Saturday, March 22, 2003

Here I am in the arcadian paradise of Tresco which is 20 miles off the coast of the most southernly tip of England.
To borrow from Derek Jarman this really is "The Last of England".

Annie Metcalfe, Annie Henry, Mat McIvor


4-6 New Road, Newlyn, Cornwall

The Palm is a newish restaurant in Newlyn and shows a changing selection of work by local artists. As the proprietor David Costin said, there aren’t that many places for artists to show work locally as the galleries will only show the big names. As a London artist I have often Patronisingly thought how wonderful it must be in the provinces with all those cool little galleries (such as The Newlyn Gallery) but I now see you have to be either locally famous or interestingly foreign to get your work shown.

The Palm is currently showing work by three artists; Annie Metcalfe (who lives over the road) has been given the wine bar. She paints semi-figurative seascapes and cites her interest as “the intangible area of the point where land meets sea and that momentary experience which occurs at the point of impact”. Her reoccurring motifs are the flotsam and jetsam of the fishing industry, with a series of small square canvases showing cropped images of fishing net floats on the seashore, lusciously painted in bright, fresh colours. In the main area of the restaurant are a series of small bronze sculptures of the human figure by Annie Henry ( Although much smaller they reminded me of some of Anthony Gormley’s work and have an inviting tactile quality to them. Also in the restaurant are a large number of brightly coloured, smoothly painted landscapes by Mat McIvor. Some of these melted into abstraction with structural honeycombs inspired by the Eden Project’s futuristic domes whilst others featured silhouetted skylines reminiscent of Jan Pienkowski’s (’s illustrations, beneath highly coloured stripy skies.

Overall the whole thing became greater than the sum of its parts and the freshness and commitment of the area’s art was what I came away with. David Costin should be commended for his vision in giving over his restaurant to these artists as well as of course the fantastic food on offer


I should probably mention that I am on holiday in Cornwall (well the Scilly Isles at the moment to be more precise). So the next (and the previous) group of reviews and pictures will be coming from here.

Morrab Road, Penzance Cornwall

20th March 2003

This gallery is home to the historic collections of Penzance and Penwith district councils and features the largest art collection in West Cornwall with a focus on the paintings from the 'Newlyn School'.

I started off my visit in the traditional way with tea and cakes at the cafe (very good) and a look around the shop (lots of local information and books) before deciding to part with my £2 entrance fee. There were 2 special exhibitions on as well as a selection of paintings from the permanent collection.

The first show was "Copperwork in Cornwall" it was very bright and coppery and gaudy and I suppose beautifully crafted but a bit too much like stuff that hangs up in a pub. In fact I am going to go as far as to say that I hated it! Anyway I was always more interested in the paintings and the other show - "Flash Harry: Photographs by Harry Penhaul" - which sounded much more interesting. In the opening self portrait Flash Harry looks a little like a second world war spiv in the mould of Walker from Dad's Army, a nice guy but a little bit dodgy. He was born in 1914, died young (aged 43) and took some good pictures of local people and events. Characters on show included a strange looking man with a big moustache and a farmer on a tractor drinking from a watering can - all black and white and gritty, like people from a Thomas Hardy novel (I know my timing is a little out but they were the same basic characters unchanged by half a century) Other photographs had happy, skinny kids and smiling country folk and could have been subtitled 'We're all pulling together and much happier than you are now'. "Diverting" I wrote in my notebook.

The final section of the gallery is devoted to the permanent collection. I've seen some of it before and there are some works I really like. Elizabeth Forbes "A Zandvorf Fishgirl" is a very appealing portrait of a young girl holding a basket of fish, downbeat and melancholy in a Gwen John kind of way, all muted blues and greens. "The Fishgirl" is sentimental in that gauche way that Victorians loved but is now soo taboo and I love it.
I also liked Stanhope Forbes' "Regatta Day", T.C Gotch's "Girl In A Cornish Garden" and best of all Harold Harvey's "The Donkey Meadow".

If you find yourself in Penzance check it out.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Painting Year Zero @
Keith Talent Gallery, Tudor Road, London E9

I like this gallery because its in the same street as my studio and because it seems to have a painting focus.

This show is about... painting - see title. The painting is abstract, featuring macho geometric shapes or maybe I just think this because all five participants are male. Notable works include those by Robert Holyhead whose paintings are very neat and very bright, one is called "Painting with white lines that do not cross" which is a pretty acurate description. Others by Danny Rolph feature psychedelic colours and layers of "twinwall plastic" - these have names which I can not decipher - "Heisterkamp" and "C.S".

Overall the show was diverting but I have to admit that abstract painting is not really my bag.