CORNISH ARTISTS: ROB BRAYBROOKS

PUBLISHED: 15:38 16 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:13 30 August 2017

Rob Braybrooks Mount and Alexanders

Rob Braybrooks Mount and Alexanders

Corwall is famous for its artists who flock to the county for the incredible light. We meet artist ROB BRAYBROOKS

Art and Innovation: Rob Braybrooks bridges the gap between painting, drawing and contemporary craft, writes MERCEDES SMITH

In my career as an arts writer I have, as you might expect, acquired a few pieces of art. Just a few works that are precious to me, some paintings, some pottery and the odd piece of contemporary Cornish craft, but one work in my humble collection is harder to define.

Neither painting, drawing nor craft object, Alexanders’ by West Cornwall artist Rob Braybrooks is unique in its approach to materials. Skirting the edges of applied design, Braybrooks’ subtle relief works are created from beautifully detailed, hand-cut layers of Birchwood set against richly coloured surfaces. Combining a designer’s technical precision with the sensitive line of the sketchbook artist, his unique works take the form of delicate reliefs that hang in a classic canvas format. The pared down nature of his imagery captures the essential detail of the Cornish landscape, exploring how minimal use of contrasting colour and the sparest use of line can express the shape and perspective of the familiar headlands, sweeping coastline and distinctive flora and forna of West Cornwall. The piece I own, for example, is a beautifully composed image of St Michaels Mount viewed from across the water through a swathe of graceful Alexanders, and is a favourite rendition of the coast on which I live.

Combining a designer’s technical precision with the sensitive line of the sketchbook artist, his unique works take the form of delicate reliefs that hang in a classic canvas format. The pared down nature of his imagery captures the essential detail of the Cornish landscape, exploring how minimal use of contrasting colour and the sparest use of line can express the shape and perspective of the familiar headlands, sweeping coastline and distinctive flora and forna of West Cornwall.

There is a fresh and unpretentious beauty to Braybrooks’ works, which appeals to both my passion for painting and my predilection for the humble line drawing, where less’ is truly and powerfully more’. The great achievement of these works is that they bridge the gap between large format painting, contemporary craft and the intimate quality of sketchbook work, a rarely exhibited feature of the arts.

Trained originally in mechanical engineering, Braybrooks began his career as a design engineer and then teacher. It was whilst working alongside Keith van Winkel, one of South Africa’s foremost design technologists, that he began to develop his artistic ideas and appreciate how practical technologies might be used to make representations of beautiful things. Now living and working in the coastal village of Perranuthnoe, his artwork deals with ideas of permanence and transience in the landscape, setting nature’s changing seasons against the unchanging landforms of West Cornwall. His highly original technique and eye for balanced composition have attracted uniquely demanding commissions that require both an artist’s eye and a designers technical skill, including a collection of panels for the Observatory Tower in Falmouth and lighting designs for the gallery at Tremenheere Sculpture Park, a venue which has invested heavily in both established and up and coming talent.

This January Braybrooks’ work will be on show at Olympia, London as part of Craft – Redefining Handmade. He will also be represented by Cornwall Contemporary at the 2015 Affordable Art Fair, London and will be on show as part of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's Week of Wildlife Art at the Mall Galleries, London. Find his work at Fowey River Gallery and Tremenheere Gallery, Penzance.

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