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Sunday Supplement: St Ives

We Brits are so accustomed to heading down to Gatwick and jetting out to the Mediterranean, the French Countryside or the Aegean Sea for our summer holidays that we forget what we have on our doorstep. It’s not that we can be blamed – look at us now. Mid-June, almost the longest day, and last week we had temperatures in the region of 12 degrees. Last Monday in fact that skies were so dark as they spouted out a continuous torrent of abusively heavy rain that I felt as though apocalypse had fallen. However on the rare occasion that the weather actually behaves in correlation with the seasons, England can do summer holiday like each of its European neighbours.

I love my photo of old women on a bench – so marvellously English

There’s nothing quite like an English summer – Pimms in the garden on a setting sun, when the grass goes slightly dewey and the sunlight dapples on the dinner jackets and ballgowns of attendees to Glyndebourne Opera, or open-air Shakespeare in Regent’s Park; picnics under willow trees, next to ponds quietly humming with the sounds of multi-coloured dragonflies dancing across the surface of lily-pads; and the coast. The English coast is emblematic of old-school summer holidays, as men took out their handkerchiefs and tied knots in the corners to make a hat providing scant protection of their bald-batches, children risked breaking their teeth on a lump of sticky-sweet “rock” complete with writing running through the middle, and others took up exploring in rock-pools searching for crabs and shrimps and other creepy crawlies which lurk in amongst the rocks and seaweed when our extreme tidal system takes the sea way out beyond the beach.

Yes, this IS English sea!

Together with this tradition, you expect to find plenty of seaweed, lots of rocks and stones and a slightly dull tinge to the seawater, making it altogether a more English, slightly less comfortable affair. But last year when I headed down to Cornwall, right at the bottom of our fair nation, I was flabbergasted by the site of such a stunning coastline, with such sapphire-sparkling crystal-clear turquoise waters that I could have been in the Caribbean. No wonder then that the little harbour town of St Ives has proved such an inspiration to generations of artists (Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson being two foremost examples of modern times) that the world-famous Tate Gallery has set up an outpost there.

Well when I stayed last year, I too became inspired by the burst of very mediterranean colours that were all around me and, when I was, ironically, sat in the garden of my family home in Spain on the Mediterranean itself, I took to my canvas and recollected the beauty of what I had seen in Cornwall a few weeks before.

St Ives (Cornwall) (2012 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas, 60 cm x 50 cm)

My painting of Cornwall uses a simple colour palate with fresh oranges, greens and purples, while the turquoise qualities of the sea are reflected in all their beauty. I’ve introduced something of a cubism element when tackling the many rocks which frame the coast and most unusually of all, I’ve actually painted an impression of how the light dappled upon the canvas when I sat painting it in my parents’ garden, with the light cast through the intricate mesh of the jasmine tree. In this way I have forever captured a St Ives imbued with the light of the Med where I was inspired to paint it.

Detail of the harbour (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

Detail of the town and lifeboat pier (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

In addition, take a look at this little gallery of some of my photos from St Ives so you can see what inspired it.

Have an amazing Sunday.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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