Caught by the River

Cot: A Cornish Valley

8th September 2017

The Jackson Foundation celebrates the first anniversary of its extension with a stunning new Kurt Jackson exhibition. The artist talks us through his inspiration for the works:

All along the north coast of Cornwall are a series of steep-sided valleys cut into the coastal plain, each channelling a stream down to the sea. St Just in Penwith, Britain’s most westerly town, sits between two of these beautiful valleys, each with their own stream. To the south lies Cot Valley, about a mile out of the town.

Cot valley has attracted me for well over three decades, finding my subject matter along the stream, on Nanven’s foreshore and immersed in the dense vegetation of the valley. Birds entertain me, insects visit, midges nibble while the wind and sun, the rain and cold all try to frustrate my efforts.

For this exhibition, I chose to focus entirely on this one small piece of Cornwall, following the stream from source to sea and noting the wildlife – the plants and animals that kept me company in my solitary wanderings. Criss-crossing and revisiting the valley, new sites have been discovered and old haunts reworked. Large tarpaulin-sized sheets of canvas have been laid out beneath the Cornish skies to be daubed and painted in my endeavours. The banks have been perched upon to produce the smaller studies of the waters’ flow and rush; this place has been scrutinised and analysed. Walking always leads to new discoveries, but so does bathing in the cold waters of the stream and the sea. Early mornings, moody afternoons, dusk, and under moonlight all have a different feel, as do the changing seasons and weather systems. Hiding under an overhanging tree for shade or shelter, or hunkering down into the bracken out of the gales and hale and horizontal rain all inflict on the piece being worked on; some lead to frustrating challenges and failures; some produce successes. The valley steers, shapes and colours the work.


Kurt Jackson – Cot: A Cornish Valley, is on at the Jackson Foundation Gallery until February 17th 2018. Open Wednesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am – 1pm. Family friendly & free admission.

Kurt Jackson on Caught by the River / on Twitter