I recently went on a trip to Penzance with my friends Yo and Fenella to the Penlee Gallery. It was an inspiration! Fenella and me outside the Penlee Galery.
Dame Laura Knight’s wonderful paintings were a joy to see but also most surprising. I had not realised that she was a war artist and her painting of the Nuremberg Trials was remarkable. She had apparently been sitting in the BBC broadcasting box above the courtroom and was able to make charcoal drawings of the accused and the lawyers which were to go into the painting. What a marvellous artist she was to be able to get the likeness of some of the most famous, or infamous, men on the planet sitting below her. Her other work was far happier, many of children playing by the sea and her gypsy paintings were a study in colour!
Among the other Newlyn School artists was work by Edwin Harris. A picture painted by him in 1889 called “The Lesson” held me spellbound. I can’t quite work out what it was that caught my attention so completely. Certainly the gentle expression on the teacher’s face but also the painting of the dress and its fabric – such skill.
The Penlee Gallery has asked for people to send them work inspired by anything that they have seen at the gallery. My inspiration took a strange route. As I was remembering the Edwin Harris painting I thought how wonderfully made that dress was and how beautifully it was sewn and today I found myself remaking a blouse. I gave it a bit more shape and sewed on some new pearl buttons which in fact are years old and I found in my mother’s old button tin. I don’t feel I could send them my piece of inspirational sewing!