Cornwall for Artists

CORNWALL FOR ARTISTS


Cornwall for Artists  


Some of you might have spotted a few of my newest works featuring clouds and weather formations, and thanks for all the lovely feedback many of you have given on social-media. 

I have wanted to create a series of weather related works for a few years but never got around to it before. So a few months ago I started creating the first work and decided that now was the time to hold off on doing things like designing book covers and the usual commissions because I needed some time to spend on these works. 

Once I had decided that weather and clouds were to become a feature of a few new works I envisaged that the series would have six pieces. Each one depicting various landscapes and seascapes along with some other weather elements too. 

By the time I had completed the fourth piece in the series I was starting to think about what I would be doing next and suddenly thought that actually six pieces aren’t going to be anywhere near enough to create everything I want to create. So I made a decision which I’m hoping will be the right one, I will create even more and build up collections with each collection featuring six pieces. You can expect the third in the series to be released soon.


chasing the Storm artwork by Mark Taylor 

The third piece on the series, Chasing the Storm was inspired by the woodland and forests of my local area, Cannock Chase. You can see the other works to date in my new collection here

Actually it’s not the first time I have produced works which feature the weather, in many of my earliest landscapes I incorporated clouds and weather, but what is probably not known is that nine out of ten landscapes I have created, the places actually only exist in my portfolio. 

So this year I am going off to Cornwall for a few weeks to work on a series of Cornish landscapes which will depict life in this wonderful and scenic part of Britain and each piece will have a key focus around the weather. 

Cornwall has attracted artists for hundreds if not thousands of years. The area is steeped in artistic traditions and novelists such as Daphne du Maurier who lived in Fowey actually based many of her written works in and around Cornwall.

Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and the House on the Strand, all had footings in the area, and it was Cornwall which provided the inspiration for her short story called ‘The Birds’ which went on to become an Alfred Hitchcock classic yet terrifying film. 

As an artist, Cornwall is a dream location with its stunning and often rugged scenery, coastal locations, and small fishing villages, but even if you don’t plan on painting, there are so many venues and activities that will keep you busy and inspired.


st Ives Cornwall for Artists Tate gallery 


WHERE I’M HEADED

I’m only going for two weeks so I’m not too sure if I will get everything packed in, but rather than staying in a hotel I have decided that I will be towing my caravan to a caravan site in Looe. Looe it seems is ideally located for everywhere I intend on visiting, and it helps that the caravan site has Wi-Fi available for use in caravans, so no doubt I will be posting regular updates and maybe doing a live feed on social-media too. 

Looe

Looe is still a vibrant and busy fishing port which has served holidaymakers since Victorian times. Many of the buildings in Looe date from the 16th and 17th Century, but for me the interest will be around the harbour. 

I’m an avid crab fisher but I am planning on heading out by boat at some point if there is an opportunity, to seek the population of Blue Shark just off the coast and in the hope that I can in some way contribute to the awareness of the need to protect the population of Blue Shark in the area. Many are tagged when caught so that the population can be monitored and protected.

I am also planning to take a peep inside Cornwall’s rich maritime heritage so will be planning a visit to the Old Guildhall Museum. There is a Bright Sparks Discover Looe art project which has been funded, and has given the children of a local primary academy an opportunity to learn about the heritage of the locality and get involved in making art happen across Cornwall.

You can read more about it here

Polperro

Now this is a place as yet I have to discover and it is certainly on my to-do list. It has a remarkable history in that it was once a smugglers haunt, and sits within an area of outstanding natural beauty. 

This 13th Century fishing village originally belonged to the ancient Raphael Manor which was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The population have held fishing as the primary occupation for centuries.

The resort itself has become a focal point for artists over the years and the location is featured in a myriad of Cornish artworks. It has essentially become the face of Cornwall through art with works from the likes of Herbert Butler, Oskar Kokoschka and Tom Morton who have all achieved considerable artistic recognition.

Artists continue even today to exhibit their work in Polperro at the Polperro Arts Foundation gallery. You can find out more here

Fowey

I have visited Fowey a few times over the years and it is one of my favourite locations in Britain. Again set in an area of outstanding national beauty as is so much of Cornwall, Fowey nestles on the banks of an estuary and has a deep water harbour which has accommodated cruise lines. 

Along with many independent shops and galleries, Fowey also has some of the finest dining I have experienced in the region. Just yards away from the yacht-filled harbour, The Old Quay House is one establishment I will be heading back to. 

It’s also unusual to see a cruise liner moored anywhere in the UK other than perhaps Southampton and Tilbury being the obvious ones, but Fowey is ideally situated in the Western approaches of the English channel and the harbour has a narrow but deep water entrance.

If you want to see a cruise liner in Fowey this year, there are two that I can find. Ocean Majesty will arrive in the harbour on the 12th August 2017, and Silver Whisper will arrive on the 23rd August which is right about the time I will be in the area. Best to check with the harbour office before setting off though as cruise ship schedules can and do occasionally change. You can read the schedule here

Artists visit Cornwall for its big skies and the rugged beauty of open moorland and rocky coastlines, others come for the surf and some go just to escape into countryside. 

Ignore the fact that the weather reports always seem to place the single black cloud over the region in almost every weather report, each time I have visited there has been glorious sunshine and I’m expecting nothing less this year.

But many also visit Cornwall for its rich history and that is exactly what you will find in Tintagel. 

Tintagel

A medieval hamlet protected by a castle on the headland, and the seat of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights. Steep cliffs fall into the Atlantic Ocean as the crashing waves smash against the rocks, Tintagel holds a rather mysterious charm and a spirit of Cornwall.

Set on the North Cornwall coast any landscape artist will find inspiration from the dramatic sea views from the castle ruins to the headland, and with a history spanning back to the Romans, the castle is one of the leading visitor attractions in the south west corner of England. 

Tintagel is also a base for exploring what else this beautiful part of Cornwall has to offer and it is an easy day drive to explore the southernmost westerly tip of England at Lands’ End.


lands end Cornwall for artists 


Lands’ End

Actually Lands’ End for me is commercialised but you shouldn’t let that detract from the natural beauty of the area at all. This is where you will find the famous sign giving the distance to New York, the Scilly Isles, and John O’ Groats, its counterpart at the opposite end of the UK in the northernmost point of Scotland. 

Beyond the Scilly Isles which sit some 80 miles away sits North America. Lands’ Ends 200-foot high cliffs give stunning views across the Atlantic on a clear day, although you won’t be able to actually see friends in the USA!

As with all beauty spots these days, and as I said a little earlier, you can’t seem to completely escape at least a little commercialism. However, if the commercialism wasn’t here, I doubt so many visitors would actually go and visit the landmark. 

For some they will come for the stunning scenery, others will come to say they have been and will pay to have their photograph taken in front of the well-known sign, but walking those cliffs can be tiring so the fact that there are a few shops and restaurants is actually welcome. 

On the site you will find a variety of pay as you go attractions including a 4D cinema, Greeb Farm which is a 200-year old farmstead located in a beautiful valley, and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the summer, (25th July – 31st August) some pyrotechnical wizardry fills the sky with explosions and bangs. 

You can find out more here and as I say, don’t let the commercialisation put you off visiting at all, you will need to take a break from all that fresh air!

Cornish Artists

Cornwall has a rich history of producing some of the best landscape artists and with such rugged beauty on the doorstep of wherever you stay in this corner of England, it’s easy to see why artists have flocked to the area over the years.

Samuel John "Lamorna" Birch was actually born in Cheshire in 1869 and apart from a brief stint at the Académie Colarossi in Paris during 1895, the artist was self-taught before passing away in 1955. 

In 1892 Lamorna Birch settled in Cornwall and many of his most prestigious and well-known works were produced during this time. He was attracted to the area by the Newlyn group of artists but ended up starting a second group around his newly adopted home of Lamorna. 

He was elected as an Associate (ARA) in 1926 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1893 and made Royal Academician (RA) in 1934 and exhibited more than 200-paintings there. 

He also held his first one-man exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1906 and it is believed the artist created more than 20,000 works making it relatively easy to own an original. 

Dame Laura Knight DBE, nee, Laura Johnson and born in Derbyshire, was not a native of Cornwall but like so many other artists moved to the area in 1907 with her husband who was the artist Harold Knight. She was associated with Lamorna Birch. Dame Laura Knight was an impressionist painter who often worked in oils, watercolour, etchings, engravings, and dry point.

She was made a Dame, Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1929 and enjoyed a long and successful career and was one of the most popular artists in Britain at the time. She was also the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy since it had been founded 1768. 

After World War I, she left Cornwall and moved to London and during World War II she was one of only three women who were official war artists and frequently travelled overseas with the Ministry of Information. Later she would go on to become the official artist for the Nuremberg War Trials.

During her lengthy career she is believed to have only produced 250 works but despite the low number, her works are an ideal opportunity for those just starting out collecting art as they remain relatively affordable, for the moment anyway.

Walter Langley was one of the founding members of the Newlyn Art School and again another artist who moved to Cornwall with his family in 1881 after being awarded £500 (UK) by a photographer for a year’s work. 

Originally from Birmingham (UK), his father was a journeyman tailor and at the age of 15 he became an apprentice lithographer before being awarded a scholarship at the age of 21 at South Kensington where he studied design for two-years.

Langley was a painter of the working classes and he would often paint local fishermen and their families. His earliest works were primarily created using watercolour, but his later works included oils. 

He was particularly left-wing for his era and was noted for his social realist portrayals of the muses he painted. In 1884, Langley was elected a member of the RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) and continued to exhibit widely throughout the UK and abroad. His work ‘A reverie’ was sold at Christie’s in 2008 for £25,000 UK.

ABOUT THE AREA

Probably best not to call Cornwall a part of England…

Even though Lands’ End is geographically speaking the south westerly tip of England and you will find many local pubs advertising that each is the last pub in England before the coast, I learned a few years ago that locals regard Tamar as the border between Celtic England and Anglo-Saxon England, and in fact, the government even gave Cornish people ethnic minority status. 

Beach Safety

Of course what I’m really going for is the big surf of Cornwall’s north coast, not too surf in, but to get some decent reference photos to go home with and paint. But if you are travelling to Cornwall this summer there are things you do need to know about the seas around the region.

On many beaches there can be dangerous rip-currents which can be surprisingly powerful. Remember on the north coast it is the Atlantic Ocean which is breaking for the first time since the USA. Low tide is particularly a time you want to be careful of, and my best advice is to swim and surf only on patrolled beaches and take any advice locals offer you.

I say this because when I was younger I struggled for the best part of half an hour to get back to the beach due to some rip-tides in what looked like calm water. On what was probably the hottest day of that year, I had been caught out by the calmness and totally underestimated the currents.

Many of the beaches are patrolled by lifeguards but you will need to be watchful of surfers cutting across too. 

AOONB

Cornwall as I said earlier offers some of the finest scenery in the United Kingdom and some of the most unique scenery anywhere in the world. However, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has the same status and level of protection afforded to any national park.

The Cornwall AONB Partnership’s 20-year vision is 

 “The status of the Cornwall AONB as a nationally and internationally important protected landscape, with equal status and protection to that of a National Park, is recognised by all.

The landscape characteristics that combine to give the Cornwall AONB its natural beauty, unique identity and sense of place are fully understood. The AONB landscape is conserved and enhanced at every opportunity through effective partnership working; achieving environmental growth, reversing losses of natural capital, biodiversity and heritage and improving resilience to climate change. A landscape that is accessible and appreciated by everyone.

Communities and businesses in Cornwall are underpinned by a protected landscape that provides prosperity, good health and a high quality of life. They understand the value of the Cornwall AONB and take advantage of the opportunities it provides, whilst reinvesting in the landscape in order to sustain these benefits long term.”

You can find out more about it here

Whilst I only have a couple of weeks in the area I am hoping that I will be able to find the time to create a few pieces of art, and to also go out to sea and visit the Blue Shark population just off the coast. I know the deep sea fishing boats are usually busy with tourists at this time of year, but hopefully I will be able to reserve a couple of spaces and take out some camera equipment too. If I do, and I still manage to pick up a decent signal, expect a live feed on Facebook of the shark if we manage to find them!

There is of course one other place which I know I have to visit and that is of course the Tate Gallery located in St. Ives. The Tate in St. Ives is as iconic as any of the other Tate galleries and is set overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are currently a number of exhibitions on at the Tate, and Jessica Warboys is perhaps the one I am most looking forward to seeing. Large scale paintings, films, and sculptures from British artist Jessica Warboys whose works have been inspired by the coast and landscape.

Visitors can also explore 100-years of ceramics with more than 140-works from 50 artists from Europe, Japan, and North America, and the exhibition examines the changing nature of the ceramics studio across the 20th Century.

If you fancy going along to the Tate in Cornwall, check out the official Tate site here.  

ABOUT M.A

Mark A. Taylor is a British artist and blogger who lives in Staffordshire. His work is sold around the world and in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada. You can also buy Mark’s work online here.  All of his works are available on a wide range of print mediums and other products, and all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can also follow Mark on social media through his Facebook page here and on Twitter @beechhouseart

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