Susan Thomas

26th August 2022 - 25th September 2022

Preview: Friday 26th August 17:30 onwards, all welcome!

“From my mid-teens I knew I wanted to do something creative, with set design an original plan and then graphic design, before Edinburgh School of Art known at the time for its emphasis on drawing skills, introduced me to Furniture Design. A BA in 3-Dimensional Design at Leeds followed, and an Msc. in Sustainable Architecture much later.

It was only when I ‘ran away to St Ives’ 8 years ago now, that I found the time and space to revive the exiting and creative ways of thinking that I experienced as an art student.

Charcoal drawings You will notice there are a lot of drawings – which is a joy to do, finding a perch on a street corner or an easel on the beach with my back against Smeaton’s wall, charcoal on a step nearby and fixative at the ready before smudgy black fingers make their involuntary marks. I find you have to really, really know what you are seeing in order to draw it.

These images are often honed and usually simplified during the process of painting in the studio – now a delightful and ancient building in Norway Square.

‘A Day on the Beach’ time spent on Porthmeor Beach generally has a rhythm of its own with long days devoted to ‘whim and fancy’ creating either a total sense of relaxation or surprising bursts of activity. Whether the beach is full of windbreaks or completely empty even of seagulls, the drama of the weather, the incoming tide and daily sunset is compelling.

Parallel to my love of this aspect of St Ives is the knowledge that this wonderful place – its apparent permanence over long periods of time and reliance on granite as a building material – is in reality fragile.

It has with withstood the pounding of the ocean onto its shores for eons, fish has been hauled into boats, minerals hard won from its mines. However, we know we are in a position of transition – we look around us and recognise that change, which has always happened, is both accelerating and becoming more significant.

‘The Sea Takes a Bite’ is in response to a storm a while ago now which scoured and exposed a new face on the island – no longer the softer surfaces covered in plants with their roots helping to bind the surfaces. This newly exposed material is strikingly different in colour and texture, being the brown of bare earth with clear lines of the different strata of rock and stones left sticking out precariously waiting for the next erosion by wind and waves.

‘Does It Matter’ (zig zag of postcards) is part of a large collection of photographs taken over two years as I walked (with my dog), the streets and beaches of the Downalong area.  Each time a scrap of plastic or waste was noticed it was photographed before being picked up and kept safely for display. Very often these apparently inconsequential scraps were near drains or beaches and would have inevitably found their way into the sea, becoming a destructive part of our marine environment.

‘The Little Lane by Barbara Hepworth’s House’ For a while, I had a studio just down the cobbled lane from Barbara Hepworth’s house and during that time my focus changed. I was ‘taken’ by the lane and the large wall that surrounds her garden – which had become both my walk to work and the view from the studio window. It was majestic in the same way  Porthmeor Beach is and I was captivated. I studied it intently, first standing in the street doing numerous pencil drawings to get it fixed in my ‘eye’ and then charcoal drawings, some of the larger ones worked on upstairs in the studio until finally working on the paintings.

‘The Sea is Rising’ (postcard) is a recent digital adaptation of work done around 2 years ago (originally shown at a joint exhibition at the Penwith Gallery). It was part of a series of 8 paintings shown as a block, using strongly dissimilar colours – reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s screen prints of Marilyn Monroe in the 60’s. This particular painting was entitled ‘red hot’ and it is hoped that this re-purposing re-enforces the need to make our voices heard, to take action in fact, on behalf of our planet.

‘Why/Why Not?’ Simply a container full of empty plastic water bottles collected over just two weeks in Norway Square, and an example of the alternative. Each plastic bottle produces 0.08 grammes of carbon. The manufacture of the long lasting, food safe, stainless steel version is certified carbon neutral and uses readily available water from any tap. The calculated total amount of carbon produced by the plastic bottles is?

I hope you find something enjoyable, and thought provoking during your time in the Gallery.

Take care of both yourself and our precious planet.”

Susan Thomas