Today I let improvisation control my morning walk. I needed a plant for a friends birthday, a look at an old wooden trawler, which is about to be broken up, and some exercise mixed with a bit of freedom from grant applications. Walking, especially here in Penzance, with the sea an ever present kinetic force, takes me quickly to an appreciation of the strange beauty of the world. The beaches throw up bits of old plastic and rope, weathered and aged into new forms.
On my way back from Newly harbour, where ‘The Excellent’ lies ready for low tide and cutting gear, I went into the art gallery to see ‘What is this place?’ paintings curated by Blair Todd. The work here has been selected because of its spontaneity, something I often fail to incorporate into my process. But failure is all about in this show and I mean that in a good way. None of the artists here are afraid to paint for paintings sake and to make gesture and subject matter more important than accuracy and perfection. They all have an energy as a result, which elevates the subject matter and the final painting. I particularly loved Corinna Spencer’s multiple portraits all morphing and glaring in a slurred manner. Sam Bassett always manages the tightrope between collapse and structure expertly and here there are some fine examples of his mix of graphic shorthand, colour and pathos. Lucy Stein using ideas around ritual and the occultish undertones of West Penwith, hits the mark too. So if you want to improvise, get along to the show £2 and on till the 15th of July.