Brisons Veor Cape Cornwall Residency 29th July - 12th Aug 2023

Cape Cornwall residency

Brisons Veor 29th July -12th August 2023 

We arrive at the Cape and it's much busier than the Hebridean island we left two weeks ago.

I like that though it's thriving a holiday hotspot for many and it almost seems a novelty to be back within this amount of company.

 I had thought we might be more cut off than this but as it happens we are within walking distance of St Just , which has pubs , cafe's and shops , the National Trust carpark just above the cove sells ice creams too. Again ,after our usual forty minute commute to any shop, this all ticks all the boxes  , so it seems we're off to a good start.

 Our digs for the fortnight are perched beside the samphire covered harbour wall with second floor windows that face straight out onto the sea. Priests cove to the left and the Brisons rocks to the right. Straight ahead is Lands end , followed by  Longships lighthouse that juts forward into the Atlantic. On a clear day we can see the Scilly Isles but we wont see one of those until days after we leave. 

The swell of the tide that powers along the coast here is immense. Definition of a Cape - A place where two large bodies of water meet , I think this is the reason for this constant restless energy.

We have some strong winds in the first couple of days. The memory of watching that barrage of water barrel towards us without pause or trepidation see's me grabbing for the paints , it's all about those high seas and i'm thrown full into the creative flow for the entire first week here. It feels intense and different from how I usually work , i'm used to the sudden bursts of energy and resulting output but this is extra exhausting . By the end of each evening I feel dead on my feet , physically and mentally done for and I think it's down to me trying so hard to find that colour palette that let's us know Dorothy isn't in Kansas anymore. Old colour habits die hard and this is a wonderful big difficult lesson for me to learn but I get it , once the panic subsides I see it and i'm away , paint , eat sleep ... repeat.

Every day for the first week i'm awake just before 7am , greeted by the same thundering waves that lulled me to sleep the night before. Upstairs is the kitchen / living and studio space and I begin each morning with the intention to make a coffee and sit back in the chair for a while ,  watching the daily drama of the mist swallowing and revelling the cliffs . Inevitably  two hours later the coffee still sits in the pot and iv'e begun a spree - paint splattered and still in my Pajamas , bed head to boot , but that's what a painting addiction does to you isn't it. 

 Our stroll each evening is to be my other great source of inspiration.I love the little path down to the cove between the Cape and Kenidjack cliffs where the sea crashes wildly into the caves tossing seaweed and spume out, up and over . I could watch this forever , mesmerised by the to and fro in the company of a family of bobbing seals and engulfed in the odour of salted rotting seaweed. I don't think it's only me who loves that smell ? 

One thing I noticed quickly at the Cape was the flora, so much green dotted with grasses , gorse, samphire , succulents , heathers , wildflowers , blackberry bushes , ferns and on and on it goes I love plants , all plants , but I have a soft spot for the enormous Gunnera nestled in beside a stream on the way to theTregeseal stone circle. 

Two neighbouring Choughs have been the most wonderful regular sight for us here. What a beautiful bird ,with a graceful swooping flight and a chirp that reminds me of a dog toy. They made it into one of the paintings , maybe more if you look hard enough , they absolutely had to. 

I struggle with the visual aftermath of the tin mining industry that dominates the cliffs across to the right and up to Pendeen and choose to focus my attention on the pattern and texture of natural coastline and moorland that hovers above us at the cape instead. The Outer Hebrides is largely unaltered by industrial debris and i'm not sure how to deal with what I see as here as 'spoils'. I am also hesitant to do my usual pigment forage here as historic tin mines are known to still carry dangerous levels of toxic wastes such as Lead , zinc , copper , cadmium and most frighteningly arsenic . I love my found pigments but i'll pass this time. I rely heavily on my tubes of burnt sienna , raw umber  and yellow ochre to help nail my Cornwall earth palette instead.

At the end of my residency I come away with a collection of paintings and sketches that were created as and read like snapshots of my time there . No real theme just how it was to be in that place for a time with a big studio wall and no other distractions . I feel lucky to have been invited here by the Brisons Veor trustees and i'm grateful for the funding support  granted  to me by Creative Scotland. 

I have learnt much about my habitual practice in this environment . I realise I have experience enough to know exactly what I thought I might need to pack with me as I headed to a studio 800 miles south but I feel I have learnt an awful lot more about when and how to adapt to change. Note to self , relax , take in the surroundings and have those brushes near for when that lightening bolt strikes , here's to my next residency on the volcanic island of La Gomera . See you there .

The full collection of works created at Brisons Veor will be shown by Whitewater contemporary , Polzeath from 26th August to 27th September to receive your digital preview follow this link to my dedicated exhibition  page take me there

many thanks to for her wonderful photography