For many years I think I’ve shied away from green. That may sound strange coming from a landscape painter but if you take a really careful look at previous work on my website you will find that out of dozens of images there are only three or four in which greens have anything but a supporting role. Now that number becomes four or five because it was ringing the changes through shades of green that preoccupied me as I completed this small canvas entitled Farmland across the valley ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/farmland-across-valley/ ) . Perhaps what attracted me here was that as the year turned towards autumn there were so many subtle variations of greens interspersed with patches of burnt orange and violet to be found here in the Vale of Lanherne. The warmth that has persisted through September this year also gave me reason to use quite inky blues in areas of welcome shade that throw everything into relief.
Such features as these are what I consider to be matters of abstraction in its true sense; nothing to do with non-recognition of the imagery in a picture, everything to do with exploring those factors internal to a painting that create its appeal.
I’d recently emerged from painting one of the most complex of my Lafrowda Festival paintings to date (Lafrowda 2014 https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/lafrowda-day-2014/ ) and wanted to create something much less demanding and smaller so Edge of town, St Columb ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/edge-town-st-columb/ ) was a delightfully simple composition to create by comparison with the other piece. The two paintings do have some points in common though. Ultimately a love of community is a theme in both of them, albeit approached in very different ways, and rooftop shapes are one of the means that I use to address this theme in both. However in the larger picture these shapes are shown together with the kaleidoscope of human forms and artistic creations that make up the procession whereas in the Edge of town picture they interlock with the shapes of the surrounding Vale of Lanherne countryside and human presence is suggested but not stated. In that respect it follows in that genre of what I’ve called lived-in landscapes. The previous collection of Lived-in Landscapes can be seen at https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/exhibitions/lived-landscapes-cornwall-chapel-row-gallery-bath-april-2010/ .
This painting, Lafrowda Day 2014, is the successor to eleven previous Lafrowda paintings. That this one feels to me strangely different from its predecessors may be partly due to the fact that it was painted at The Lanherne Studio in St Columb rather than in the town of St Just where the festival took place and where all the others were made.
It was returning to St Just for Lafrowda Day in mid July 2014 that supplied the initial inspiration for the picture. Perhaps this time however the added element of physical distance during the weeks of studio work that I spent on it highlighted its independent existence. As with previous Lafrowda pictures the painting process was based on memories informed by digital references about the surreal images I had seen at the festival but celebrating all this material in paint here in a different town has enhanced for me the feeling that this was a Lafrowda of the mind. Could there really have been such extraordinary juxtapositions? Did some of these figures really reach to the rooftops or was it indeed all in my mind?
An aspect of this curious feeling as I worked and especially since completing the painting has been a suspicion that this time the cast of characters who inhabit it are actually part of me. Are they archetypes I wondered or even personifications of old papa Freud’s ideas? Fascinating!
As with most of my previous Lafrowda paintings the sale of this one will benefit the festival in future years. Many thousands of pounds are required to stage the two week festivities that culminate on Lafrowda Day in Cornwall’s most westerly town of St Just. Numerous local schools and other groups take part in a surge of creativity that is a great source of satisfaction for everyone involved as well as attracting thousands of visitors whose time spent there certainly boosts the town’s economy.
To see a larger image of the Lafrowda 2104 painting click on the image above or on https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/lafrowda-day-2014/ . To see images of all the previous Lafrowda paintings go to https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/exhibitions/ten-years-lafrowda-paintings-exhibition/ .