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.
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
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.
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.
Getting to Krowji on a Sunday in December by public transport is a time-consuming business. Servicing the railway and circuitous bus routes turn a simple trip into an epic voyage. At least it affords time to see more new supermarkets, innovative centres in Pool and glimpses of neo-classical architecture in the grand manner. The upper stories of the façades remind one of the prosperity of this area in its heyday.
Upon arrival, the bohemian atmosphere in The Melting Pot Cafe, the warmth and the leek and potato soup help to revive after the lengthy journey. The wall of clocks and masques and surreal paraphernalia suggest that a cabaret is about to begin and indeed there is a pianist in cap and bells already upon the stage. This has a timeless and dreamy ambience quite unique and sui generis.
Moving around the crowded studios, there was a buzz which always seems stronger here where the art is being produced than visiting a gallery. I was particularly attracted to the work of Linda Crane -printmaking and painting but also small sculptures -including a small head which I thought reminiscent of Giacometti. The angular and elongated forms, the expressionist use of paint and the dramatic drawings were intriguing and attractive. My impression too was as though I felt a resonance both with Kokoschka and El Greco. Her work may be seen at http://www.sulisfineart.com/search/page/2?q=Linda+Crane and also at http://www.outsidein.org.uk/linda-crane where I was surprised to read of her work being in Penzance at the Redwing Gallery.
I think the fact that her atelier was empty increased my fascination with her display and her portfolio.I think my recent travels may also have influenced my susceptibilities. It is also interesting to research the influence of El Greco on Expressionism- as in the recent exhibition El Greco und die Moderne.(Dusseldorf 2012 http://www.smkp.de/en/exhibitions/archive/2012/el-greco.html)