The evolution of ones own art is a strange thing.
This past week I visited the beautiful seaside town of Polperro on the enchanting south coast of Cornwall. Having had no prior idea as to where I wanted to take the family for an ad hoc 6 night break, I trawled the web for images of pretty Cornish harbours, towns and villages before I finally stumbled across Polperro. Immediately I was captivated by it’s narrow cobbled streets, the whitewashed cottages that bowed over the crystal clear waters of the harbour and the phthalo blue skies overhead. ‘That’s it! It’s perfect! Let’s book it!’ I shouted ..and we did. A week away in what turned out to be a tiny cottage sat so close to the waters edge that I could have helped moor a boat from the window. We packed and a few days later we set off on the 4 hour journey from our home on the edge of Gower.
When we arrived and finally squeezed the car through the narrow winding streets we had a little time to take it all in. The week brought traditional Cornish wind and rain (though being a hardy Welsh lass it’s not something I shy away from). We spent evenings in front of the wood fire, sat in the window overlooking the water and listening to the gentle chit chat of the moored trawlers as they rose and dipped in unison on an undulating tide. When the light returned I wandered, sketchbook in hand through the snaking streets looking for anything worthy of a 10 minute bit of inking.. there where few corners of this great fishing village escaped ‘the pen’.
It was during this time that I realised something quite poignant about Polperro and subsequently, my own art. I had travelled to this famous harbour expecting to see unparalleled beauty. Clean white houses, boats lining the old stone walls, galleries and little back street cafes oozing with the smell of Cornish baked goods and coffee. What I had was a clutter of rusted boats dressed in chipped paint and weighed heavy with battered buoys, rope and chains, weather worn cottages and the smell of a closed fishing market on the breeze. Now don’t be mistaken in thinking that this is a negative description of Polperro – on the contrary – this is EXACTLY what it is I loved about the place. The working harbour that so many tourists frequent during the warm summer months is stripped bare come winter; a time when it’s true character breaks through. The result was a staggeringly beautiful place steeped in history, the cogs of which are turned by the hard working fishing folk who live there.
As I sat and sketched the broken boats, the empty holiday lets and listened to the seagulls overhead, something struck me..
The preconceived idea I had about ‘beauty’ (in a harbour sense) couldn’t have been further from the truth. I loved the gritty atmosphere I was presented with, the stained walls and the muted winter colours that saturated everything. It was only at that point that I realised the direction my work needed to move forward in. For years I’ve produced large vibrant pieces that oozed colour and are outlined by bold black acrylic. Don’t get me wrong, I love painting in this style and it reflects my personality.. but, seeing the gnarly beauty of a winter in Polperro made me realise that what I’d been searching for in my work was something a little less ‘pretty pretty’. Something less perfect in it’s colour and a little less picturesque. The sketches I inked during my stay are ready for this new phase of painting. This is by no means a new concept or idea, rather something I’ve been searching for, for sometime and what it took was a week submerged in that grainy atmosphere to realise it. Over the next few weeks the plan is to get this style out into the world. It will still be recognisable as my work, but with a stripped back feel, a lot more texture and a richer quality to each piece.
From the beginning of 2017 I really felt like there was going to be a change, something in the air told me that I’d be taken down new paths and the thought of that is an exciting one. Alongside a sketchbook primed with rough images and a camera filled with photographs of this remarkable place, I really am raring to go. All that’s left to do now is paint.
p.s – If you’re interested in seeing more images from my time in Polperro you can check out my Instagram account: @moogledoo and follow me on Twitter (@moogledoo) for updates. Enjoy!