Art and Photographic History Penwith politics West Cornwall (and local history)

Cornwall Reconstructs?

Many years ago my French Master, somewhat radically inclined, offered to teach me Chinese. The condition was that I had first to ensure my French was up to scratch. Unfortunately I was scarcely up to the mark with the language but have in recent years got as far as reading a very easy version of Flaubert with an immense amount of pleasure. I did however have at least one lesson of Chinese and can still recall one or two phrases about writing a character on a blackboard. I also recall seeing on my schoolmasters desk a few copies of a magazine called “China Reconstructs”.

In a very different study overlooking St Ives harbour and bay, I saw a copy of the same journal. This was the study of a friend’s father who had been a brave member of the Chinese Inland Mission. One of the achievements of this famous organisation was to encourage the unbinding of women’s feet. A task interrupted by the Japanese invasion. There was a magnificent cat wandering around the house called “La Fu” and meals at my friends were frequently taken using chop sticks.

Large parts of Cornwall have unfortunately been subject to neglect and decline. A situation which appears to have got still worse under the Tories and due to Brexit. Much reconstruction of public services is urgently needed to avoid further poverty, ill-health and decline. The view below shows another side to Cornwall but unfortunately is all too common.

Art and Photographic History Literature Poetry

Poetry from the Isle of Lewis

This is by my friend Ursula Ghee Wieckowska, who lives on the Island of Lewis not far from Stornaway

Snow Hills

March is turning out to be the month of
Blue skies sun and brilliant snow
Not overwhelming snow
Pawprints made by the cats
Prints by the chickens crows and ducks
Then this morning all the prints were gone
It must have snowed in the night
Glistening crystals of snow now
Covering the ground smooth and white
By tonight the garden will be covered in prints again

Then over to the east the hills
Beautiful white covered in snow
The sun shining on them
Showing off their features
From a distance we see
The individual hills
Stac Polly Cul Beag
Cul Mor Sulliven
Different shapes
Different personalities
They only appear on some days
This week we have been blessed
Everyday against the blue sky
They stand on the horizon
They stand on the sea

In the town the roads are wet
The traffic has melted the snow
And the black tarmac appears
Some snow is just lying
On the verges and roofs and
In between the trees

I head home and will look at the snow
Through the car windows
Then through my house windows
As long as the sun shines
Then it will disappear into the dark
To come again hopefully tomorrow
When I open the curtains in the morning
I will once again be blinded by the
Sun on the white snow

Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Psychoanalysis

Three news articles that caught my eye

The London Review of Books editions that arrive every two weeks seem to vary in their interest value. The most recent edition, however, grabbed my interest in a short article on the life of the German Expressionist, George Grosz. Then I went on to read about the amazing Adolfo Kaminsky, the brave photographer and forger on behalf of radical causes. Two good articles and it puts you in the mood to read the rest before the next explosion of magazines arrive with more information having to be processed. (LRB Volume 45 Number 4 -16th Februrary 2023)

Thomas Meaney has visited the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart and his review of Grosz is particularly interesting from a psychological viewpoint with informative quotations from Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt; the former claiming that Grosz’s caricatures were not satire but reportage. His transition to America in 1933 marked a point at which he seems to have attempted to subdue, what he considered, his former arrogance and nihilistic tendencies. Yet he seemed out of sympathy with American society, its cultural interests and the false persona he felt he had to adopt in his teaching of drawing. By 1954 he appears to be in some sort of deep decline. Meaney quotes the Dadaist and friend Schlicter –

Rarely have I seen a person with such self-destructive rage…..It is a depressing spectacle to see a man whom one once cherished go to the dogs in this way.”

Returning to Berlin where he died in 1958 seems to have exacerbated matters still keenly aware of past issues unresolved.

Secondly, last week there was a dearth of anything but Tory supporting newspapers at Sainsbury’s so I decided to buy the Morning Star. I came across an interview by Chris Searle with the veteran Bassist Dave Green. He and his friend, Evan Parker have just issued a new CD called Raise Four.

The clip above is almost 20 years old but in this recent interview, Green highlights his favourite artists; Roland Kirk, Coleman Hawkins and among British Jazz musicians, Bruce Turner. Green has been a dedicated anti-racist and an ardent believer in constant experimental freedom to develop his craft.

The third article to engage my attention, in this case by the vivid illustrations, was in Saturday’s Guardian and may be found at

This article is a review of the Women’s Abstract Exhibition (1940-1970) to be found at the Whitechapel Gallery until 7th May. I particularly was taken by the dark variegated shades of Li Fang’s work of 1969.

Art and Photographic History Penwith West Cornwall (and local history)

Doctors, Preachers and Arty Types

I am staring through an orange film. It’s the coloured layer around the Lucozade bottle which attends my high temperature. For reasons no longer clear to me I am in my parent’s bed listening to seagulls overhead. My mother is anxiously awaiting Dr M’s arrival on the ground floor where she has been making up Brussel sprout bags. Dr M is the son of the even more highly regarded “old Doctor M” and the chief G.P. of the practice in the Market Place just around the corner from my Grandfather’s shoe mender’s shop- opposite the church in St Ives. The downstairs in the practice there is crowded in the summer with lobster coloured visitors suffering from painful sunburn.

Then there was dear Doc B. Gentle by nature and with a reassuring voice. He was the preferred doctor from my mother’s viewpoint and mine too. In those days the result of the home visit always seemed to be the deep red sugary liquid or lobelline. In more severe cases with itchy rashes and high temperatures it was likely to be M and B. Dear DrB was one of two doctors who had served in the Navy during the War. Thus should the maroon go off and the Lifeboat go out, there would usually be one of these ex-navy doctors on board.

There was a general feeling that any illness was due to the moral failure of the afflicted. It was expressed though as “I told you not to go out in that wind with your duffle coat not properly done up”. In adolescence after overindulgence it would be expressed as- “I told ee you can’t afford to play ducks and drakes with your health”. Or even – “No wonder you have ended up like that and I haven’t seen you take out one of your books to study properly since Christmas”.

Unfortunately I cannot tell you more about the admirable Doctor B as I got to become close friends of his son and his family. They all intrigue me still and their love of sailing, their faith and their company on New Year’s Eve and forbearance for my attempts at Scottish Dancing. I am touched when I recall Dr B insisting in paying me in guineas for helping tutor his son with his A-level Physics. The memory now reminds me of the early parts of “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis”- the tennis and the sunshine.

Then there was DrS – a very different kettle of fish. Seemingly rather austere , quite tall with a head of curly hair that resembled the that of the distant Shakespeare academic Frank Halliday, he tootled through the already numerous crowds on his home visits. Rather taciturn, whilst not greatly welcomed to my childhood bedside visits was of greater support during adolesence. I remember seeing him in bookshops reading advanced ideas of art and French Existentialism. Indeed he was fascinated by living amongst a community of writers and artists.

Those younger doctors were at that time, the only persons in the community to afford cine cameras. These were used to record everything from the incident where the crew of HMS Wave were rescued by breeches buoy to family outings past Seal Island. DrS spent time both conducting audio recordings of important historical events and producing high quality photographs of members of the various art societies in that productive post-war period.

I shall discuss a little more of my personal impressions of preachers and artists in forthcoming posts

More interviews can be found at

Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews

A Glipse at the Work of Bruce Barnden (1925–2009)

I recently happened upon these rather homely images of the English countryside, colourful and imaginative. They seem in the same vein as John Nash and perhaps Stanley Spencer. The falling leaves in front of the Mill House, the stream and the pathway adds a certain timeless quality, slightly abstract and yet impressively lyrical. You can read more about this charming painter’s background at

Mill near Midhurst

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

Here the scene has become wintry and dominated with delectable petrol blue shades

Abstract Leaves

Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews German Matters West Cornwall (and local history)

Capturing Images of Apple Harvest

Fruit crop – Ludwig von Hofmann

I have been contemplating this painting from the mythical world of this not well known German painter who lived (17 August 1861 – 23 August 1945) As Wikipedia informs us “In 1889, he attended the Académie Julian in Paris, where he came under the influence of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul-Albert Besnard.” Certainly the Art Nouveau and Symbolist styles are present but the general impression of this work is one of tranquil gathering from fruitful nature. After a summer of disturbingly high temperatures and draught it seems a pleasant reminder of what seems a different age. End of summer and Arcadia can exist and as I have recently discovered in the rich orchards of Trengwainton still in existence.

As I have been reading recently about Stanley Spencer and the aftermath of the First World War, I came across the following painting as a comparison. Von Hoffmann’s painting is dated 1906, and according to Boyd Hacock’s “A Crisis of Brilliance“, Spencer’s Apple Gatherers is dated 1912.

To anyone familiar with Spencer, the chunky figures have a certain primitive attractiveness- a robust Bob the Builder robust quality. The abundance and timelessness is achieved by the composition. The sketches upon which it is based shows the time and thought which went into the work. The plenitude of fruit and the couple linking arms around the apple suggest some kind of Eden restored.

In this part of Cornwall we have a special feast referred to as Allan Appletide

Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews politics Uncategorized

Today’s Crisis of Brilliance in Ukraine

During this peculiar August weather, I have been reading David Boyd Hancock’s remarkable account of young British Artists and the Great War. Firstly, the account has introduced me to the Slade Artists whose work I was fortunate to see a few year’s ago in the Dulwich Art Gallery. So I have become acquainted with the critical instructor Henry Tonks whose sarcasm of student’s drawing was interlaced with great conviction about fostering the development of fine talents. I have learned much about the deep courage of Stanley Spencer, the lyrical regard of Paul Nash and his brother for the countryside, and of how Nevinson subverted Futurism to convey the mechanical dreadfulness of modern warfare.

Secondly, Boyd Haycock is excellent on the personal relationships affecting the development and interaction between the painters. The upbringing of Mark Gertler and his passion for the wayward and difficult Dora Carrington, I found fascinating as the figures of Bloomsbury enter the scene: Strachey, Fry and of course, Ottoline Morrell. Rupert Brooke and D.H.Lawrence are included too and the various links with art dealers, sponsors and critics completely convey the vivid and sometimes lurid time.

Thirdly, the response of these sensitive souls to the destruction so suddenly released in 1914 is powerfully conveyed. Minds as well as bodies are for ever traumatised and the pictures generated under fire have enormous power. Reading about the stalemate which ensued and the trench warfare, the horrors suffered under artillery bombardment and perhaps especially, the unnatural distortion of countryside inevitably bring contemporary issues to mind.

One interesting exhibition which has displayed the artwork in relation to the Ukrainian conflict has taken place in Brussels and is the subject of an engaging article from The Guardian- Making sense of the senseless: Ukrainian war-art exhibition arrives in Brussels and may be viewed at

Another which well repays viewing and includes outstanding sketches by George Butler may be seen on this BBC website and shows extensive video clips with further artists at

Finally, there is this academic discussion relating Ukranian artist’s work with issues of Russian colonialism from Columbia University. It also includes Music and Film.

Art and Photographic History Literature Poetry

Regarding “True Voice” for J.S. by Aviva Dautch


Friday afternoon in Streatham. Sunlight in

winter, a weight of snow above us

on the glass conservatory roof. We should

have been cooking but instead we tuned in

the new LG TV with its True Voice advanced technology.

The channel didn’t matter, what we cared about was clarity

and pitch, the digital dialling down

of background noise, homing in on the frequency

of the newsreader’s voice: far off famine

wars, a politician sacked, another

celebrity whose phone was hacked. We sat

in the sweet spot, the speakers concentrating



I tend to collect books of poetry and poetry magazines and came across the above poem which I have not copied in full in the Poetry Review Volume 101:2 Summer 2011 This edition was subtitled The New Political Poetry and inside Dautch has written a letter to Emily Dickinson in which she writes about the Talmudic tradition in which contradictory truths are allowed to co-exist. and also about doubt in contradistinction, she says to a Western Tradition that emphasises single truths or epiphanies. This seems apparent too in the first section of the poem -or perhaps prose poem quoted above.

As is widely known Friday evenings in Jewish families constitute the advent of Shabbat and the poem has a certain cosiness, one might say Gemutlich quality about it. Yet also there exists a troubled contrast between the technical sound quality and the dreadful news on the radio which has been arbitrarily chosen. In the remainder of the poem, there is a concern shown about the intensity of the experience becoming overwhelming.

All that evening, as we transformed secular time into Shabbat, everything seemed heightened: the candles, bread, wine, vibrating; each molecule its own distinct, sacred, world.

There are several ways of looking at this feeling. Psychologically Melanie Klein might refer to feelings of envy overwhelming what on a deep level might represent the maternal perfect breast. This state also reminds me of certain lines from the beautiful hymn by W.Chalmers Smith (1824-1908) Immortal, Invisible, God only wise

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light.

Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;

All laud we would render:O help us to see

Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

and in the next verse-

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

In light inaccesssible hid from our eyes

…..and in this poem, of course, our ears as well although the background sound of snow shuffling down the roof paradoxically helps the evening feel complete. Reading Col Toibin’s book Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know just yesterday on W.B.Yeat’s artist’s father and the concept of the gaze, I came across the former’s well known poem about the Second Coming-

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun…

In any event Aviva Dautch is worthy of future consideration and here is a discussion on displacement, migration and exile in which she takes part:-

Art and Photographic History Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Day 3. Land’s End, Porthcurno & St. Ives, Cornwall — Love Travelling Blog

It was a bright and sunny morning as we pulled back the curtains in our hotel room and after tucking into some tasty bacon sandwiches we were back in the car for another day of sightseeing.  Our starting point was to be Land’s End, the headland that sits at the most westerly point of England […]

Day 3. Land’s End, Porthcurno & St. Ives, Cornwall — Love Travelling Blog
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Frames and thoughts about Frames

Orphic wind, you blow far and wide;

You will enter the realms of the sea;

As I cherished a world not yet made

I relinquished the useless “I”

From Poem 25 in Osip Mandelstam’s Stone

This shopping precinct seems full of empty shops. It feels as though the local economy has not recovered from Covid and this environment has taken on the strangeness of the new normal. This in turn raises questions about the whole construct of “normality” and how normal the old normal really was. The empty frame, one might ask oneself; is it really empty? The frame itself can become a tool to investigate the reality on which attention is focussed.

In social philosophy there is a particular frame theory which is referred to by Goffman. There is a useful discussion of this at In this there is a useful quotation from Lakoff-

      “Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. In politics, our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change

Furthermore from Fairhurst and Sarr-

      “Just like a photographer, when we select a frame for a subject, we choose which aspect or portion of the subject we will focus on and which we will exclude. When we choose to highlight some aspect of our subject over others, we make it more noticeable, more meaningful, and more memorable to others. Our framing adds color or accentuates the subject in unique ways. For this reason, frames determine whether people notice problems, how they understand and remember problems, and how they evaluate and act upon them (Entman, 1993).

      Frames exert their power not only through what they highlight, but also through what they leave out. In framing, when we create a bias towards one interpretation of our subject, we exclude other aspects, including those that may produce opposite or alternative interpretations.”

The frame might be the area of domestic politics which when focussed upon excessively means that political discourse becomes isolated. This has been the case in the U.K. where foreign affairs has suffered much neglect. Statesmen with detailed understanding of policy seem few. Consequently issues nearby are outside the frame. The events leading up to the invasion of 🇺🇦 Ukraine 🇺🇦 are now the return of the repressed.

The doleful and economically depressed scenario locally has a dreamlike quality at times somewhat reminiscent of paintings by de Chirico or Rene Magritte. Outside the frame there are grander landscapes.