love it, but it made me feel like a tourist.
Here’s another goodun:
This fantastic drawing of the Hawker’s Hut near Morwenstow is the work of Jerwood Drawing Prize-shortlisted artist James Hobbs.
I don’t know about you but with all the (justified) fuss about the colour and light in Cornwall, I found it refreshing to chance upon this brilliantly unruly black and white drawing, which conjures up the eccentricities of the famous opium-smoking Reverend Hawker against the backdrop of the north Cornish coast.
In his blog post, James says, “Hawker’s Hut is set into the 400-foot cliffs of remote north Cornwall, originally built out of driftwood by the Victorian priest Rev Robert Stephen Hawker as a place to write poetry, smoke opium and watch for passing ships coming to grief on this notoriously dangerous stretch of Atlantic coast. It’s remote and wild, and one of my favourite places.’ Read the rest of the post here.
Mmm, I need to think of a job that lets me write poetry, smoke opium and watch for passing ships…
I also love this sketch by James of London’s planeless skies the other week.
Check out http://james-hobbs.blogspot.com/ for more of his work. Thanks to James for letting me use this image.
In the space of three months last year I visited virtually every sightseeing attraction in Cornwall (not as some sort of bizarre personal challenge, you understand, but for the new Time Out Guide to Devon & Cornwall). And of them all, Geevor Tin Mine, on the moody cliffs of Pendeen, was the most rewarding – not least because it came as such a surprise.
Mining heritage centres in Cornwall have a tendency to contain interesting but ultimately very dusty exhibitions, with captions in Read the rest of this entry »