Cornwall LivingIssue #72

Inside the artist’s mind

Words by Jilly Easterby

Cornish creativity unleashed in curious spaces and beautiful places at Open Studios Cornwall 2018.

Open Studios Cornwall 2018 promises the richest mix yet as more than 320 artists, designers and makers – the county’s creative movers and shakers – invite us into curious spaces and beautiful places to experience their artistic practice.

From Saturday 19th to Monday 28th May, set-designers and sculptors; milliners and magazine editors; painters, printmakers and potters will throw open their studio doors to the general public to stage one of the UK’s most alluring art trails.

From Constantine and Callington to Polzeath and Portlooe, in historic harbours, verdant valleys and glorious gardens, a record-breaking number of participants will unleash their creativity in the 14th year of this popular arts initiative.

“Whether working with glass or graphite, in paint or porcelain, with the lathe or the loom, the sheer variety of disciplines this year will captivate and inspire,” says Director of Creative Skills, Jane Sutherland, who leads the scheme. “Not only does Open Studios provide us with an intimate glimpse of the creative process, it also takes us on a journey to previously unseen corners, enabling us to experience Cornwall from an entirely different perspective.”

What’s more, this year’s event will take in half-term and the Spring Bank Holiday so that even more people will be able to grab a guide, plot their route and marvel at the diversity of colour and pattern; line and form that is to be discovered.

Through their work, artists will also reveal the inner workings of their imaginations, whether they are inspired by the dramatic energy of the Cornish coastline; the frailty of the human condition or the profound power of the natural world.

Set-designer and sculptor, Rebecca McDonald certainly takes inspiration from nature as she works with wool to create engaging creatures in her studio at The Potager Garden in Constantine.

“Creating objects and installations that connect us to the landscape and the life within it is really important to me,” Rebecca explains. “It is that familiarity and sense of place that I want my work to evoke in people’s imaginations – a feeling that you are, somehow, in the company of an old friend.”

Rebecca’s sculptural felted work is just part of her story. From designing installations for shop windows in High Street Kensington to conjuring up urban forests in London’s East End, or creating floating gardens within corporate HQs, like so many of her generation, Rebecca left Cornwall to pursue a successful career, only to return, pulled back by the heartstrings of home.

“Cornwall has always been a major inspiration – not only in terms of its landscape but through its culture and art scene,” says Rebecca. “Witnessing immersive outdoor theatre by Kneehigh and Miracle as a child blew my mind, and showed me an alternative to experiencing art in the formal setting of a gallery or theatre.”

These early experiences inspired Rebecca to study Art and Event Production at Bournemouth Arts Institute, and to become a creative producer for arts and music festivals.

“This provided lots of scope to make and design interiors for venues and stage sets, often with minimal budgets and resources, but it enabled me to get my hands dirty and create installations that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make otherwise. This also gave me confidence and a great testing ground for my ideas as my work had an immediate and often highly exuberant audience!”

From giant origami animal totems for Glastonbury to serve as entrance archways and meeting points to 3D sculptures of foxes, rabbits and bears to bring the pages of a children’s book to life, whatever idea Rebecca has in her head always leads to making something with her hands.

“For me, the creative process is like a long wiggly road but it all links – much like a Cornish country lane,” adds Rebecca.


Art trial

Why not open your mind to Open Studios Cornwall and chart your own course down a Cornish country lane? Who knows what magic you might discover there…

To create your very own art trail, obtain a copy of the Open Studios Cornwall 2018 guide, which is available from hundreds of locations across Cornwall or by ‘phoning Krowji on 01209 313200. Alternatively, you can bookmark on your mobile phone and navigate the studios with the help of Google Maps.

Each venue is clearly indicated by an orange O so watch out for them as you travel around. The guide is divided into West, Mid, North and East Cornwall. Within each section, artists are listed geographically then alphabetically. You can either plan to visit a particular location and look up artists who are exhibiting in that area or visit a particular artist and find out who else is in their neighbourhood.

For more information about the participating artists and their work, follow Open Studios Cornwall on Twitter, like the facebook page or visit the official website.

OPEN STUDIOS CORNWALL OpenStudiosCorn on Twitter, openstudioscornwall on Facebook.


Artists’ Profiles

Just some of the many artists featured at this year’s Open Studios.

Rebecca McDonald, Constantine

Rebecca creates large and small-scale installations and sets. She works in a variety of media from sculpture to drawing to bring her 3D illustrations to life. Visit her in her studio to see where it all begins…

Debbie Rudolph, Falmouth

Debbie produces unique textiles that are full of colour and texture. She employs traditional techniques but her approach is bold and modern. Cornwall provides an endless source of inspiration for her scarves, cushions, tapestries, hangings and throws, which are deftly hand-crafted from cotton, mohair, wool, linen, silk and chenille.

Max William Burrows, Crackington Haven

Drawing directly from life, sound and music, Max seeks to carry an intuitive, primal response through to a finished painting, where the still, fixed work can hold the fluid temporality of a live moment. His dawn chorus paintings find him working outside in the half-light where he is struck as much by the silence before dawn as by the burst of song that follows.

Brickworks, Penryn

Brickworks is an open access ceramic studio that promotes and fosters creativity in clay for all abilities from complete beginners to experienced professionals. Located in the heart of Jubilee Wharf’s creative community, with stunning views down the Penryn River, the collective will be showcasing members’ work and offering drop-in workshops.

Louise Bennett, Newlyn

Whether painting from her home studio, which has an amazing view of Newlyn Harbour and Penzance, or from her vintage horsebox that she has converted into a mobile studio, Louise likes to paint and draw what makes her feel good. She also enjoys the challenge and calm of sitting down and looking because if you sit still for long enough, something magical happens.

louisebennettstudio on Instagram

Sandy Horton, Portlooe/West Looe

Sandy’s interest in glass began with the restoration of a leaded window in her Victorian front door. Broadening her skills through an adult education course and postgraduate study, she now creates unusual art glass inspired by Cornwall.

Experimenting with temperatures, techniques and chemical reactions, Sandy produces one-off pieces for the wall, the garden and jewellery to catch the light.

Jacques Cabin, Treneglos/Launceston

Jacques Cabin’s eye-catching alternative to mass-production furniture is responsibly sourced. Each piece is designed and hand built by Rich Inight from reclaimed timber that is steeped in history and imbued with character. The resulting quirky, patchwork look has minimal impact on the environment and complements the contemporary coastal lifestyle that Cornwall offers.