Cornwall’s artists go online with virtual exhibitions
PUBLISHED: 13:21 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:21 10 June 2020
Delamore Art’s annual festival switches to an online event with some of Cornwall’s best-loved artists taking part
Anyone who knows Looe will have seen the work of Cornish sculptor, Suzie Marsh.
Suzie was commissioned to make the life-size sculpture of Nelson the Seal on Pennyland Rocks in Looe Harbour. The sculpture, cast in bronze, was unveiled in 2008 in honour of Nelson, a much-loved ‘resident’ of Looe for more than 20 years until he died in 2003.
“I went to see him last October and he has gone a lovely colour,” said Suzie. “And someone had put a scarf around his neck to keep him warm, which was lovely. He has become something of a focal point in Looe – he is even featured on fridge magnets!”
Suzie only ever sculpts animals, working in clay in her studio in Delabole and then casting the pieces in bronze resin or foundry bronze. She uses her work to help support three animal charities: Animal Asia, the Turgwe Hippo Trust in Zimbabwe, and The Cats Protection League.
This year, she has been particularly busy preparing for two major exhibitions – one in support of Animal Asia, and Delamore Arts at Cornwood on Dartmoor in May. The month-long event – usually held in the house and gardens on the Delamore Estate – has been switched to an online event, as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. It means that people will still be able to view all the exhibits at the 18th annual exhibition, by visiting the Delamore Arts website, where the online catalogue is available from mid-April.
Organisers of the selling exhibition recognise that potential buyers may want to see work ‘in the flesh’ and hope to be able to organise something on a case by case basis. It is hoped that an exhibition might be possible later this year, depending on the situation.
Delamore Arts has been an annual event since 2003 – and Suzie has exhibited at every single one of them. This year, she is one of several Cornish artists and sculptors whose work is showcased online.
Suzie is lucky in having her very own models for some of her sculptures – her four cats, Phoebe, Bella, Banjo and Jaspurr; “The reason I sculpt animals is because I love them, they are important to me,” says Suzie. “And I like to bring character to an animal, to really show them as they are. With the wild animals, I always show them as gentle.”
There is a charming connection between Suzie and South Petherwin acrylic artist, Roger Pyke. Roger used to be a driver for a nationwide delivery firm, and he would often be despatched to Suzie’s to collect her latest work and deliver it to its new owner.
Roger has always painted in his spare time, but his life changed completely when a bout of flu in 1997 left him with extreme fatigue. He continued to work through it but eventually had to give up his job in 2014 when he was taken to Derriford Hospital after collapsing. It was then that he was diagnosed with chronic ME.
Although it means he now has the time to paint, he has to work in short bursts while he has the energy: “I’ve had to adapt the way I paint,” says Roger, who is donating 20 per cent of all sales this year to the charity, Invest in ME Research. “The fatigue affects the brain, so even mixing colours has become almost impossible. Banksy is one of my inspirations and I used to paint in a similar way many years ago. So, I thought: ‘Why don’t I go back to that style again, largely monochrome with splashes of colour’?”
Roger took 12 months to complete Aston by Truro Cathedral, which reflects his love of architecture, buildings and angles: “I enjoy painting old mine buildings, too,” he said. “But it was only when I started to research my family tree that I discovered my great, great, great grandfather was a mine captain and engineer. Perhaps that explains my love of the tin mines – it runs in the family!”
From Cornish tin, to Cornish slate – Bude sculptor Stacey Beaumont works with reclaimed Delabole slate, to which she adds coloured glass, fossils and mosaics made from beach finds such as sea glass and pottery. Among her pieces this year is Portal, an inverted triangle shape with deep red glass.
Another new piece is Wolf Moon, where Stacey sought to create a sculpture with ‘a lighter, more ethereal quality’ which is fitting for the moon. “As my sculptures are made from very heavy reclaimed Delabole slate, this is not the easiest idea I’ve ever had,” says Stacey. “But the effect of carving out the edges of the sculpture and linking the flow of slate on either side of the glass, means that it looks as though the moon is drifting in a misty cloud with its own sprinkling of stars.” u
This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Cornwall Life