The Mystery Of Cornish Matter…

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The Mystery Of Cornish Matter, WIP, Nov. 2022

It’s time to push on with several new series of paintings, all on paper and involving collaged material, my preferred medium nowadays.  Production costs and storage upsides, framing (that certainly helps) a big downside if they’re to be exhibited in numbers.  Luckily (or not…) that doesn’t seem to be an issue! This group is envisaged as being 24 in number for no better reason than that a grouping or groupings could be made in a variety of blocks.  Besides the 18 I have three more at present and by day’s end the other three will join them.  Sitting behind the overlays are at least three groups of unsatisfactory works on paper (as either the substrate or in bits stuck on) all made in West Penwith…Cape Cornwall, Sennen and St. Just. 

One corner of the NSA show – Charlotte Turner on the right.

Perhaps one of the reasons exhibiting is a tough business nowadays is the sheer number of talented and capable artists out there.  I’ve been particularly struck by this over the past week or so on my travels in Cornwall.  Firstly at the rather marvellous Tremenheere Gardens that in addition to the flora and sculpture collection houses a lovely gallery.  Here the Newlyn Society of Artists were holding an exhibition (sadly now finished) and the richness and variety of work suggests that the area is still a magnet for talent.  I had visited to see the work of (fellow – I just joined the Board) Brisons Veor trustee Charlotte Turner and mused over how the viewing of work purely online is no substitute for the real thing.  The subtlety and resonance of her paintings is in part a product of a very sophisticated technique that can really only be fully appreciated when in front of them, I look forward to seeing more.  Amongst others I enjoyed Sara Bor’s ethereal hanging that took her landscape paintings into four dimensions, twisting in the air, Mike Thorpe’s muscular abstraction and David Symonds  intense procedural drawings as well as being also happy to see artists with whom I’ve had connections in the past such as Ingrid and Mike Newton as well as (if I’m not mistaken) fellow Falmouth student Dave Westby and tutor Leonie Whitton.

The upper gallery at Tremenheere, foreground right, sculpture by David Westby, second left painting by Mike Thorpe, and third right, portrait painting by Mike Newton. A rather lovely space.

Secondly my time on the MayesCreative residency “Dark Skies;Wild Seas’ introduced me not only to Jo Mayes and her colleague Carolyn Kennett but a dozen plus other artists working across a variety of media at a very serious level.  A reminder that, although it’s tough, we now have many generations of talented artists continuing to expand their practice intellectually and spiritually as well as just keeping on going!  I’m still processing the experience, but some connections made will certainly enrich my own work. 

At the end of the Cot Valley, 1st Nov. 2022

Thirdly I chanced, towards the end of the week once the all too brief Residency ended, upon shows in St. Ives and Penzance/Newlyn.  Inevitably there was much in the commercial spaces that was very competent and often well executed but less challenging than I was looking for (but none the worse for that).  But I did pop into the small Salthouse Gallery where I was very struck by the three painters whose work pushed at the boundaries of the “St.Ives” school.  Anthea Richards used linocut prints as a jumping off point for more intriguing formal considerations and Judith Whitehouse showed a range of lively and challenging figure/ground compositions.  Inevitably given my lifelong admiration for the precise early American canvases of Sean Scully I was especially drawn to Karen Foss’ paintings with their attention to startling, calm, beautiful juxtapositions of form and colour – that is bold without losing great subtlety. Overall a great mix of work by three artists who complemented one another well.

A very dramatic work by Sandra Blow, who spent 1957 in Cornwall, before moving there permanently later in life. She is just one of the many women artists now getting better acknowledgement from the Tate (there was a Marlow Moss display plus works by Margaret Mellis, Joan Mitchell and others as well.)

Coupled with a wander round the Tate (where some interesting combinations were presented, my old favourite Sam Gilliam fetched up on a staircase!) and in Penzance/Newlyn the intriguing video works of Sutapa Biswas – the most significant of which the thirty minute Lumen was a challenging, gorgeous and elegiac piece in Newlyn – the whole experience of so much of value and quality might have daunted one.  Luckily being rather long in the tooth (and a bit bloody minded!) it’s just urged me to get on with it.  So I’ll bookend this peroration with one of the two other bodies of work underway, The Week Of Days, seven pieces in all, three of which Monday through Wednesday are here seen on the other studio wall.

WIP Studio 9/11/22 three ‘days’ on the wall, two on the plan chest from The Week Of Days series

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