Studio Gallery: Steven Platt

19th March 2021 - 17th April 2021

Steven Platt


Before the Sea is a collection of paintings that focus on the chalets at Riviere Towans in Hayle.
I grew up in Hayle and spent hours exploring the area, very often finding myself on Riviere Towans, around the chalets and on the beach.

I loved both Design and Art growing up, graduating from Coventry university to start a career in car design. I specialised in interior design and feel incredibly lucky to have been involved in many exciting projects, bringing my initial sketches to life, whether that be for a production, concept or film car. I am drawing every day, for exploring new interior themes or for finalising the smallest production detail.

I still feel very connected with Hayle Towans and still enjoy spending time walking those coastal paths. During my visits, I developed a fascination for the huts in Riviere Towans. Each chalet is different, each has a story, whether that story stretches back to the 1920’s when the chalets were first introduced or whether it is a recent one where contemporary design and materials are introduced. The diversity is what I find really interesting, the ‘DIY’ nature of some, the time warp of architectural fashion on others. It’s clear to identify eras of architectural taste across the whole site from when the chalets were built, or from when they have last been renovated or improved.

I began this series of work with a very open mind, exploring in many different directions. The collection is varied, experimenting with technique and developing how I want to represent my subject matter. I let the painting guide me rather than the other way round. Some of these early examples looking at technique are presented in this exhibition. I found myself being drawn into exploring a more honest viewpoint and not necessarily trying to present an idealised impression of the area through the chalets. With this, I wanted to express a vision of the moments before you arrive to the seascape, how can a seascape be portrayed the moments before you actually get to it fully? What is there, what do you see? It’s the chalets that are the last structures you encounter before being presented with the panoramic seascape that is St Ives Bay, so how might I use them to portray this notion?

I also found myself being drawn to certain types of chalet, those that have been extended and modified slowly over the years with their exteriors coated with hardy render, from a time when this would have been the most practical option for this often harsh environment. The render, of a time, creating texture and detail, weathered over the years, I find fascinating.

So, in a series of paintings in this collection, I decided to zoom right in, just as if you were passing by a chalet to get to the sea. I used almost 2 dimensional views on these sea facing chalets, the architectural lines creating a graphic quality to the compositions. Everyday architectural detailing such as UPVC doors and windows, guttering, drainpipes, outdoor taps and hosepipes have all been used to help create the compositions. I wanted the seascape, the focal point to the area, to be totally obscured by the bold honesty of the chalet, only visible through the door or window or just to the side of the chalet. The texture of the render becomes the predominant surface on the painting, the colours and shadows create a beauty from the practicality, the shadows become nature’s graffiti.

From this series I looked at other viewpoints to portray the notion of ‘Before the Sea’, viewpoints which pull away from focussing on one particular chalet. The moments where the full beauty and power of the sea is just a few seconds away, but still just tantalisingly visible in the composition. Approaching the sea you are often confronted with the backs of the chalets and the evidence of the life within them.

These later paintings are a celebration of the ignored, a finite realism, all of which express an honest reflection of what we all experience, whether we notice it or not.