Cornish Light at Falmouth Art Gallery



If you know any Cornish folk, you'll know that we're fiercely proud of our heritage and individuality (sometimes with a slight leaning towards exaggeration. I never said that). My non-Cornish other half thinks we're mad. Actually, he probably just thinks I am. He finds it most amusing that I claim Cornwall has its own language (we do), its own tartan (again, we do), and a peculiar, inspiring and unique natural light that isn't found anywhere else (obviously). So I was delighted to go home to Falmouth Art Gallery to see its latest exhibition celebrate this Cornish light I've been adamantly defending.

Cornwall is a peninsula virtually surrounded by water. The bright sunshine reflects off the sea onto the land, which is what has attracted and anchored so many artists to our little part of the world.

Henry Scott Tuke, Study of bathing boys

The artist that springs to mind most prominently when I hear the words 'Cornwall', 'sea' and 'natural light' is Henry Scott Tuke. Many of his works depicted the nude in its various forms, but the paintings are more about the light reflecting off the skin than the skin itself. Some people argue he had love affairs with his subjects. I'd say he had more of a love affair with the light.

William Enelyn Osborn(e), St. Ives Pier (Smeaton's Piter)

In this exhibition Falmouth Art Gallery presents two of its many, many Tukes alongside the works of other masters and contemporary painters. A stand-out piece for me was William Evelyn Osborn(e)'s St. Ives Pier, which shows up frequently at Fal Art Gall. Of the contemporary artists, it was Benjamin Warner and Myles Oxenford who stole the show. You can read more about them both on the Beside the Wave website.

Artists and artistic styles come, go and evolve, but this exhibition celebrates something ever-present: just as the light constantly reflects from sea to land, so it will continue to inspire the artists of Cornwall. And ain't that just lovely?

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