Out of Cornwall - Present
Cornwall’s natural beauty, especially its seascapes, has captured the minds of souls of artists for years. It is for this reason that we have chosen to hold ‘Out of Cornwall – Present and Past’ exhibiting a selection of paintings by some of our contemporary artists such as Liz Hough, David Pearce, Dooze Storey, Paul Wadsworth and Trudy Montgomery who all live in Cornwall.
Out of Cornwall - Past
Dame Laura Knight (1877 - 1970)
Dame Laura Knight, DBE, RA RWS was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving and drypoint. Knight was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition who embraced English Impressionism. During her long career, Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. In 1929 she was created a Dame and in 1936 became the first woman elected to the Royal Academy since its foundation in 1768. Her large retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy, in 1965, was another first for a woman. Although Knight was known for painting amidst the world of the theatre and ballet in London, and for being a war artist during the Second World War, she was also greatly interested in, and inspired by, more marginalised communities and individuals including Gypsies and circus performers. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.
Sir Terry Frost RA (1915 -2003)
Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, in 1915, Frost did not become an artist until he was in his 30s when a Prisoner of War .During World War II, he served in France and the Middle East, before joining the commandos. Whilst serving with the commandos in Crete in June 1941 he was captured. He was a prisoner at Stalag 383 in Bavaria, and it was here that he met and was taught by Adrian Heath. He said of his prison experience that it was a ‘tremendous spiritual experience, a more aware or heightened perception during starvation’.
During the 1950's a group of painters gathered around the Cornish harbour town of St Ives, among which were some of the leading modern artists of their time. Terry Frost was amongst this group and lived there from 1959-63.
Terry Frost's work reflects his gratitude and 'joie de vivre' at having survived wartime incarceration; it is full of colour, light and the pleasure of existence 'a sense of delight in front of nature'. Frost took his inspiration from nature; the sun, moon, water, boats and the female form are recurring motifs abstracted into sensuous circles and curves. These shapes are often coloured in dramatic blues, reds, oranges, yellows and blacks. Frost believed that the interplay of colour and shape could realise an event or image more successfully than imitation. He combined strict formal discipline with great expressive freedom and a natural sureness of touch.
Fred Yates (1922 - 2008)
An artist much in the vein of L.S. Lowry, Yates took up painting after the war and by 1970 he was living and working as a painter in Cornwall. He painted almost exclusively outdoors - scenes of local village life, clifftop and beach scenes. It was around this period that Yates' commercial success began after the "St Ives 1939-64" exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London. It was also around this time that Yates had a solo exhibition in Geneva which saw some of his work purchased by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Yates has works in private collections in France, UK, Canada and the United States of America.
In the 1990s he moved to France but in 2008 after suffering a fatal heart attack on a visit back to England he was buried in one of his favourite spots in Cornwall overlooking St Michael’s Mount.
Sandra Blow RA (1925 – 2006)
An Abstract painter with an earthy touch, she balanced geometric shapes with a ferment of organic forms. She was always liable to work with collage as one element of her paintings and in early days might stain canvas with tea as one of her colours. Her later work became relaxed and colourful. She first found her direction as a painter in 1947, when the Italian abstract artist Alberto Burri became her lover. Blow had her first experience of St Ives in 1957 where she rented a cottage nearby and in 1994 she moved to St Ives permanently. In 2001-2002 Tate St Ives held a huge exhibition of Blow’s work called Space and Matter.
Her commitment to the checks and balances of painting as pure abstraction was total, and though in later life she sometimes said she wished she had borne children, she regretfully recognised that she could not have managed a double life as artist and mother.