There is consolation for me in being by the sea; years ago, in a time of loss and sadness I went to a pebbly beach I know and lit a bonfire. As the huge orb of the crimson sun slipped below the horizon the waves came up and gradually extinguished the flames: it was a seemly marking of two lives passed. This week I have been by the lucid water of the Cornish coast, heard the clink of the wind, been comforted by the never-ending swish of the tides in and out, seen friends walking on the pale sand.
This little raft of buttered toast laden with sweet aga-roasted tomatoes was my perfect breakfast at 2 Albany Terrace in St Ives.
We were warmed there by a chubby wood-burner whose dapper construction still shows its ingenious off-the-cuff beginnings. Invented by a surfer in his camper-van and made originally from a calor-gas cylinder and spare VW parts it stands humorously on tubular steel legs, its handles chrome petrol caps and its door a little round port-hole. Its name is HotPod! The whole thing to be recommended.
I can’t think of a more congenial/ convenient/ better way to travel than by the Night Riviera Sleeper – a day’s work, an evening’s jabber, a night’s kip and there I am by the sea ready for the new morning.night’s kip and there I am by the seaggggg
I can’t think of a better way to travel than by the Night Riviera Sleeper – a day’s work, an evening’s jabber, a night’s kip and there I am by the sea ready for the new morning.
The first visit was to the Tate; I found the building itself troublesome and needlessly complicated, but the view from the café windows up top bears no comparisons. It gives us the sky, the ocean, the sand, the hugger mugger town in panorama – the near, the far – a great place to sit and look – and eat crab sandwiches!
The William Scott show there was one reason for my journey. I have recently seen four exhibitions dominated or defined by the restrained palette of black and white – Picasso, Gordon Baldwin, Manet and this one. Yet I was completely captivated by a small Scott canvas called Still Life With White Mug – yes it has black grey and white shapes, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the painting’s background. A rich greeny burnt orange moving through warm tan and chestnut and on into a velvet darkness – an absolute revelation of the life in colour. In contrast I found Barbara Hepworth’s abandoned tools and overalls deeply melancholy and wished some young sculptors were there in her lonely garden workshops chipping away, laughing and swearing and scratching their heads.
And by the side of the road another day an impromptu kitchen was set up in the open boot of the friends’ hatchback – water boiled, coffee brewed, milk warmed on little stoves, buns handed out, ideas exchanged and elevenses enjoyed in the wind by Zennor church.
The church itself is home to rather a lot of decoratively cross-stitched kneelers, many made in celebration of special occasions, and also houses their unique carving of the famous mermaid.
Traditionally mermaids, as latter-day relations of Aphrodite, carried a love-apple or quince in one hand and a comb in the other. By the time this fishy girl was carved the symbol of love had been replaced by a mirror – a symbol of heartless vanity – seems a shame.
Hand-dying and weaving in a little shed set in the hill above Penzance was another friend: Sue Marshall was preparing for Open Studios in the late spring. To me our visit with her was full of the stuff of life – colour, textiles, a hut, a garden, and a freshly-baked cake. Some of that from my point of view was touched on in last weekend’s MySpace article in the Sunday Telegraph…
For more enjoyment of the hand-made The Stroud International Textiles fair is coming later in May – bigger and better than ever. Check out their website – there’s plenty for textile lovers to see, do, learn and enjoy; I’m looking forward to speaking there in some very good company on the 25th May.
Back in London I’m planning to visit the Margaret Street Gallery where Jim Naughton’s photographs of the magnificently clothed Herero tribespeople are on show. The pictures are from a book called ‘Conflict and Costume’. What important message-givers textiles can be.