11 June 2012

open studios cornwall 2012

on saturday afternoon i went to explore some open studios. i love open studios and am thinking about throwing my doors wide next year. it was disappointing that there weren't more in falmouth and penryn. i'm not sure why this is as there are so many artists in these areas. in bristol the studio trails are amazing. there are so many that each individual area has its own event and in some places there are many houses on the same street which means it can all be done on foot. i know bristol is bigger but i heard on the radio someone saying that cornwall has the largest concentration of artists for its area outside london (i hope i've got that right). and i know so many artists in falmouth and penryn so i'm guessing it must be the money. i think in bristol it's around £20-£25 to participate but here it's £100! that just doesn't make any sense to me. i know there are costs involved but surely not £20,000! (there are about 200 artists this year and it's sponsored by mylor yacht harbour too). so it seems a shame if it's the money situation that's preventing a truly vibrant event from blossoming here.

anyway, puzzlement aside, i saw some wonderful work, met some great people and was very inspired. i've just picked some of my favourites to tell you about here.

first off i visited  sarah mccartney just along the road from me. her studio is in her garage and it was over-whelmingly fantastic (so much so that i went back again the next day for another look!) it was full of everything that i love- verdigris copper, bits of driftwood, an amazing collection of found and natural objects and that's before even looking at her work. at the back were two glass cabinets with beautiful specimens including fragments of lobster shells, crabs, skeleton birds, dried frogs and a pair of tiny wings from a gold crest (i think). trays along the front contained shells, old copper nails, sea tumbled glass and a whole array of aesthetically beautiful objects.

her work is exquisite with insects, images, gold leaf and words encased in resin and framed within the found wood, copper and tin. i definitely recommend a look at her  blog for a full insight into her work as there is drawing, painting, sculpture, illustration, work in progress and it's all very inspiring.

why i am awake by sarah mccartney

don't lose it by sarah mccartney

evolve by sarah mccartney


after a couple of others in falmouth a friend and i headed to krowji in redruth, a converted grammar school with about forty artists' studios.

christine spencer-green's magical dream-like paintings caught my eye, a few of which had her green-eyed black cat sabrina emerging enigmatically from the canvas. she told me that she'd always had pure bred siamese cats in the past but that sabrina is special because her mother is siamese but her father is a black fisherman's cat which means that sabrina  is an unusual black siamese witch's cat! 

sabrina and me by christine spencer-green
painting by christine spencer-green

esther connon is an illustrator and printmaker and looking through her hand bound limited edition book 'florence flies away' was an absolute treat. the book itself is such a wonderful and beautifully crafted object housing a wordless illustrated story. her screen prints are finely executed on gorgeous paper and her latest book, 'the seed' had totally sold out.

from the book 'florence flies away' by esther connon
'the seed' - opening sequence by esther connon
'the seed' - rain sequence by esther connon

in 'the white butterfly' a "butterfly brings peace to an old man's final days. this story is based on the japanese legend that believes the butterfly to be the soul of loved ones that have passed away".
 'the white butterfly' by esther connon

and i love this delicate drawing from 'lily and the lion'

'lily and the lion' by esther connon

wandering along the corridor i came upon siobhan purdy with her dreamy intuitive paintings beckoning me forth. she was great to chat to and for me her paintings summed up the magical quality of cornwall. she is mainly self-taught and i love the way that her paintings are so genuinely her.

farmer's wife by siobhan purdy
misty morning by siobhan purdy
and finally before closing there was just enough time to have a quick peek at tom raffield's ingenious steam bent lamp shades and furniture in ash and oak. i always find steam bending fascinating. it's amazing how the form of a material so hard and deliberate can be re-sculpted with such ease and look so natural in it's final shape with the grain obediently following the new curves.

my kitchen has been converted from an old 1930's green house so the window sills all remain sloping so that plants could make the most of the light. i realised that one of tom's lovely coiled pots would be  a great solution as they stand at an angle and are therefore perfect for wonky shelves!

flower pots by tom raffield

gracing a sloping shelf at home


  1. Thank you for your beautiful response to my work Jo - it was a pleasure having you in my studio exloring and to see that you obviously love and are facinated with the same things as me

  2. Hi jo
    I agree it was really great going around the open studios.As I live near Krowji I paid several visits. I only managed to get to three in falmouth but were of very good quality. I too like Sarah McCartneys work, I had a look at her illustration work, brilliant.

    Lloyd lbphotographics@fastmail.co.uk

    1. Hi,I am surprised and delighted to find your reflections on two of my paintings in your review on 2012 open studios thank you so much it means a lot to me. Christine Spencer-Green :)