Artist Linda Matthews explains her three great loves since childhood: art, horses and Cornwall.
I meet Linda at her gorgeous cottage with views over the glittering sea at Rinsey. She is petite, attractive and absolutely charming, though she admits: “just a bit nervous.” Inside, her cottage is delightful with some wonderful ceramics and stunning art on the walls, some of which are hers. One is a huge, gorgeous abstract painting. We settle at the table, with a pot of tea, in her lovely kitchen that leads out to a sunny garden and her summerhouse studio at the end.
Linda grew up on a farm in Leicestershire, where her love of horses and art began. “I was always drawing and painting then, aged 14, decided I wanted to be an art teacher.” She went to Derby Art College, then onto teacher training, and straight into teaching. The family would holiday every year in Cornwall and she grew to love the area around Rinsey and Prussia Cove.
Work, horses and art continued then another great love arrived: her daughter, Hannah. Time passed, Linda divorced then sadly her parents died and Hannah moved to London. She tells me, “Then one weekend in November, I suddenly realised that it was my time now and I had to follow my dream and move to Cornwall.” She found her dream cottage online. “My brother and his wife, who lived nearby, went to view it for me, said it was lovely, so I rushed down the following weekend, had one look, and bought it! It’s just perfect and in my favourite place!”
She continued teaching in Cornwall – her last job was teaching ceramics at Truro School. “I loved that job, but it was only as maternity relief – so when the original teacher returned to work I decided to take early retirement and leave on a high.”
We walk down to her studio. It’s perfect; light and warm in the spring sun. There are paintings and photos on the wall. One large canvas is propped up on a table against the wall surrounded by paints and brushes, with other canvases stacked up nearby. She pulls them out to show me, they are full of sea and big skies with lots of shimmering light. She points to the current work in progress. “I like to work with the canvas propped up like this rather than an easel in the centre of the room. It gives me space to step back and really look at what I’m creating. I can have three or four canvases in progress all propped up round the studio so that I see them when I walk in and will often realise what I need to do next – or exactly what is needed to finish a painting.” As she talks she is patting her heart as if the feeling comes from there. “I won’t let a painting go unless I’m happy that it’s finished, that I’ve achieved my aim. If I’m not happy with it then I’ll rework it.” It’s quite obvious that knowing a work is finished for her comes from deep within.
She does some solo exhibitions but will often share the space with her friend Jane and others. “We are so lucky that the Harbour and Dock Company let us have the Old Lifeboat House at such a reasonable price – it’s such a great space for local artists to exhibit. In fact, I love having Porthleven so close – it’s so vibrant and out here is so quiet. My main inspiration is from the sea and the ever-changing weather conditions; this part of the Cornish coast offers amazing subject matter. I am so very lucky!”
And as for her rather unusual email address? “Ah… that was set up for me by a good friend.” Linda giggles. “I’m used to it now… and yes, she’s still a good friend!” I would highly recommend a visit during Cornwall Open Studios. To find out more about the event, read our next issue or visit www.openstudioscornwall.co.uk.