Sunday, 25 April 2010

A fine balance

Nothing restores mind body and soul more than immersing oneself in the inherent surrounds of nature; that said,the natural world must also be given credit for fueling one's creative instincts. This sentiment has been so eloquently immortalised by famed British sculptor, Barbara Hepworth, in one of her many published quotes:
“In the contemplation of Nature we are perpetually renewed, our sense of mystery and our imagination is kept alive, and rightly understood, it gives us the power to project into a plastic medium some universal or abstract vision of beauty.”
And indeed this became all the more apparent to me whilst traversing the coastal route from Penzance to Mounts Bay on a recent mini-break to the Cornish South Coast. In fact, without realising it, I was experiencing what M Scott Peck, M.D. would only describe as a true moment of ‘flow’*.

Flow soon teamed up with serendipity in a refreshingly vibrant gallery called Avalon, where I was treated to such a tremendous display of locally created artifacts that I scarcely knew where to start. I quickly realised that 'the arts' was fundamental to framework of the Cornish coast on witnessing an elderly pensioner enter the gallery cradling a backpack full of canvases, followed closely by my encounter with a smart looking painting suspended above a rubbish bin entitled, ‘Don’t be a Sinner, be a Binner’, created by a nine year old competition winner. I had read in my traveller’s pocket guide that the Cornish coast has long since been a haven for artists owing to its unique light, so it came as no surprise that both young and old residents alike would enjoy this rewarding pastime.
After making my rather humble purchase of a small Perspex bird brooch (which would inevitably end up on the biscuit’s lapel), I retraced my steps back to Penzance, determined to learn more about local virtuoso,Barbara Hepworth.

It was pure unadultered joy to visit Trewyn studios, the place where Barbara Hepworth had not only created her last works but also where she had lived for the latter part of her life with fellow sculptor, Ben Nicholson, until her death in May 1975. It was obvious that she was intensely inspired by her St Ives home - she famously wrote that "Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic". Drawing on inspiration from her idyllic surroundings, she was able to develop her iconic pierced sculptures which were to become her signature style.
The gallery itself is a truly unique space, in that it is split into three distinct subdivisions – the upstairs area, which houses mostly smaller wood and stone works; the surrounding leafy gardens, home to some of Hepworth’s most imposing bronze sculptures and the downstairs studio, where a selection of half completed sculptures sit amongst dusty tools, wooden furniture and various other curiosities; all remaining just as they had 30 years ago. It is tragically ironic that the very place that Hepworth was drawn to for its soporific surrounds is the very place that would lay waste to this magnificently talented woman (the artist died in a fire at her studios in May 1975) and a travesty that the world has lost such a remarkable British talent.

Eager to return to this light infused artist's Mecca, I have already begun mapping out my next pilgrimage, with a possible detour to the nearest local art supplier in the hope that I too shall be inspired to put brush to canvas.

*Footnote :Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

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