Followers of art in Cornwall will have all eyes on St Ives this September as eminent St Ives artist Matthew Lanyon unveils his entire year’s work in a major solo exhibition during the celebrated St Ives September Festival.
One of the most exciting and established artists working in Cornwall today, Matthew Lanyon’s upcoming show promises not to disappoint. Held at the award-winning Porthminster Gallery – one of the largest galleries in St Ives in a converted, grade-1 listed pilchard warehouse on the waterfront at Westcott’s Quay – the exhibition will be titled ‘The Listening Sea’, named after one of the exhibition’s show-stopper paintings – an impressive and immersive seven metre-long canvas.
Anyone familiar with St Ives’s extensive art movement both past and present will be familiar with the Lanyon name. Born in 1951 in St Ives, Matthew is the second son of the hugely influential British modernist painter Peter Lanyon. Take a visit to Tate Britain on London’s Milbank and you can be instantly transported to St Ives with Peter Lanyon’s hugely immersive landscapes of the Penwith peninsula on permanent display. Talking about time spent as a child in his father’s studio reveals the undeniable influence his father had on his work but also shares how he views understanding of his own abstract work:
‘Shortly before he died in 1964, as the result of a gliding accident, we spent some days together in his studio making a model aircraft. We made prototype wings out of polystyrene and tried to strengthen them with muslin and glue–size. Years later I read what someone had written about his painting ‘Clevedon Night’, which had these two prototype wings attached to the canvas. They might be ‘boats bobbing up and down’ but I knew what they were. They weren’t boats. But it doesn’t matter whether this was true or not. That isn’t the point – we read our own life into paintings.’
Matthew Lanyon’s paintings, like him, are deeply rooted in Cornwall. Titles such as ‘Godrevy Light’ place Matthew’s work right at the centre of the Penwith landscape. Journeys around the coastline are explored further on canvas, board and glass, often travelling around the edges of the painting itself, spinning ninety-degrees at each turn. A passion for gliding provides a unique viewpoint on this iconic landscape which is reduced further and further in his abstract works, giving prominence to an evolved system of ciphers and symbols used by Matthew as a navigators trail.
Matthew Lanyon began working as a painter in 1988 and has gone on to exhibit extensively in the UK – including the Tate St Ives’ 2007 exhibition ‘Art Now Cornwall’. His reputation as one of the foremost artists in the thriving art scene of Cornwall and, importantly, in the next generation of St Ives Modernists, is shown in the feature of his work in the recently published book ‘Art in Cornwall’ by Michael Bird.
Visitors to St Ives for the September Festival and to Matthew’s show at the Porthminster Gallery will not be disappointed with the company Matthew keeps. The gallery curates shows by the very best contemporary artists currently working in the UK, all influenced by or connected to St Ives. Upcoming highlights of 2015 include a major retrospective by sculptor Margaret Lovell, who first visited St Ives as a young Slade School graduate in the early 1960’s to meet and be mentored by Barbara Hepworth. Moving into the summer months and the large back walls of the gallery will be taken over by the impressive ‘beach geometry’ works of Nick Bodimeade – a highly-anticipated collection of paintings that uniquely capture the physical and sensual elements of a day by the sea.
‘Matthew Lanyon: The Listening Sea’ runs from Saturday 12th September until Saturday 17th October at the Porthminster Gallery, St Ives. The private view for the exhibition will be held on Friday 11th September, 6-8pm – contact the gallery to RSVP. The gallery is also hosting a ‘Meet the Artist’ event with Matthew Lanyon for the St Ives September Festival on Wednesday 16th September, 2 – 3 pm.
To find your perfect place to stay during this prestigious show – not to mention the other events hosted by the town during the St Ives September Festival – browse our range of self catering cottages in St Ives.