My Connection to Cornwall - never far from the sea
I’m Cornish born and bred, as are my parents before me. I grew up in a small village a couple of miles from Falmouth, too far away to hear the sea perhaps but certainly close enough for it to play a huge part in my life. I’m neither a fisherman, sailor or even much of a swimmer but that doesn’t stop the feeling of connection to the rolling waves and rugged shores that I think every Cornishman shares. And to be honest, I never thought I’d leave.
I decided to study 3D design at Falmouth College of Arts but ironically, it was here that I picked up my first 35mm camera and my future became ‘focussed’ on the 2D art of photography. After an HND and a degree, I was ready to earn my living through the lens but opportunities for a portrait photographer in Cornwall were few. I was a ‘home boy’, I loved where I lived and I had no desire to leave, so it was with a very heavy heart and great reluctance I followed a job to South Oxfordshire. 6 months turned into 23 years and this part of the world is still my home today - it has a rural beauty of its own but it’s almost as far from the sea as you can get.
When you live near the sea, you take it for granted. As a child, bike rides were always to and from the coast, family walks on a Sunday afternoon are along cliff paths and as a teenager, we’d get the boat to St Mawes for beers with friends. I love the spectacular, powerful beauty of the North Cornish coast and the gentle, more tranquil coves of the South. Now, when we make the four-hour journey ‘home’, we always stay as close to the waves as we can and always sleep with the windows open.
When I took up printmaking, I had not anticipated that it would reconnect me with my Cornish roots - but that’s exactly what has happened. My first lino prints weren’t of coastal scenes but as time went on, I started carving what I loved and knew best. My first print influenced by my homeland features a cat, staring out of a window overlooking a harbour, waiting patiently for the fisherman to come home for his traditional pasty lunch (his wife, relieved to see his boat sail into view, has already eaten her share!). Soon, I was drawing on memories from my past and revisiting much loved Cornish scenes in my mind, creating prints which I hoped would celebrate the beauty and heritage of this stunning location.
Lino printing is a ‘considered’ but somewhat naive discipline, simple in both materials and style. It certainly helps that old fashioned Cornish Ware, with its contrasting blue and white stripes, is suited to this medium, as are the pebbles on the beach and the sea itself. Crashing waves or quiet coves, the Cornish coastline doesn’t need to work hard to impress - it’s honest and raw and I hope that by using simple, traditional techniques I can evoke a sense of this wonderful place that means so much to me.