I had this idea that I would do all the hiking I wanted to do during the summer months and then spend winter working back in the studio. For so many reasons that simply didn’t work, not least because waiting that long to get started in making work in response to the glory of the South West Coast Path was impossible. Instead I have been balancing hikes with studio time. Wonderfully that means I have been hiking during this spectacular autumn and the start of our winter. This week I ventured into Cornwall to visit St. Ives…
I had two days in the area, one to hike and one to explore the town. Unsurprisingly (considering it was the last days of November) the weather forecast was for high winds and heavy rains. Luckily for me the weather decided to only partially follow these instructions.
St. Ives is a stunning fishing town that has been home, inspiration and creative hub to many of the world’s best artists. Looking out over Porthmeor Beach is Tate St. Ives, which has dedicated much of its space to exploring and showcasing these incredible figures, their relationships with each other and with the surrounding land. Somewhere among the gorgeous cobbled lanes and independent galleries is Barbara Hepworth’s house and gardens, now a museum of the highest quality. After a morning of exploring these gems I had a mind full of ideas without yet having set foot on the cliffs stretching out above and away from town.
The next morning dawned wet and windy but by the time I got off the bus at the Zennor Turn the wind was already blowing the clouds away. By the end of the day the sky was clear blue. Heading into Zennor I started my day contemplating the 400 year old erotic mermaid carving in the church and the legend that accompanies it. It is a fantastic story that raises a lot of questions.
The coast path was as easy to find as always, and as easy to follow though this section has far less signposts and far more climbing over rocks that others. The wind was churning the winter turquoise sea bellow and the waves crashing against the cliffs were so large I spent much of the day with sea spray in my far. This is a remote, unpopulated and exceptional section of the path, and the rocks, colours and shapes collided with the art of the previous day in my mind resulting in itchy fingers and the desire to get messy making work.
These two days are the perfect example of everything I would have missed had kept my hiking restrained to the warm summer days. I cannot wait to step out again now it is December. One more hike before the year comes to a close? Yes please.