Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – Kurt Jackson

4th December 2012

In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments:

I spent the last year making a body of work about my community of St Just with paint and sculpture; attempting to stand back and look with fresh eyes at the lie of the land, the architecture, the residents/ my neighbours and then the farming, fishing, mining and annual events. I wanted to celebrate the local and show that provincial or parochial isn’t a negative thing but that an awareness of biodiversity and sustainability issues in one’s own backyard is to put one in touch with the global. I find myself painting and drawing on cliff tops and in lanes, in factories and on boats and as the seasons swing round noting down the changes with the fauna and flora. Within and during this time I occasionally creep away.

Tangy. In the spring we followed the Kintyre peninsula down to the foot to arrive by a glinting, rushing burn between banks of celandines and kingcups. We stayed in a big solid ancient water mill complete and in perfect working order but still and silent, every functional cog and wheel unworked for 50 years, beside that noisy bubbling brook beneath soaring golden eagles and skylarks. I followed the stream from its loch high on the moor past the mill and down to that dark coast with my pencil line and paintbrush stroke, tracing every curve and meander, overhanging tree and washed rock.

June. No Glastonbury but we make it across to Scilly instead to walk on huge canvases spread out in the sun on what feels like a desert island – a blistering St Martins where the tame thrushes and oystercatchers are the only spectators for my painterly antics on those blinding white sands.

July. After hearing about a train direct from London to Avignon we shed the rain and slip down to Arles. I bask in Picasso and Vincent’s sunshine by the Rhone and make collages in scorched squares and shady streets full of ethnic tunes for the world music festival.

August. Our eldest daughter Zinzi’s wedding to Fynn – our first family wedding. Very traditional and beautiful and local, all smiles and laughter under stair rods of pouring rain; then dancing to the madness of the Baghdaddies in a Cornish field overlooking the Atlantic as the sunset replaced the rain. Fine times.

September. Was brimming over / too full – two exhibitions, a book launch, a TV programme and a beer. Yes I launched a beer, in keg and bottle – The Artist’s Pint with the St Ives Brewery.

We find a new way of taking exotic holidays. Staying in cottages within an hours drive from home [one only eleven minutes door to door!]. But with a complete change of landscape and no phone reception or TV, a retreat of sorts but warm and historic. A different frame of mind and outlook – inspiring an outpouring of paintings.

The autumn was full of the gloomy news of ash dieback. We keep our fingers crossed, West Cornwall might escape this lurgy although our elms were trashed last time around; Scilly was the only place that kept them all. We respond by not buying more trees for our expanding reforestation project but thin and replant instead. Oaks, birches, chestnuts, willows and yes some ashes with special care.