Monday, 7 May 2012

Last thoughts, Artists Residency, Tinners Coast and Penlee Museum

Last thoughts

Packing up is a hard thing to do when I have worked so intensively in this place - albeit for such a short time. 

Notes from a visit to the excellent Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance
to see the beautiful Penwith Lunula, other treasures and fantastic collection of paintings.
I do feel as though I have deepened my understanding of this area, and tin, and have produced preparatory work which will lead to further pieces which reflect how it feels to be in this amazing place. I am keen to use the native tin with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold - as I have recently been granted a licence-holder. The relationship of miner and metal is obviously one of importance generally, to this landscape and to me too.

Seals off the Cape. Watercolour

Below, my final thoughts left in the Visitor's book and questionnaire for the trustees of Brisons Veor.

Visitor's Book

Activity Report / Questionaire

Please summarise how you think your project went.  We are particularly interested in any lessons learned and key achievements.
The project went well - although I quickly realised that two weeks was only going to be the starting point! I was able to develop my ideas in sculpting and drawing with wire - eventually leading to the same in Cornish Tin (see pictures). I also forged connections in this mining area and was able to visit underground and behind the scenes to paint and sketch - further developing methods of providing a visual background to my jewellery pieces. I have a deeper understanding of how rock shapes man and man shapes rock in this unique area - a theme which will run through future creations. Another theme I have been exploring is that of the stark contrasts evident on many levels in this area - textures of sea and landscape, light and dark, activity and stillness, noise and quiet, rich and poor, red and blue/green, hope and disappointment, cliff and valley, etc.
Please give details of the expected outcomes of your activity, in terms of exhibitions, performance, commissions, or sales.
I will be exhibiting and demonstrating at Art in Action, Oxfordshire this summer. Also exhibiting throughout London Jewellery Week, in the Essence (world’s first ethical jewellery exhibition) section of Treasure at Somerset House, Embankment, London.

The British Jeweller’s Association have commissioned me to make 6 pieces for their collection from Cornish tin and silver - I have been working on part of these during my stay too.
How many people do you estimate will benefit from the activity as a result of your residency? Do you focus on any particular ages or special groups in your creative work?
This is difficult to answer! I hope my work might in some way further raise interest in this area’s mining heritage and mineral wealth,  and the impact of this on landscape, community and technology. I also hope my work reflects to others (of all ages) my own feelings of the beauty and drama of this environment which is so rich and diverse - to do this by using its native metals is particularly important to me.
In my finished jewellery pieces, I aim to give the the wearer a sense of connection with the above in a form that is tangible, enduring, aesthetically pleasing and treasured.

26th April 2012

 Boulders and rocks

Another walk to the Cot valley and Porth Nanveen- this time the low tide has revealed some amazing sculpted shapes in the boulders

Drawing from kestrels' perch. Porth Nanveen

Kerensa Wave and Shore ring. Gold, palladium and Cornish Tin


Levant & Kenidjack. Tinners Coast

25th April 2012

Kenidjack Valley

A walk along the coast path towards Botallack (after the gale force winds have dropped). I come across a lizard basking in the sun on a Coast Path sign - I hope no one saw me creeping-up on hands and knees to get this picture - typically I only had a normal lens on my camera!

The Kenidjack valley is sheltered and the contrast between the windswept exposed headlands is very stark. Streams flow and the plants are lush at this time of year. The sounds vary too from the cliffs - bird song fills the air and the sound of the sea diminishes. This was obviously a site of huge tin mining importance - there is evidence of waterways and a restored pool alongside many building ruins.


View through salty window - Levant
The colours of Levant Zawn

Levant winding (whim) beam engine, fly wheel. Watercolour

A second  trip to Levant, as I didn't have time previously to see all of it. The beam engine, lovingly restored by volunteers, is in full steam and it's a cosy place to be! The site scrambles over the dramatic cliff face and along the coast - under and overground. 

I walk along the tunnel from the dry to the man engine shaft - the red walls are cool and water drips down on the site of one of the worse mine disasters of the area - killing 31 men and boys - still very much alive in local memory over 90 years on.

Levant mine, Botallack and Sennen Cove

19th April 2012

Sennen Cove

A bright and breezy morning so I head off to Sennen Cove to beach comb. Fascinating shapes made by seaweed washed up by the stormy seas remind me of drawings on the sand. Colours, shapes and shadows. I look up the coast line to Cape Cornwall.


I visit Levant mine on the Tinner's coast. Run by the National Trust and with a working steam beam 'whim' engine, the atmosphere on this incredibly windy day is amazing. As I step out of the beam engine building two choughs tumble in the air in front of me, diving down into the zawn towards the sea. 

The more I find out about the mines in this area and their history, the more in awe I am of them and the people who worked them. The mines carved the landscape, and also the community - providing an identity and way of life which endured for generations.
Not so long ago this coast was ringing with noise, activity and people - such a stark contrast to today.


 On for a tin chat with Geoff, then a walk along the coast path and sketch in the gale force wind at Botallack before heading back to the Cape. The choughs fly overhead, along with ravens and swallows. I am also amazed to witness a large rabbit chasing off two stoats, with much shrieking!

 The mine ruins here are particularly spectacular and probably the most photographed - they cling to the edge of the granite cliffs - a credit to those that built them (they have no foundations due to their position and the underlying hard rock).

I love the sense of isolation along the coast path here and the wonder what's going on under the waves. Again, the contrast of how this place once was springs to mine and not for the first time I can feel that undercurrent of loss that runs throughout the area.

Royal Cornwall Museum and Tin.

24th April 2012

Royal Cornwall Museum - the coffee's as good as the native minerals collection!

Royal Cornwall Museum 

I head off to Truro to spend some more time in the Royal Cornwall Museum. I revisit the minerals and mining section to look more closely at certain things, and spend time in the art galleries. I am drawn to the Arts and Crafts Newlyn copper work - the Arts and Crafts designs are great examples of that era - and the craftsmanship is superb.

Tin smelter's mark - pelican. Watercolour

The collection of tin ingots is fascinating - I love the images used and the increasing complexity of the designs as time wore on - pelican (for sending to non-Christian countries) or lamb and flag. Sketches below.
Bissoe and Trereife smelters marks. Watercolour

Another shape which catches my eye is that of the miners' oak shovels - many preserved for hundreds of years in bogs. Their simple, weathered shapes have a true beauty to them and a direct connection with the people who sought this metal long ago. I have seen these before, and my first Kerensa Cornish tin and gold pendants in part owe their design to this shape.

Tin - Miracle Theatre and The English Touring Opera
Hall for Cornwall, Truro

I catch the last performance of Tin at the Hall for Cornwall, Truro. Starring Jenny Agutter and Ben Luxton, it is a melodrama and love story incorporating the true tale of  corruption and fraud within a mine in the St Just area. The programme for the event is produced as a newspaper from the 1800's - I have used a copy to create my Tinners Coast map.  The depiction of the characters in the play (apparently very true to life) has definitely brought the human aspect of the tin story closer for me.

23rd April 2012

Rocks, mines and storms

A calm and warm start to the day. I walk to the top of the Cape to watch the seals and continue developing some ideas. I sketch out the rocks surrounding me using a variety of media to try and capture their character.

Priests Cove, ink, conte and chalk

The more time I spend here the more I can imagine the mine buildings that have long gone. I can start to pick out the footprints of them from the landscape and the scars left by adits and shafts driven in to the rock. The mines here ran out under the sea and it wasn't unusual for a miner to have to climb down ladders for over an hour to get to work and of course climb the same, 6 hours later, having done a days work.

From a lovely sunny start, the stormy weather moves in quickly. The sea and skies are constantly changing. I must admit I quite enjoy a good storm - provided I'm safe and can get dry when I need to!

Storm from the studio

20th / 21st April 2012


The area is one of huge contrasts. Dark mines that haven't seen natural light and the big skies and sea scapes above. Exposed granite cliffs - windswept and rugged, drop down into lush, sheltered valleys where sounds change with each drop in depth, bird song fills the air and chattering streams run to the sea. The romance and promise of the mineral wealth and the mines compared with the harsh realities of the graft and danger involved in working underground. The peace of the environment compared to how it must had been when the mining was in full swing. Textures and colours contrast - red mud from the mines and the blue / green of the sea and the copper minerals deposited on the rocks of the cliffs. Lonlienss compared to the sense of community and identity that the mining gave.

Kerensa Surf pendants - silver and Cornish tin

 Wire Wave

I've had this idea for a while, so it's lovely to finally have time to experiment. After a week's wave watching I feel ok about creating the shape out of wire. I am pleased with the result - I had hoped for a kind of three dimensional drawing, and when lit from one side, a further accent is added, as the wire is either in shadow or reflects the light. I like the idea that this carries the theme of contrasts -light and dark - definitely something I will pursue in Cornish tin.