A new exhibition for photographer Hilary Stock at Watergate Bay Hotel
PUBLISHED: 16:26 08 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:18 20 February 2013
A photographer's love of Cornwall and boats has come together perfectly in her new exhibition, as Lesley Double discovers
When the boat comes into focus
A photographers love of Cornwall and boats has come together perfectly in her new exhibition, as Lesley Double discovers
Photographs by John & Maya Stock
Visitors to the Watergate Bay Hotel Spa can enjoy not only the magnificent facilities on offer, but the fabulous photographs taken by Hilary Stock that adorn walls in the treatment rooms, the caf-reception and the Ocean Room. Whereas many photographers take pictures of panoramic Cornish scenes, Hilary is interested in the minutiae of life, especially that of boats.My father was a sailor and I spent a lot of my childhood loitering around in boatyards, says Hilary. I liked to look closely at the boats, especially when they were being worked on. There was always something fascinating to see, from rusty anchors and broken nameplates, to peeling paint on wooden hulls.
Hilarys photographs are gathered into groups and usually framed in batches of 3 x 3. At the Watergate Bay Hotel, the larger groups are found in the Ocean Room, a marvellous space created for post-exercise relaxation which has glorious views over the Bay and which forms the perfect backdrop for her pictures.
Although not Cornish herself Hilary was born in London her mother and grandmother are both from Mousehole. My mother moved away to live in London with my father, whos Scottish, although we spent all of our holidays in Cornwall, says Hilary. Now I have children and a family of my own, but we still come to Cornwall and Mousehole in particular.
I live in Wiltshire, which makes it easy to pop down here whenever I can and my children have been brought up on Cornish beaches and harbours, just as I was. I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember, and love getting out there with my camera, whatever the weather. Wet, cold days produce better photos that sunny summer ones, as those can often be too bright and the light appears artificial.
Hilarys early life was spent up country, attending college in London, studying anthropology at university, and afterwards producing documentaries for the BBC. I was always interested in the human side of life, and investigated different ways of seeing, continues Hilary.
I have lived in India and Morocco. It was easy to photograph people in India as everyone was so friendly and willing to be a subject, but it was harder in Morocco and I ended up taking photos of patterns and texture in the streets and markets.This proved a good sounding board for her latest work, The Cornish Series, which is full of mesmerising pictures of bits and pieces of boats, most of which were taken in the harbours and boatyards at Newlyn, Polruan, Gweek and St Ives.February and March is my busiest time of year, both for taking photos and because its easier to cut and fold them when its cooler, says Hilary. I visit boatyards and take pictures of sailors and fishermen working on their boats, getting them ready to go back to sea.
But I have to be quick and I try to have my camera with me all the time, as Ive learned from experience that a boat can change from one day to the next. One day I might like the way the paint is peeling from the side, but the next day it has been rubbed off and repainted and Ive lost the picture.
Once the pictures are taken, Hilary loads them onto her computer and plays around with the pattern of them in a grid. I dont change the photo itself, Hilary explains. Theres no fancy tricks, colour enhancement or cropping, but I do like to fiddle around with them in a grid pattern and see which photo looks better where.
Hilary works with a Canon 50D camera with a standard lens Ive already worn out two cameras with overuse! and has a special shoulder strap to carry it as, she explains, wearing a normal strap was leaving her with a sore neck. I can wear my camera for hours a day, and this shoulder strap makes it far more comfortable.
Apart from having her pictures hung in the Watergate Bay Hotel, Hilarys Cornish work is found at The Harbour Gallery, Portscatho and Gallery Latitude 50, St Ives. She also has pictures in Highgate Contemporary Art, London and the Quiddity Fine Art Fairs in Wiltshire, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex. She has occasionally taken on commissions and has produced pictures of spokes, nuts and sprockets found on a vintage car, flower petals and leaves, and paint pigments, for various enthusiasts.
But my real love is boats, Hilary concludes. My mother taught me to take time to look and see extraordinary things, and I capture the one moment in time that is there, and then gone for ever. As long as there are boatyards in Cornwall, I will be there, taking photographs. for more information visit:hilarystock.co.uk