black rocks… green sea…

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Back in April I had a week’s break in St Ives, Cornwall. I’d booked an arts workshop last autumn at the St Ives School of Painting, but due to further lockdowns, all workshops before the end of April 2021 were cancelled. But I’d paid for the cottage so we turned it into a week’s sketching holiday. The far west of Cornwall is one of my very favourite places (if you want to see other posts I’ve written about the area, along with sketchbook images etc, just type Cornwall into the Search area at the top of this page).

Outgoing tide, The Island, St Ives, Cornwall. Sketchbook spread. © Mari French 2021

It was cold (it had been such a chilly start to spring) but we had wall-to-wall sunshine. Cliched though it is, the light in Cornwall IS amazing! St Ives actually has 5 beaches and I found myself a bit obsessed with the coastal rocks – so many shapes, sizes and types. (We don’t get many rocky coves on the East Anglian coastline.) I particularly spent time observing and sketching the rocky coastline just below the far side of ‘The Island’, St Ives.

Beach & jetty, St Ives, Cornwall. Sketchbook. © Mari French 2021

I’ve since been invited to supply a few coastal paintings for an exhibition coming up at Gallery East, Woodbridge, Suffolk, where I’ve been fortunate enough to have shown work since they opened a couple of years ago. The theme of the exhibition is ‘Restless coast’ – a group show featuring artists from the west and east coasts of the UK, exploring what it is that draws them to a coastline – and they thought some of my newly inspired Cornwall work would fit the bill. For me, it’s also been interesting to contrast the energy and colours of this coastal work with that of Salthouse, North Norfolk which I was developing earlier in the Spring.

At the moment the crashing turquoise sea, white spray and the dark unyielding rocks, spotted with bright lichen are what seems to be emerging in the pieces I’m working on. But I want to keep pushing the process, abstracting it further in the search for the essence of the subject.

Below are a couple of the resulting small experimental workbook pages from the studio; acrylic, collage, mono print. Here I’m channeling the idea of that rocky coastline and lively sea, bright sunlight and turquoise waters; inspired by the fabulous jade sea crashing into rocky coves. I like the simplicity of these small playful works, but translating that to larger pieces is usually a challenge for me.

Sun and rocks, workbook image. © Mari French 2021.
Across Porthgwidden beach, workbook image. © Mari French 2021.

And here are some of the resulting works, currently at the framers, that will soon be on their way to Gallery East for the ‘Restless Sea’ exhibition, which starts on 1st July.

The sea shapes the land, the black rocks resist the sea. Meanwhile the ochre lichen clings on.

‘Every seventh wave’, mixed media on paper, 30x30cm. © Mari French 2021
‘Rising tide’, mixed media on paper, 45x60cm. © Mari French 2021
‘Energy and light’, mixed media on paper, 46x58cm. © Mari French 2021

an abstract perspective…

 

Artist Ruth McCabe chats with Gallery owner Susie Turner in front of my wall of work.

Artist Ruth McCabe chats with Gallery owner Susie Turner in front of my work at Gallery East, Woodbridge. © Mari French 2019

Last Saturday, along with several fellow artists at the launch of ‘Surface: women abstract artists in East Anglia’, I gave a short talk on my working process at Gallery East, Woodbridge, Suffolk. I’m very pleased to have my work included in this exhibition, alongside artists I admire including Jane Lewis RWS.

The Private View was mobbed, with people spilling out of the door and, although nerve-wracking for a few of us(!), it was fascinating hearing other abstract artists speak about their own work and creative processes.

 

 

The video above (which looks the wrong way up but is fine when clicked on!) was taken at the launch and is of my own short chat explaining how I take my inspiration and turn it into a painting. (Looking at it now, I feel that if my arms were cut off I’d be dumbstruck!).

The exhibition continues till  mid-November. Gallery East is a beautiful new contemporary space in East Anglia, but is already gathering a large following. They can be found at 24 Church Street, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1DH or online at
www.galleryeast.co.uk

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Talking with artist Michelle Cobbin in front of her work.

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Busy PV which got even busier!