Cornwall LivingIssue #75
A moment held in gold
When it comes to innovation, Penwith landscape painter Steve Slimm, renowned for his visionary atmospheric work, is never far from the edge.
Steve tells us: “Something always changes through any deliberate act of innovation.” In 2000, for example, he staged an exhibition in Penzance entitled ‘Priceless and Obscure’, with no wall prices and an invitation for the public to take paintings home and pay him what they thought them to be worth. The show proved a real turning point in Steve’s sense of artistic worth.
“It’s shabby chic I’m after, where layers of gold are floated over red and black under-painting. The end result can sometimes be stunning!”
Set on innovation once again, Steve is now defying the Cornish tradition of framing landscapes in white. “Gold is the new white!” he proclaims. “I don’t mean the gaudy commercial frames of the 70s. It’s shabby chic I’m after, where layers of gold are floated over red and black under-painting. The end result can sometimes be stunning!” But, he adds, “not all paintings lend themselves to this approach and some definitely still look better in white.”
Steve goes on to relate how white originally came about through artists’ integrity in making sure a painting could stand alone, without the visual support of a contemporary frame. “Work needed to be strong; it couldn’t rely on its frame to look good,” he explains. “But the problem is that some work actually does look better in something other than white. It can still be strong work, but is enhanced even further by localised colour support from a frame.”
Steve’s paint is made in his studio using finely ground pigment in a suitably stable medium. His assistants leave the final finish to Steve himself, as he insists that each piece be individually treated. As yet, Steve tells us, “I’m unsure how galleries and collectors will receive my ‘golden innovations’”, but he points out that “in the world of the auctioneer, our beloved Cornish white ‘tray’ frames are referred to as ‘holding frames’, which, when sold out of county, are often whipped off and replaced with something more suitable.”
Steve finishes: “Time will tell, but I must admit I don’t like the idea that an artist’s notion of ‘suitable’ can be so different to a buyer’s. But then again, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there’s no accounting for taste!”
Steve’s ‘moments held in gold’ can be seen in his studio near Praa Sands by appointment, and in Market House Gallery in Marazion.
"It’s shabby chic I’m after, where layers of gold are floated over red and black under-painting. The end result can sometimes be stunning!"