Ah, I love Cornwall! I love the coasts and villages; I love the people; I love the rugged beauty of the moors and the intimacy of the narrow lanes, which are currently looking particular spectacular fringed as they are with drifts of cow parsley, foxgloves and red campion.
It has been such a treat to travel around with no time pressure visiting artists in their lairs and chatting to them about life, art and Cornwall. Not being able to get into my own studio and knowing that this is a time for just lapping up the atmosphere has been so relaxing. Who could ask for more?
I began close to home on the Roseland where, much to my surprise, I discovered only one artist was taking part in Cornwall Open Studios. Carol O’Toole and I happily whiled away the time in her studio in Tregony. What a lovely lady! She made me feel so good about my decision to move to Cornwall. I showed her my work, which happened to be in the car, and she showed me hers.
I love the fact that she, like me, does not stick to the rules. In her case this results in delicious combinations of print and paint which work brilliantly together.
Later in the week I prowled further afield, crossing the ferry and trekking into the wilds of Feock and Mylor Bridge to gaze with admiration at Lucy Spink’s jewellery – Just as well she does not have any kind of facility for taking credit cards or I might have parted with a fair bit of money – and the print makers Jenny and Sarah Seddon. Despite having committed a dreadful error here and failed to read the booklet properly, the Seddons were not officially open on the day I went, the welcome I received was as warm as any and the work was enthralling. I would not have minded staying with the Seddons all day!
Of course I had to drop in on Paula Downing whose work I had seen at Truro Museum and who I really wanted to meet. She could not have been more friendly and, despite the fact that she was actually trying to run a workshop at the time, was happy to chat about the ceramics scene in Cornwall and sounded genuinely interested to meet a fellow manipulator of clay. Paula’s light and airy studio felt like a tree house. You look out of the large windows across the valley of the River Fal and see nothing but a canopy of deciduous woodland. How she gets any work done is a mystery to me – I would spend all day gazing at the wildlife!
My overall impression of the Cornwall Open Studios is that, whereas in Wimbledon we get around 4000 visitors in 4 days, life is hectic and the opportunities come to us, the artists in Cornwall get nothing like those numbers in 10 days. Here the visitors have to make quite an effort to seek out the studios (I got lost more than once) and the artists have to make a massive effort too. Tea, cake and hospitality were on hand wherever I went and
some of the settings were simply glorious. Most importantly, those who had grouped together with more than one artist in a building seemed to have a real advantage and were clearly receiving a disproportionately higher number of visitors.