Monday, 4 February 2013

From Under the Sea, James Clarke Hook, 1864
There can't be too many Cornish pasties in art history but this is rather a fine one with a beautifully crimped edge. And I did wish that I had arrived feeling properly hungry at this exhibition at Two Temple Place because they had wonderful pasties in the café and I only had room for cake.

A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach, Stanhope Forbes, 1885
I've seen this painting many times before but it stands head and shoulders above everything else in the exhibition and I never fail to be entranced the by clear Cornish light and the wet sand. Forbes wrote to his mother, I am painting a very large picture again this year, quite different to anything I have ever done and with hardly one touch of blue in it and it is giving me a woeful lot of trouble. There will be lots of girls in it, fish fags we call them here, fish boats, sea, sky etc.

The curator is a young PhD student and I got rather frustrated by her catalogue which heroicises the workforce and relegates the art to mere labour-history painting. I don't think for a second that the artists considered themselves to be Amongst Heroes or gave a stuff about the fish fags other than as picturesque subjects who inconveniently fainted when you painted them on freezing cold beaches in winter. Forbes thought Newlyn was 'a dirty hole'; Dod Procter had been known to wallop street boys who plagued her when she was painting outdoors in Brittany, and I don't suppose Newlyn boys were any less pesky. And the proper Methodist locals would have been scandalised by the artists' wilder shenanigans.

Never mind ... what I was really there for was a chance to be inside that magnificent building and I sat for a while in the hall just looking. And I love the idea of bringing paintings from provincial galleries for an outing to London. There was one that hasn't been seen in public since it was attacked by Suffragettes (though I'm not sure why the Suffragettes took exception to it.)

Do try to get to see this if you're in London between now and April 14, because the building is simply stunning - and it's free to get in. It also gets my vote for the best art gallery tea in town. (Lavender scones. Blood orange polenta cake. Miles better than you'll get from ubiquitous, chain bakers  Peyton&Byrne at the Manet exhibition.) Maybe I should start a Campaign for Culture and Cake. CamCak?

9 comments:

Mac n' Janet said...

Love the painting and I'm with you about the curator. My husband paints and they're not visions of social justice, they're paintings.

mary said...

I think my trouble is that I'd love to have her job, Janet. If only I'd realised that was when I was 20!

Toffeeapple said...

I have long adored 'Fish Sale' thank
you for reminding me about it.

mary said...

It's lovely, isn't it, Toffeeapple? Makes you feel the water under your toes. That painting certainly gets around, I saw it in another exhibition last year.

Cosy Books said...

Camcak...definitely! Where do I sign up?

My next trip over will have to sync better with Two Temple Place and their schedule. The atmosphere...the cake, it all sounded so tempting and then they go and close on me, hmpff.

mary said...

You'd love it, Darlene. There's another exhibition next year but was still under wraps yesterday.
You are, of course, a founder member of CamCak. That goes without saying. In fact you can be president of CamCakCan, would that suit?

Cosy Books said...

Hahaha, yes please! Now I must go and dig out my recipe for Maple Syrup Drizzle Cake...

Gina said...

That painting is exquisite. Thanks for flagging up the exhibition which I will certainly try to get to see.... especially if there is good cake involved!

mary said...

It's worth going just for the building, GIna, if you've never been inside.