Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Gull, The Pasty and Me

Photo by Andrew Dunn
One of the joys of  my job, apart from mopping the fevered brows of the sick,  is driving around the Devon lanes listening to Radio 4.  It feels like I'm skiving!  And today's offering on my journey from Kingsbridge back to base in Totnes was an absolute cracker, which, if you're so inclined you can catch for the next week on the BBC website.

St Ives and Me  presented by Anna Chen, a comedian and poet talked about the Cornish fishing port and its eclectic mix of people who get along quite nicely.  It's the town where once a bold seagull stole the entire pasty that I'd just bought for lunch and these intrepid birds got a mention for their adeptness at food stealing.  Artists have been attracted by the town's 'special energy' and quality of light for yonks.  Apparently this is just not hippy mumbo jumbo but scientific fact that could not doubt be proved on a programme like Man Lab.  The town is surrounded on three sides by beaches which causes light to be diffracted and hence accounts for its brilliance that can be really and truly be seen from outer space and is not just a figment of minds expanded by wacky baccy and the like.

Photo by Fae
Many out there will be delighted to hear that one of the greats from this seaside town painted on old cardboard boxes.  I'd have loved to have illustrated this post with Alfred Wallis' painting of Saltash but copyright seems to prevent me posting any of his work here. So you'll have to make do with a photo of his rather marvellous grave and follow this link instead to view it along with numerous other examples that demonstrate the naive style that was so admired by other greats like Ben Nicholson .

You may find, as I did,  Wallis' paintings very familiar once you've had a peek but not put the pictures and the name of the artist together.  However, until I knew about the source of the materials it hadn't dawned on me that his restricted palette didn't necessarily arise out of choice.  He used  paint leftover from boat maintenance out of necessity.  Definite proof that  thrifty recycling has been going on for ever and a day and is not just the latest right-on idea.  It also goes to show that you certainly don't have to fork out tons of money on expensive materials to produce something beautiful which may become extremely valuable over time.

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