Cornwall LivingIssue #68
Celebrating Cornish art
Arts writer Mercedes Smith showcases three artists at the very forefront of Cornwall’s blossoming art scene.
For those of us in love with the Cornish lifestyle, whether born here, or drawn here from the cities in search of a simpler life, immersion in all things ‘Cornwall’ is the only way to live. Time is your best spent investment here, finding moments for windswept coastal walks and summer weekends on the sand. But what else should you invest in, for the full cultural experience? Well, once you’ve committed to the beach view home, the impressive longboard you may never stand up on, and all the digital devices you need to video conference with clients in far flung London, let me suggest you invest in art. Cornwall stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest art centres in Europe, for both quality and credibility. Investment savvy critics and collectors look here for the most promising new artists in the UK, and so should you. For those of you with a passion for this wonderful part of the world, and its unique culture, take note of our top three most collectable artists in Cornwall for 2018.
“Lindsey’s take on landscape is the refreshing step forward that collectors have been waiting for.”
Artist Alasdair Lindsay has taken the genre of landscape painting in a strikingly original direction, with his unique blend of figuration and abstraction, making him one of Cornwall’s most distinctive and collectable painters. In an arts scene where landscape carries serious cultural currency, Lindsay has managed to rise well above the pack. Trailing behind him a history of landscape painting in Cornwall that began with Turner, and evolved in the mid-20th century as the muse of British Modernism, Lindsay’s take on landscape is the refreshing step forward that collectors have been waiting for. His particular interest in architectural structures along the coast means that his paintings document the beach houses, beach huts and Victorian tidal pools that define our collective, visual experience of Cornwall. Similarly, his ability to paint the purity of Cornwall’s famous light, and the dazzling colours that accompany it, make his work synonymous with every idealised notion of this glorious place. As highly contemporary, highly desirable art objects, Lindsay’s paintings lend themselves to the sort of minimal space you now find in highly contemporary, highly desirable coastal properties. The square format, strong colour, and cut-glass compositions that are typical of his work, sit perfectly in white walled, glass fronted architectural spaces which are designed to bring the outside in. With an Alasdair Lindsay painting on your wall, the interior view is as equally ‘Cornwall’ as that sweeping coastal view beyond your window.
Lindsay’s experience of raising a young family in west Cornwall, and of regularly swimming, surfing and sailing the Cornish coast, means his work has the weight and authenticity of an artist truly engaged with the landscape around him. These are factors, which – beyond the skill and originality of his work – increase the credibility, and therefore investment potential, of his painting. There is also a good deal of sense in buying Lindsay’s work right now, as he celebrates his 20th year in painting with the release of Shorelines, a hardback book of colour plates which illustrates the development of his painting, and profiles the artist’s life, career and inspirations.
The value we continue to place on portraits was reconfirmed last November with the record breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Saviour of the World’, bought for £342 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction. Interestingly, as a painting of Christ, this work is at best a ‘theoretical’ portrait, and of course its value lies not in any likeness of person, but in the expressive beauty of the subject’s facial expression and hand gestures, which speak of gentleness, hope and redemption. Our ability to interpret the meaning of human gesture, and the artist’s ability to capture it on canvas, are ideas explored in the work of Helston based artist Shelly Tregoning. Her paintings are also ‘theoretical’ portraits; images of the human figure in which physical gesture is everything. Her paintings and monoprints of finely drawn figures capture telling physical moments that are meaningful to all of us. Betrayed in the curve of the body, the tilt of the head, or the flex of the hand are the hopes, desires, disillusionments, fears and insecurities that, according to the artist, “stand for an inherent communality between all human beings”.
In an area where landscape and abstraction are the dominant subjects in art, Tregoning is walking a highly original path, meaning that hers is among the most progressive, and most interesting art in Cornwall right now – as evidenced by her recent selection for the UK’s most influential art shows and prizes. Having graduated with a BA in Fine Art from University College Falmouth in 2011, and now resident at west Cornwall’s CAST studios, she has already been selected for the National Open Art Competition, Discerning Eye Exhibition, RWA exhibitions, and twice for the prestigious Threadneedle Prize Exhibition. Her first solo show, at Edinburgh’s Arusha Gallery last November, plugged in to socially relevant conversations regarding digital identity, gender identity and ideas of the 21st century ‘self’, and as any experienced collector will tell you, artworks that have social relevance, in particular those that make perceptive social comment, are likely to be highly valued in the art market, both now and into the future.
The coastal town of St Ives is one of the world’s most famous and respected centres of fine art, and is celebrated, in particular, for its artistic tradition of abstracting the landscape. St Ives and west Cornwall continue to produce world-class abstract artists, and by investing in them, collectors are tapping into a rich seam of creativity that goes back almost a century. One such artist is Liz Hough, whose mixed media works are a masterclass in figuratively inspired abstraction. Making work in the Modern British tradition – a tradition which originated in St Ives in the mid-20th century – Hough is continuing a bloodline of abstract art that is highly valued by collectors all over the world. Her richly coloured images take inspiration from the landscapes in and around her west Cornwall home, and the rugged, unspoilt countryside of rural Italy, where she teaches and paints annually at the Verrocchio Art Centre. Working with acrylics, oils, collage and painted papers, she takes simple shapes and motifs and arranges them into beautiful, balanced compositions. Addressing and interpreting ideas of ‘place’ in this way, she captures the real essence of these beautiful, rural landscapes. Her soft palette, eye for harmonious colour combinations, and rhythmic application of pattern, make these works visually and emotionally appealing. Because of that, and because of their link to St Ives and to British Modernism, Hough’s works are beginning to attract serious attention, with investment pieces now held in both The Bank of China and TSB Collections.
Respected as one of St Ives’ leading abstract artists, Hough studied Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, and went onto complete Post Graduate studies in Painting at The Royal Academy Schools. Her work is exhibited in Cornwall, London, and in Europe, and her achievements include being awarded the Lanseer Scholarship, Leverhulme Trust Scholarship, the Daler Rowney Prize at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and the Creswick Prize for Landscape Painting. She is currently represented by Oliver Contemporary, London, where she exhibits annually.
"Lindsey's take on landscape is the refreshing step forward that collectors have been waiting for."