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

Paintings of Refugees by Maurice Minkowski(1881-1930) and Frances Hodgkins(1869-1947)

The paintings of Jewish refugees from Odessa and Bialystock by Maurycy Minkowski around 1910 are haunting, heartbreaking and evocative. Yet both in their colourful lyricism and moving composition they are a reminder that the refugee crisis is by no means a new phenomena; they are also pointers to some sort of categorical imperative that it requires urgent action still today. These are art works which demand that the fight for peaceful refuge and against racism is taken seriously now and once again.

Translating from the IWO in Buenos Aires, where it states:-

He was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Warsaw in 1881. At five years old he was deaf as a result of an accident. Having shown artistic vocation, he studied art at the Art Academy of Krakow where he graduated with honors. In his early years he painted portraits of local personalities and impressionistic landscapes.
His experience Pogrom of Bialystok (1905) was decisive in the course of his life: he abandoned his specialty as a landscape and portrait painter to devote himself almost exclusively to painting scenes of religious and secular Jewish life in Eastern Europe. 
Minkowski rejected the new artistic movements of the early twentieth century to put his painting in the service of a style that could be defined as “ethnographic” and became the portraitist of anonymous Jews, refugees, and the impoverished masses. 
His large canvases showing the victims of the pogroms attracted the attention of the European public, and despite the barriers imposed their origin and communication difficulties, his paintings were exhibited in Antwerp, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Paris and other cultural centers in Europe .mm1
in addition to painting many scenes of the suffering of the Jews in Russia and Poland in the early twentieth century, Minkowski devoted much of his work to exalt the role of women in Judaism,
At http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/suplementos/las12/13-2747-2006-07-06.html we read that of  his work  in Buenos Aires, where this deaf and dumb painter, the critics Silvia Bronstein Wilkis and Zachary M. Baker wrote:-
“Soon Minkowski will present to the Argentine public in his simple and beautiful  work. Undoubtedly and without prejudice, the heart will appreciate a work that only the heart has dictated, ” Julio E. Payró.wrote from Belgium in the newspaper La Nacion, in June 1926, “No violence, no scene of lethal fire, brutal invasion, but the memory and the threat of pogrom weigh in the atmosphere of the work of Minkowski (…) Thus, in his immense tenderness, the artist’s gesture Leasehold the horizon of Poland and embraces all suffering humanity, “said the Belgian art critic in another part of his article.”mm2
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Frances Hodgkins (see these two above images of Belgian Refugee children painted in St Ives in 1916) was a significant New Zealand painter of whom David Tovey has written in his interesting book Sea Change Fine and Decorative Art in St Ives 1914-1930. During World War I she spent some time in Zennor, Cornwall, where she worked with the Swansea painter, Cedric Morris, who painted her portrait in 1917.She herself began to paint in oils in 1915.
As the website at the New Zealand Museum, http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/935 states:- “The outbreak of World War One forced Hodgkins to move from Paris to St Ives, a small fishing village in Cornwall, England. Here she found it difficult to travel or earn money and endured considerable hardship. However, it also meant that she had time to paint, and she experimented with larger works, using oil and tempera as an alternative to watercolours. Her works from this time show the influence of Post-Impressionism. “
Tovey points out that under the proactive approach of Gussie Lindner that St Ives took in some 99 refugees from Belgium of whom something like 62 remained in 1915. The large oil which is in the Christchurch,NZ gallery, the upper of these two above was called “Unshatterable” and was exhibited at the International Exhibition in 1916. He quotes from curator Ken Hall at Christchurch who mentions how in this painting the grey swirling area in the top left represents the absent father. Moffat Lindner felt these paintings showed considerable talent and he was to provide for her and encorage her in various ways. More information on Lindner who was a key figure in the St Ives Society of Artists may be found at http://cornwallartists.org/cornwall-artists/moffatt-lindner
 In 1915 St Ives was a small town but played its part in taking in those in dire need-surely now we can maintain this enlightened tradition particularly for those who are victims of the devastating weaponry and ferocious assault.
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Categories
Art Exhibition Reviews Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

St Ives in Mid-October

The town is at last fairly free of tourists and today the St Ives Archive Centre-situated presently in Carbis Bay- is presenting an exhibition of St Ives in the 1970s. Actually the photographic display ( of Sam Bennets) goes back a good deal earlier to Doble’s Wall, sailing ships and coaches (which used to be called charabancs)jammed together in narrow streets. The awkward relation between traffic and pedestrians being one constant through the years. The Archive Centre next year is concentrating on the Torrey Canyon and the promenade Fire,{http://www.stivesarchive.co.uk/}

St Ives Archive at the Western Hotel (19/10/16)
St Ives Archive at the Western Hotel (19/10/16)

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View from Norway Square
View from Norway Square

The promenade is still warm enough to eat outside so that Kaffekultur survives despite the horrors of Brexit with a great view of Jumbos and other older craft inside the harbour. Polish, German and other newspapers are available from the tiny newsagents opposite the lodge. The atmosphere is more relaxed and it is much easier to move around the town without the impediment of advertising boards and hawkers. The only guy playing a guitar in Fore Street providing a suitably melancholy, but not too plangent  melody.

St Ives "Jumbo" vessels http://www.stivesjumbo.com/
St Ives “Jumbo” vessels http://www.stivesjumbo.com/

In the Penwith Gallery( http://www.penwithgallery.com/current-exhibition/) the Autumn Exhibition looks more colourful than ever and the sculpture and the ceramics are eye-catching too. This gallery deserves to be better known. In addition there is a section which is entitled Resurgence by Sue Davis and Anthony Fagin which is both inspiring and vivid. The press release states,” The exhibition takes as its central theme the regenerative power of the environment to recover from global despoliation whether from natural processes or human overexploitation. However it also reminds us – although not in any figurative sense – that while we may inhabit a world of ineffable beauty and bounteous resources, there is nevertheless a tipping point beyond which global recovery from continuing abuse will be impossible. Notwithstanding the gravity of their message, the approach of both artists to their work is positive and life affirming” (http://www.anthonyfagin.co.uk/publications/PRESS_RELEASE_resurgence.pdf)si2

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

Wilhelmina and Stanley in St Ives

The current exhibition in the Penlee Museum in Penzance lasts until 19th November and is certainly worth seeing for many reasons: its variety of styles, the contrasts between her life in Scotland and St Ives, the photographs, her green transparent glaciers and the more abstract endeavours of her later years. There are paintings which are reminiscent of Christopher Wood, bright touches that are reminiscent of Cezanne and the harmonies of Paul Klee can be glimpsed in the waves and beach scenes. wbg6

The view above was painted in 1940 http://www.barns-grahamtrust.org.uk/ -and features the Catholic Church on the left as well as the Church of St Ia almost in the middle. The buildings are vertically elongated which gives them an interesting attenuated quality, The grass of the Island and the roof tiles appear in orange against the predominate blue of the sea. The tide is half way in and the crane on the West Pier is just about visible.

Just a few years before, in early summer 1937, much the same scene was painted by Sir Stanley Spencer. It is interesting to compare the resulting works.stan2

The foreground in Spencer’s painting show palm trees and in general the perspective is given a detailed treatment. There is a large boat alongside the pier. The West Pier is shown in full from this angle and the Island and Downalong shown in considerable detail. The tide level is just a little further inshore. The Mariner’s Church and slipway are both clearly delineated. Spencer became a member of the St Ives Society of Artists. He painted other pictures of the town including this atmospheric painting evidently from the promenade.stan3

Here too is a painting showing the coluration of the rocks and fishing boats equipped with sails along with the coast beyond Hayle in the background. Perhaps painted from the rocks on the town side of Porthgwidden. The lighthouse at Godrevy as made famous by Virginia Woolf in 1927.ssfishing-boats-st-ives-1937

Barns- Graham excels in her sketches which are often interesting in their composition and dabs of spare but effective colour. The palette of yellow against grey below shows this in a view crested by The Island.

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

Summer in West Penwith in Black and White

Inspired by this Youtube clip of Berlin taken in 2015 in black and white, I decided to take a look at some, mostly “street” photographs I have taken  out and about in Penzance, Newlyn and St Ives this Summer.

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There are two analogue photography websites i would like to recommend:-

www.ishootfilm.de

and for the forthcoming Newlyn Arts Festival

http://www.homemadeproject.net

the latter will be at the Newlyn Art Gallery

Categories
Literature Penwith Poetry Uncategorized West Cornwall (and local history)

Saying goodbye to Mount’s Bay – by a Cornish migrant

I have a neat little book called ~” Poems of Cornwall” withdrawn from the County Library Service. The preface is by W.Herbert Thomas and is dated, “Penzance July !892”. A couple of months before the last down train from Paddington on Brunel’s broad gauge had run. It is a collection of some 30 poets of whom photographs of 18 appear inside the front cover. There is a poem by Sir Humphry Davy beneath an engraving of his statue.

St Michael’s Mount

Majestic Michael rises – he whose brow

Is crown’d with castles; and whose rocky sides

Are clad with dusky ivy: he whose base,

Beat by the storm of ages, stands unmov’d

Amidst the wreck of things-the change of time.

That base, encircled by the azure waves,

Was once with verdure clad; the towering oaks

Here waved their branches green: the sacred oaks ,

Whose awful shades among the Druids stay’d

To cut the hallowed mistletoe, and hold

High converse with their gods.

Sketch of the Mount last week and my leg!
Sketch of the Mount last week and my leg!

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Interesting this connection that early scientists felt for poetry and nature. Most obviously found in Goethe perhaps. Davy enjoyed angling  and travelled widely across Europe to fish, I believe on the Dalmatian coast-Shakespeare’s Illyria from Twelfth Night. Which information I seem to recall from that fascinating book,”The Age of Wonder” by Richard Holmes. Count Orsino’s castle became the Mount in that great production of Twelfth Night by Trevor Nunn in 1996. Returning to Davy’s poem, I suppose some of the vocabulary now sounds antiquated, although the original “awful” sounds like that recent commonly used word,”awesome”. I rather like the line -“Amidst the wreck of things-the change of time.” which reminds me somehow of that biography of Malcom Muggeridge which he entitled “Chronicles of Wasted Time”. A title which comes from the lovely sonnet 106 of Shakespeare:-Mount4

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express’d
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And, for they look’d but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
Returning to the main thread -what is otherwise called (aus den „Wahlverwandtschaften“ von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:) the roter Faden -“Poems in Cornwall”, the editor W.Herbert Thomas was in fact a journalist who is described as “the son of a mine-smith of St Day. For seven years a mining clark, he was afterwards a reporter for two years on the San Francisco “Examiner” and is now on the staff of the” Cornishman” -however I would like to draw attention to a short poem by W,F.Woodfield. It is rather poignant and all that is said of him is that he lived in Penzance, he wrote a collection called “Serpentine Worker” and ,”is now in Australia”.
The Emigrant’s Farewell to Mount’s Bay
Farewell Mount’s Bay! A long farewell
    I bid thy rock-bound shore;
My heart nigh breaks with grief to think
    I ne’er may see thee more.
 
From infancy I have watched thy waves,
     And roamed thy rocks and sands;
But I must leave thee beauteous bay,
     To toil in other lands.
 
My heart grows faint-tears blind me so,
     Words fail my love to tell;
My very soul so yearns for thee
    I scarce can say -farewell.
But Manhood bids me dry my tears,
    And brace me for the fight;
Adieu, adieu belove’d bay!
    Farewell my heart’s delight.
Sincerely felt lines at any rate. It gives us a feeling of the process of uprooting that is involved in emigration and ought, I think, make us consider the plight  of refugees with sympathy and support.
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Categories
Book Reviews Penwith West Cornwall (and local history)

Monday was Washday- a review of “Women of West Cornwall”

Monday was washday. For many Cornish women, the busiest day of the week. The first day of the week one of strenuous activity after a long, quiet and for many a Methodist Sunday. The thought of washday recalls images of raw, red hands, buckets of “blue” whitener and the dangerous possibility of fingers getting crushed in the mangle. In this book from the Penwith Local History Group, “Women of West Cornwall”, all the of the back breaking effort of domestic routine, to which women were tied, is vividly recalled. In earlier days before washing machines and even hot water, it might involve catching and hauling buckets of rainwater. For women in large Victorian families catering for brothers fishing or sons toiling on the land it meant restoring heavily soiled work clothes. It was truly hard labour.WWC

This fascinating 100 page book gives the impression that many women’s lives were run along pre-determined tracks. Who you married decided rigidly the pattern of your future life. Also according to medieval laws, up until the late 19th century your property and dowry became your husband’s. It recalls the lines of Joan Baez’s “Waggoner’s Lad” – a folk song that was much heard around Penwith in the sixties:-

“Oh, hard is the fortune of all womankind
She’s always controlled, she’s always confined
Controlled by her parents until she’s a wife
A slave to her husband the rest of her life”DREADNOUGHTSW-620x452

Yet, in spite of destiny, which sometimes included injury or loss of a husband, perhaps in war, womenfolk were determined not just to survive. “Women in West Cornwall” shows how they were intent upon improving their lot and also that of their sisters, real and metaphorical. Even in small villages like Ludgvan there were successful attempts to create a Friendly Society by means of which women might alleviate difficult times or dire emergencies. In a similar manner, women who managed large families, adapted their skills to run businesses in larger towns like Penzance. Despite educational discrimination and rigid stereotyping, these ladies showed an enterprising spirit, determination and courage. They pursued their rights to preserve their privacy, dignity and reputation through the complexities of Church Court system.

In this splendid little volume, it is truly encouraging to read of the maternal care that one Mousehole women showed in wartime to a number of Jewish children entrusted to her care, showering them with love and understanding. Bearing in mind the current refugee crisis, this story moves the reader to meditate upon the nature of human progress and the transformative power of kindness.

Aste Nielsen- Die Suffragette (1913)
Aste Nielsen- Die Suffragette (1913)

In a short review it is difficult to mention all the useful studies in this fascinating and moderately priced book. It is delightfully illustrated with informative diagrams and background material. It is worth mentioning that it contains passages of humour, like the surreal yet socially revealing clash between Penzance carnival queens in the 1930s. There is an informative chapter on the vicissitudes of being the model of a famous artist and her later experiences. These ten chapters all written by women show, in a variety of styles, empathy and imagination, much systematic and painstaking research into primary sources. Such materials, wills and deeds, being hand written are challenging to decipher. There is in addition a productive use of personal recollection and family memories. This is a great contribution both to Cornish and Women’s Studies. Equality, sadly, is still a work in progress but this neat volume marks, in a touching manner, the distance travelled towards that goal.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Penwith Uncategorized

French painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) -The Poor Fisherman – Oil on canvas

The Poor Fisherman - Oil on canvas, 155 x 192.5 cm (5' 1

According to the Web Museum in Paris,”He had only modest success early in his career (when a private income enabled him to work for little payment), but he went on to achieve an enormous reputation, and he was universally respected even by artists of very different aims and outlook from his own. Gauguin, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec were among his professed admirers. His reputation has since declined, his idealized depictions of antiquity or allegorical representations of abstract themes now often seeming rather anaemic. He remains important, however, because of his influence on younger artists. He influenced, for instance, the German artist Ludvig von Hoffman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_von_Hofmann and perhaps the Cornish based artist Thomas Cooper Gotch.

Ludvig Von Hoffman
Ludvig Von Hoffman

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His simplified forms, respect for the flatness of the picture surface, rhythmic line, and use of non-naturalistic color to evoke the mood of the painting appealed to both the Post-Impressionists and the Symbolists.” Puvis

Hope by Puvis de Chavannes
Hope by Puvis de Chavannes
Woodburytype after a negative by Étienne Carjat (1808-1906)
Categories
Art and Photographic History German Matters Penwith West Cornwall (and local history)

The Penzance Arcades Project; Prinzessinnengarten Sonntag Flohmarkt in Kreuzberg

I like rooting around in secondhand shops, in fleamarkets and car boot sales-see my posting on Rosudgeon market. The Arcade building at the top of Chapel Street is often missed by visitors in search of other delights such as the Exchange Gallery. img42A long time ago-I will need to consult the Penwith Local History Group to discover when-certainly before the Srcond World War this building was W>H.Smith as the photograph shows.Chapel Street. Chapel Street Further details of the intriguing history of this street may be found at http://www.chapelstreet.co.uk/accommodation.html In any event the upstairs and downstairs regions are well worth a visit-these photographs show some sketches that I was able to purchase for a very modest price.F

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On the hunt for books rather than pictures, much fun is to be had in the Fleamarket in Prinzessinnengarten-close to Moritzplatz on the U-bahn. It always seems to be very hot weather when I have visited and a good reason to have a cool Weissebier at the trestle tables under the trees and to read the Sunday newspapers. There is always an interesting range of literature in at least three languages. There are a good range of other items including records, CDs, dresses and jeans. There is often a music group on hand and the atmosphere reminds me of St Ives in the Sixties or the summer exhibition at Falmouth Art School. There is a big emphasis on green issues, multiculturalism and the folk all seem jolly and entspannend. Further details may be found at http://prinzessinnengarten.net/de/was-passiert-im-garten/projekte/regelmaessige-veranstaltungen-in-der-gartensaison/F7F6

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Categories
Art Exhibition Reviews Penwith St Ives West Cornwall (and local history)

Some views of Cornwall Open Studios 2016

Open Studios can indeed be a pleasant opportunity to travel around Cornwall, meet artists in their studios and, of course, purchase perhaps some pieces of their work. Not least is the fun of returning to Krowji and seeing new artists and new developments in what has become a vital and innovative centre for craft, jewellery, painting, prints and pottery situated in the old Redruth Grammar School and brand new studios.NH4NH1

It was great to view the outstanding ceramics made by Nic Harrison, hand thrown forms rooted in the Leach tradition. Nic having worked at the Leach pottery now has a splendidly appointed studio at Penhale Jakes in Ashton near Helston. Oxides of iron, copper and cobalt produce some wonderful coloured glazes. His work may be seen at http://www.nicharrison.com

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Also of considerable interest, because I particularly like the medium, were watercolour studies done both in Spain and locally in West Penwith of Paul Armitage. He has an exhibition coming up at the Trereife Gallery near Newlyn between 20th June and 5th July, this year 2016. The palette of earth tones and greys which he uses have a charming lyrical quality.

http://www.essextyler.com/artist/paul-armitageNH3

After travelling down the high lanes full with the abundance of early summer flowers, a warm welcome awaits in the surreal atmosphere of the Melting Pot cafe in Krowji. Once a Grammar School staffroom it now has something of what I imagine a Zurich kneipe might have developed in the 1920s. The stage seems about to erupt into some avant-garde spectacle.

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Penwith St Ives Uncategorized West Cornwall (and local history)

Spring arrives in Penwith

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives in February
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives in February

Just a few recent photographs from February to April- the onset of Spring.

Underpass in Heamoor
Underpass in Heamoor
Abbey Slip- Penzance
Abbey Slip- Penzance
Penlee Park in Penzance
Penlee Park in Penzance
Lambeth Walk in St Ives
Lambeth Walk in St Ives
Crab pots -Downalong, St Ives
Crab pots -Downalong, St Ives