Cornwall - One County Which Matches Norfolk Artistically

Cornwall - One County Which Matches Norfolk Artistically

23/02/2023     General News

We all know that our part of the world is something of a magnet for artists.  East Anglian Art has been a beacon in British visual arts for more than 200 years, stretching back from the Norwich School painters of the early 19th century such as John Sell Cotman and John Crome, via 19th and 20th century giants such as Alfred Munnings and Edward Seago, right through to contemporary artists such as Colin Burns and Maggie Hambling.

This is the reason that Keys’ East Anglian Art sale, which takes place four times a year, is one of the most anticipated visual art auctions in the country, attracting bidders from throughout the UK and beyond.

There is probably only one county which rivals our own for its artistic heritage, and that is Cornwall.  Much like Norfolk, Cornwall is at ‘the end of the road’, benefits from clear, largely unpolluted light, and offers wonderful landscapes and dramatic skies for painters to portray. 

Echoing our own groups such as the aforementioned Norwich School and the Norwich 20, Cornwall has given birth to similar movements, including Newlyn Impressionism and the St Ives School.

It was the extension of the Great Western Railway all the way to Penzance in the late 1870s which opened up Cornwall to artists, which up until that point had been remote and inaccessible.  At Newlyn, and its offshoot Lamorna, artists such as Stanhope Forbes and Frank Bramley developed the Impressionist doctrine of working directly from the subject, often in ‘plein-air’.

Meanwhile at St Ives, a movement which saw innovation in modern and abstract art developed, including other mediums such as sculpture and pottery – with artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach leading the way.

Cornwall remains a magnet for artists today, attracted by the light, the romantic landscape and the quality of life.  Artists such as Peter Fox, Darren Paul Clarke, Vince Peterson, David Gainford and Jan Merrick Horn continue to fly the flag for the county, and the popularity of their works in the salerooms rivals many of our own contemporary East Anglian artists.

Born in Kettering in 1952, Peter Fox is one of many artists who have made Cornwall their home.  A member of the Newlyn Society of Artists, his work is strongly influenced by primitive and non-western art.  Mythical undertones unite with strong natural imagery to create a collection that references the landscape and haunting magical, animal underworlds, drawing an interesting perspective onto tales of myth and folklore for the modern gaze.

Darren Paul Clarke (born 1973) is an artist living and creating in St Ives.  He works mainly with oil paints, attempting to communicate the relationship between man and nature.  He says that he Cornish landscape ‘inspires me and ignites my senses, the light, the colour and the composition of what I see, feel and hear’.

Keys has a significant collection of contemporary Cornish art in our first Modern Art & Design Sale, which takes place next month, including works by Fox and Clarke.  Looking at these pictures, you sense a real artistic kinship between Norfolk and Cornwall, and it is exciting to see such works going under the hammer in our county.

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