Reflective Journal Week 27, 29 Mar – 4 Apr 2020

Sunset Safari above St Ives

This watercolour painting is based on my previous experience in west Cornwall. It is a development on my understanding of Peter Lanyon’s desire of viewing Cornish natural sceneries from a detached perspective. Sometimes the contradiction of limited time in Cornwall caused a radical emotion of possessiveness, a hope of seizing these landscapes perpetually after searching for the very best of them. 

It is fascinating how the art-appreciate tradition of Cornwall was developed. Artists have been flooding in since Turner, Daniell and Farington’s journey in its pre-colony era. They eagerly searched for strange landscapes over this far-reach land. A remote, small town of St Ives, yet attracted artists all over the world to enhance its regional cultural status, eventually made it another art centre except London in early 20th Century.

What is the magic about this land? A lot of questions waited to be answered. 

Finally, the painting has been finished. 

Also, with the help of my tutor Geraint Evans, and Miss Ana Teles, the methodology, ethnical dimension  indicative final outcome has been finished. 

Methodology

  1. Researching movements that helped developed regional identities, for example, the Barbizon School, the Hudson River School and the Newlyn School; Compare and investigate how images of a particular landscape can be used to define an identity – local or national. 
  2. Studying historical contexts from which those environments were cultivated to support the development of regional movements, with an emphasis on Cultural Conservatism’s preservation of a lifestyle and Romanticism’s discussion about the relationship between human and nature. 
  3. The Cornish identity will be investigated through its history of the art regarding relevant movements and societies, from pre-colony era to the highest of Cornish art in the 20th century, leading up to contemporary practices and debates. 
  4. Reflecting critically on the question and challenging the topic with methods including but not limited to painting, writing and photography. Painting is proposed to be the primary approach. Landscape and portrait painting will be engaged in order to explore the relationship between carriers of the regional culture and the macroscopical environment. 
  5. Field trips to Cornwall that include interviewing and communicating with relevant art professionals. Question and investigate Cornish identity through art. Analysing the difference in recognising Cornish landscapes by indigenous people and visitors. 
  6. The project will be a practice-based project but consist of a large proportion of sociologic research. 

Ethical Dimension of the Research 

Some would argue I cannot represent Cornish due to my ethnic origin. However, Cornish field of art has a tradition of being diverse, touring artists who could be considered as visitors pillared its development. Cornwall-based artist Andy Harper stated that residence is not necessarily decisive for being described as a Cornish artist in an interview I conducted with him (Harper, 2020). As a matter of fact, many artists that have relocated in the county are recognised as Cornish due to their contributions to the local culture. Many examples proved this adoption of identity when one’s work can be recognised by the market, the academy and professionals in the field simultaneously. 

Final Outcomes

1. A thesis which discusses the question critically. It will introduce an investigation of how Cornish culture is related to the landscape. 

2. A series of physical works that critically challenge the topic. It will combine an idealised perspective as a visitor who was enchanted by Cornish culture and landscape with a relatively objective angle as an academic outsider. It will be graphics-based, likely series of paintings produced with various materials and techniques. 

3. A visual carrier on which physical works can be properly displayed while comprehensively explaining the research. It may be a video or a book, with online accessibility. 

I was briefed that the first year of the research programme (if a place was offered) will be a repeating edit of the research proposal, which means there could be a fluctuation of physical work’s proportion in the final outcome. In order to achieve a contribution to knowledge honestly and decently, I am afraid I cannot settle the nature of this proposal yet.

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.