A love letter to Cornwall
A connection to a place can be both physical and emotional. Whether on its soil or deep within our memory, that place can be an endless source of inspiration and identity. My work has always centred around the theme of longing and place, the connections we feel to the landscape and what it means to experience it, near or far.
Having lived in various places throughout my life, I have an emotional relationship with each location. From the endless skies of the East Anglian Fens in which I grew up to the flux and rhythm of London’s streets and the galleries where I sat for hours with Turner and Constable. And in the present time, the sunset tides and Seago clouds of North West Norfolk. However, there is one place that has this continuous resonance within my creative soul. The place I was first inspired to take painting seriously, Cornwall. Having spent a decade living between Devon and Cornwall from 2000 to 2010 it will always remain as part of who I am as an artist.
Recently, I returned to the southwest for the first time since I left, memories flooding back as those familiar places triggered in me the realisation of a longing that I had held so deep in my psyche. A longing, both tangible and of spirit.
We had made the long drive down to Cornwall to deliver some Still life paintings to Paul Copson at the wonderful Thomas Henry Gallery in Newlyn. It would have been much easier to post them but this felt like a journey I needed to take, a pilgrimage of sorts to the landscape that had sparked my inspiration all those years ago. One place in particular had always remained there, deep inside as a symbol of the Cornwall that I knew so well. Known as the “Forgotten Corner of Cornwall”, The Rame Peninsula is unique and different in both its landscape and atmosphere. My former studio is still there in an old Napoleonic fort perched high above the sea and villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. Although there were changes, it still had that feeling of raw but cosy isolation. The city lights of Plymouth are visible, with Dartmoor as their backdrop to the North, and to the West is Bodmin Moor. To the East is Devon and then to the South is the ocean, vast and sublime, Prussian blue mixed with teal.
Not only was it the landscape I wanted to revisit but also to catch up with Old friends on Rame like Andy Knights, who is keeping the bohemian spirit alive in the Garrison gallery at Maker and two painters who had made such an impact on my early journey as an artist, Heath Hearn and Katy Brown. It was Heath and Katy who had helped show me an example of how to be an artist. A contrast to my academic training, it was in their studios that I learned so much about how an artist works, day to day and year to year. About the relationship between practice and place, style and work ethic.
Visiting their studios was such an amazing experience, seeing them again and being with their paintings. Heath's unique and considered Cornish primitivism echoes Wallis, Diebenkorn and Hitchens. A visual language that represents both place and an internal story, a dialogue between landscape and Art history, dreams and doing. And Katy's ethereal and poetic abstractions, so sublime in their painterliness. Sea mists and rock pools, blossoms and spirit. The soul of Rame and of that forgotten corner of Cornwall, captured through fluidity and mark-making, gesture and light.
You can find out more about Heath and Katy on their websites
So as I return to my studio in Norfolk, both Geographically and atmospherically so far away from Cornwall, I have begun to sketch out some ideas for a series based on my relationship with the place. A love letter of sorts to an enduring romance, tinged with longing and steeped in memory. It was a beautiful trip back to this magical place, with beautiful company and new memories made, all of which will inform the new series (To be announced soon).