West Penwith, Cornwall – where the dark volcanic rock meets saltwater at the shape-shifting margin twixt land and sea…
The dramatic landscape of west Cornwall has captured the imagination of writers and artists for three centuries, and now this ancient and sacred landscape is explored and celebrated anew in this thoughtfully curated show of artworks by guest artists in Penwith Rhythms: Ancient and Sacred Landscape, a new exhibition featuring Sam Boughton; Melvyn Evans; Lisa Pettibone;Tommy Rowe; and Charlotte Jones, at Porthminster Gallery from 23 October.
Hallowe’en is fast approaching, and with it the spectre of its Celtic precursor – the ancient festival of Samhain (Allantide here in Cornwall), celebrating the beginning of the ‘cycle of the wheel’ – a sort of New Year’s Day, when the veil between worlds was at its thinnest.
For five thousand years here in West Penwith, Cornwall – where the dark volcanic rock meets saltwater at the shape-shifting margin twixt land and sea, the granite moors and clifftops have stood sentinel to the many ancient and sacred sites that huddle in this atmospheric and mysterious land at the very end of Britain. A magical and transmutative landscape of stone circles, standing stones, settlements, quoits, and tombs, where worlds collide and spawn a rich folklore of mermaids, giants, spriggans, knockers, piskies, and changelings.
The artists’ works on show are complemented by newly acquired bronze sculptures by permanent gallery artist, Margaret Lovell FRBS RWA, and works by a selection of TATE St Ives artists who were also inspired by prehistoric monuments, and the ancient landscape, notably Barbara Hepworth; Ben Nicholson; Terry Frost; Henry Moore; and Victor Pasmore. Hepworth, for example, had moved to Cornwall in 1939, and viewed the prehistoric monuments of West Penwith as sculptures in the landscape, which influenced her series of ‘menhir’ sculptures.