Wednesday, 28 March 2007
And so one isn't an oddity, but just another chap rushing out in overalls to buy some more files at the nearest shop. St. Ives has absolutely enraptured me, not merely for its beauty, but the naturalness of life... The sense of community is, I think, a very important factor in an artist's life.
Barbara Hepworth – 1970
Cornwall was fab: from the tiny little fisherman's cottage we stayed in built right on the edge of a cliff, to the amazing land and seascapes, to the pretty little towns and villages and to St. Ives where lies the Tate and, best of all, Barbara Hepworth's studio and garden. Bursting with over twenty-five years worth of sculptural progress this was the highlight of the holiday. Here was the live/work space of someone who lived a truly authentic life. And it was possible to see, through her work, how she had reached that exalted state: she had the good fortune to find herself in a town that suited her character, interests and way of working. And she then set about making the most of her luck. It all, then, came together to create glorious harmonious sculptures that seem to be the work of genius but could just as easily be seen as the products of contingency and sweat. If she'd ended up living in Wakefield – where she was born – would she have produced such beauty? I guess it's impossible to say but one feels the answer would be no, especially given the quote above.
It seems to me that that sense of community she talks about, that feeling of fit, is something we all need, and to an extent it is just good luck if we get it. It is, of course, possible to go out and look for it but I think whether a place is right probably isn't evident immediately. So one could find one self kind of semi-settling in somewhere only to realise this isn't the place after all and having to move on again. One could, indeed, never find it and be constantly moving on. One may even, in one's desperation to find the place one fits into, not notice when one has found it. And, of course, most of us have commitments that prevent us from moving from place to place anyway: lovers, children, jobs or whatever. How nice it would be, though, to find and be able to settle into the place where one is able to thrive. I wonder how many of us ever do.