The week ended with a return visit by our ‘chimney man’ to change the cowls on the the chimneys, in a hope that this will bring an end to the ingress of water when it’s very windy and wet. I hope this is the solution, because this has been one of our main concerns this year.
In the evening we went to St Ives – to celebrate Tate St Ives’ new gallery spaces, and to visit Porthmeor Open Studios, and then onto Anima Mundi for a show of Tim Shaw’s new work. The Tate was buzzing – a happy event that reminded me of the opening of the Turner Gallery in Margate in 2011.
At Anima Mundi, ‘Something is not quite right’ is the first part of a two-part, two-centre exhibition by the RA sculptor Tim Shaw. Small and beautifully made bronze maquettes point fingers at the establishment, and presage the large figure work that will be installed at the Exchange gallery in Penzance next year. Anima Mundi displays work over three floors, and in the ‘attic’ a disturbing tableau makes every viewer both voyeur and participant. Tim Shaw’s work is unashamedly political, and there is plenty of room for that in the arena of contemporary art today.
Week 51 w/e 20 October
The week began with Hurricane Ophelia on Monday, which, fortunately for us this time, though not for Ireland and Scotland, bypassed Cornwall’s westerly tip. We did have strong gales however, which prompted me to take out video and SLR cameras, to capture something of the power of the weather. I chose Porthgwarra, where I knew the Westerly gales would lash the waves against the shore. The sea was running high, and white with foam, as I’d hoped. Risking a walk to Gwennap Head, I was beaten back by lashing gusts on the cliff top, and couldn’t reach my goal. It was too dangerous to go near to the cliff edge, where the tops of the waves fifty feet below were whipped off by the wind and dumped on the clifftop, and onto my struggling body! After being nearly swept off my feet several times I had to admit defeat, but even returning to the relative safety of the sheltered cliff path was hazardous.
Back in the warmth of my car, I realized my face was crusted with salt, and my trousers soaked through. A thoroughly rewarding experience – but I felt later as if I’d gone 10 rounds in a boxing ring with Mohammed Ali.
The strong winds have tested our new cowls, and found an improvement – though when the wind is directly from the south, our southernmost chimney still admits rain.
The studio and new cloakroom, where Pete is working at the moment, are sheltered from these winds, and we’ve been in there for most of the week. Pete is finishing the skirting and architraves to the cloakroom and I have been working on Painting #5.
Having got that painting to a point of ‘doubt’ I must leave it for a while. On Friday I took delivery of my big canvas for the mentoring show – at 8ft x 4.5 it’s the biggest I’ve worked on as one painting – I’ve never had the room before. With each new canvas I feel like a beginner – each painting is an experiment, and I learn something new. But I would rather it was this way, than knowing exactly what and how I wanted to paint, and simply doing it.
After a miserably cold wet week, Friday was sunny for a while. I walked Bartinney, noting new fencing and huge tractor ruts that made walking a muddy and difficult experience in places. From Bartinney the sea is visible in all directions from Mounts Bay to Geevor. The south-westerly wind was bringing in cloud from the Atlantic, and the waves that lashed the Longships must have been huge because they were clearly visible. At midsummer I’d stayed there a while – but it was not a day for that.
A short while after I’d returned home the weather closed in once more and the gales and heavy rain began again. Just outside our garden under an Ash tree, a pigeon lay, newly dead, beautiful and still warm, but with it’s beak full of foam. I moved it to our garden. ‘Percy’ was buried today. Our children, who remember all our pets, seven of whom were buried with full honours in the garden of our last house, will think this is just the beginning!
At last! The first part of our central heating is installed, and we have a warm house! It feels wonderful to move from room to room and encounter warmth – especially when this week has been so unsettled, the cold winds of winter beginning to bite. Our plumber has still to fix radiators in the other half of the house, where Pete is working, and my studio is. But for the time being we’re grateful for the first stage – we certainly made the right decision at the right time, not knowing when we did, that the weather would turn so quickly!