Following the successful conclusion of the Lafrowda Festival Benefit Painting Auction on July 16th 2016 I first of all felt drawn to make some gentle pastoral pieces.
So, back at my Studio after all that excitement, my priority was first of all to ’chill out’. Valley shapes, St Columb came from this impulse in which simple bands of colour, on quite a small scale, interpret the ’soft weather’ of a damp July day here in mid Cornwall.
A little more ambitious, though still using modified bands of colour that step straightforwardly into the landscape space, is Summer storm over Castle An Dinas . A suggestion of movement from right to left became a pre-occupation here, hinting perhaps at the drama of the back-story, the ancient fortified settlement that later served as a roundhead encampment here in a strategically central location within the Duchy.
With the approach of Lafrowda Day 2016 on July 16th I had been recalling the extraordinary impact for me of the afternoon procession on the Lafrowda Day of the previous year. In particular it was the Yellow Submarine advancing down Fore Street in St Just that had appealed to me. What was it about it that had resonated so strongly for me?
Some of you, like me, will remember seeing the original animated film when it was released in 1968 (Director George Dunning, Artistic Director Heinz Edelmann). I was a second year student in Fine Art at Newcastle University at the time. I hitch-hiked down the A1 and M1 one weekend, spent some time in the National Gallery and then went to see the Yellow Submarine film in Leicester Square that evening. Watching the trailer online recently brought it all back! It’s been re-mastered and was re-released in 1999 apparently. The Guardian ran a fascinating article about it just before the re-release ( http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/nov/19/beatles-yellow-submarine-simpsons-shrek ) which discusses the origins and making of the film. All kinds of interpretations have been brought to it. For me, however, in addition to enabling the Fab Four to save Pepperland through music from the devastating effects of the Blue Meanies, the Yellow submarine is simply a wonderful image of community inclusion.
The inspiration for Morning light down Fore Street, St Columb ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/morning-light-fore-street-st-columb/ ) came from a walk down through the Cornish town of St Columb. This was on one of many studio visits as I was about to move back towards the end of four months living at the other end of this community. Here the complexities of quirky architecture along the way seemed like an equivalent for another promising spin-off from the time I’d spent living away. I refer to an art and heritage-related project that, together with my wife Gabrielle, I’m initiating for the town that we have come to love. Here’s how it came about:
Our days had been for weeks split between the studio at one end of town and our rented house at the other end so this made us more than ever aware of this community that we are part of. By-passed in the late 1970s, already passed over when the choice of Truro as Cornwall’s cathedral city was made in the 19th century and having lost far too many shops to the supermarket trade in larger towns all around it, St Columb cries out for regeneration. Together with a handful of art loving friends here, we are planning towards a project that we hope will make a difference. Encouraged by the experience of art related regeneration that occurred over at least the last twenty years of the thirty we spent in St Just-in-Penwith we aim to help release the creative potential within this community as well.
New houses at dawn from Carloggas Way ( https://www.hendersonsmith.co.uk/product/new-houses-dawn-carloggas-way/ ) was, for me, about the sense of promise that accompanies a new day, especially one in which long planned for events are about to occur. In this case it was the return to my ‘proper‘ home after four months at a rented house to enable refurbishing to happen following an insurance claim, The glow of early morning sunshine that picked out the hilltop houses here from those still bathed in cool shade on the lower slopes was for me a vehicle to contain the hope I felt. For me they were perhaps symbols of the positive potential inherent in this situation as I prepared to move back.