Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Joy Wolfenden Brown ~ Small Epiphanies

Thumbnail of Joy Wolfenden BrownEvery so often the internet can yield up unexpected treasures for the art lover. In autumn of 2010 the website of the Millennium Gallery in St Ives displayed a selection of paintings which intrigued me. The artist was Joy Wolfenden Brown, whose solo show ‘The Meeting Place’ had recently ended. Captivated by the strange yet endearing quality of her subjects, I returned again and again to scrutinise them online, somewhat frustrated by their refusal to be pigeon-holed. I added the artist’s name to my wish list of potential interviewees, then turned my attention elsewhere.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Laura Knight ~ In the Open Air

Penlee House Gallery, Penzance 16th June – 8th September 2012
Gallery 1, Penlee House Gallery
Step into Gallery 1 at Penlee House, and you will be enfolded in the languorous embrace of an endless Edwardian summer. On every wall is a delectable array of paintings celebrating Laura Knight’s joy at finding herself in Cornwall. After the challenges of life in the harsh environment of the Yorkshire coast, Laura and her husband Harold moved to the south west in 1907.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Remembering Moreen Moss 1927 - 2012

As I glanced through the obituary section of The Guardian on a Saturday in March, my attention was drawn to a son’s tribute to his mother, Moreen Moss. While her name was familiar to me from my work as an editor of the Cornwall Artists Index, I could find only one image by her online – a painting entitled ‘The Trawl’. The Digital Museum of Cornish Ceramics revealed that Moreen’s husband Bernard was a potter of renown, based in Mevagissey.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From blogging to printmaking ~ a journey of discovery

"Introduction to Printmaking" course at Newlyn School of Art

Contemplating the courses on offer at Newlyn School of Art, I wondered if my habit of blogging was just a way of taking refuge in the written word. Was it a bit unfair to write about artists without ever experiencing, albeit briefly, a sense of the angst and excitement involved in the creation of an artwork? While titles such as ‘Cornish Landscape’ or ‘Watercolour’ sounded tempting, I soon had second thoughts. As one who is afflicted by instant paralysis at the prospect of making a mark on paper with a pencil or brush, I feared that either of these courses might reduce me to a nervous wreck. Eventually I settled on the two-day Introduction to Printmaking – a process whose mystique had always intrigued me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rosemary Ziar ~ daughter of St Ives

In December 2010 a canvas by the late Rosemary Ziar was presented to St Ives Library, on loan from her family. Entitled ‘Portreath 1974’, it hangs alongside works by her contemporaries Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Bryan Pearce. That this painting has found a new home in St Ives is entirely appropriate. Elizabeth Rosemary Rowe, whose birth in the nearby Sheaf of Wheat pub in 1919 entitled her to describe herself as a ‘hake’*, came from a family with a long tradition in tin mining and farming. Her maternal grandfather was Madron Trembath, who had been the mine captain at Geevor. After his premature death her grandmother married Thomas Job, the licensee of the pub. Her aunt, Mabel Trembath, was a colourful figure who helped out behind the bar. Mabel lived to a great age and recalled serving D H Lawrence and his wife on their regular visits to St Ives from Zennor during the First World War. Lawrence was a conscientious objector and Frieda was German, so the couple were viewed with a great deal of suspicion by the locals.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Grace Gardner ~ a life in abstraction

 ‘I paint because there is nothing in life I would rather do.’

In her younger days, Grace Gardner was described as ‘delicate’. So I expected to be greeted by a figure of frailty when I first met the artist at her home near Falmouth. As a young woman in Chicago she had been admitted to a tuberculosis sanatorium just as the bombing of Pearl Harbour took place, plunging her country into the Second World War. The outcome of long months of treatment in those days was far from certain. Grace and her fellow patients, conscious of their vulnerability, were plagued by fear about their possible fate at the hands of the Germans or Japanese, should the United States be invaded. Though she was discharged after nine months, it would be a further five years before her health was fully restored.