Ian Harrold | Artist | Maker
Primarily a painter in oils near to the north coast of Cornwall, creating works which are abstract yet inspired by the landscape of Cornwall, the far South West being his adopted home of 30 years. Originally a goldsmith, after a long career in TV he is now working in the fine arts including painting, printmaking and sculpture.
His work in oils is process driven, additive episodic periods are intesrpersed with reductive sessions. layers of paint having been initially laid down quickly are then slowly removed sometimes in selected areas but more usually in a broadcast manner. In addition to the conventional attributes of colour, form and tone the physical topographical character of the surface of the work is utilized to create the final composition. Very often the original colour of the paint is lost and the texture created is used to hold another colour entirely. The layers of paint are combined by applying huge pressure to the surface and are cut back using mechanical and chemical means. Often the works are completed with a splash of white, a punctuation mark. Then perhaps an acid or alkali wash of the surface to shift the hue before final levelling to achieve a uniform finish. The series can then be 'released into the wild'.
Wash House Press | What's in a name?
A tranformative move to rural North Cornwall
Ian and Penni had lived in the city or thereabouts for 28 years, working in the world of broadcast TV throughout. As he often remarked - "I quite enjoy pedalling up the hard shoulder of the Digital Superhighway"
The couple had discovered what can only be described as a rural idyll, A grade 2* listed cottage built by Sir Edwin Lutyens in North Cornwall situated a mile from the nearest road in one of the darkest locations in England, with a wash house in the front garden to match. This of course became the workshop, previously serving the three cottages it had many of the original fittings, and all of the charm. The wash house is now equipped for painting, printmaking with an etching press which weighs nearly half a tonne plus small-scale metalwork for sculptural pieces.
The North Coast | Secret Cornwall?
A gentle rural landscape giving way to the "Iron Bound Coast"
Living and working close to Launceston, the ancient county town of Cornwall, the yearly Charles Causley literary festival is impossible to ignore. His poetry speaks of the place. Walking the back lanes of this forgotten corner of Cornwall one sees and hears echoes of his words;
The Seasons in North Cornwall
O Spring has set off her green fuses
Down by the Tamar today,
And careless, like tide-marks, the hedges,
Are bursting with almond and may.
Here lie I waiting for old summer,
A red face and straw-coloured hair has he:
I shall meet him on the road from Marazion
And the Mediterranean Sea.
September has flung a spray of rooks
On the sea-chart of the sky,
The tall shipmasts crack in the forest
And the banners of autumn fly
My room is a bright glass cabin,
All Cornwall thunders at my door,
And the white ships of winter lie
In the sea-roads of the moor.
The 'Iron Bound Coast' became a favourite attraction for Ian, the cliffs and coves south west of Crackington Haven have names which ring in the imagination - 'High Cliff' and 'The Strangles' spring to mind. Just a short distance away is Beeny Cliff, made famous by Thomas Hardy in his poem of the same name;
O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me...
It took a while for Ian to come to rest in the far south west of England. In the beginning an education at Gateway Technical Grammar School in Leicester (1966-73) laid the foundation for Ian’s work today. The school was one of the first in the country to embrace the full range of applied arts and crafts as well as fine art. Ian enjoyed all of these and thrived in this creative environment which he felt was made for him. The approach to the individual disciplines echoed very much the ethos of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, built around a skills based attitude depending on the application of 'process' in all things.
His Quaker headmaster encouraged a keen interest in all things creative, recognizing that a students range of talents might not be only academic. This led, with the Heads direct support, to a coveted place on a four-year arts course specialising in silversmithing and jewellery at the iconic Sir John Cass School of Art in Whitechapel, London (1973–77). The course was rigorous, hard and uncompromising yet allowed the possibility of diversions into museum drawing under the guidance of Bert Kitchen, life drawing and the use of the fine art facilities.
Whilst at Cass, the Whitechapel Art Gallery nearby provided part-time employment under Nicholas Serota, and introduced Ian to the world of fine art, with exhibitions by Walter Pichler, Gilbert and George, and in particular British Minimalism epitomised by a major retrospective by Bob Law, who lived at Nancledra, St Ives, and was a major influence in the art scene there.
Jewellery and Silver | Ebony, silver and bone | 1978
Exhibited at Goldsmiths Hall, London | Featured in Crafts Magazine
Ian worked first as a Production Manager for Cartier in New Bond Street, reponsible for overseeing customer orders, the relationship with all of the traditional workshops of the West End Trade and for maintaining the gold stock which included all of the historic Cartier collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco works. Also, as a silversmith and goldsmith he successfully created and sold his own work in the 80’s, exhibiting with the Goldsmiths Company and Electrum Gallery.
To Say Goodbye | Feature length animated film | 2012
Screened at the San Sebastian International Fim Festival
Plastic Pollution Project | An Infographic Film | 2013/14
A self funded film distributed worldwide
He decided on shooting high resolution stills of a long section of the beach from the promenade, before examining the whole section, taking copious notes of the evidence. The result was the short film above, the story being told through bespoke 2D and 3D graphics.
Multi-plate Etchings | Wash House Press | 2016
Exhibited at Press Gang, Penwith Gallery, St Ives
Oils on Board | Wash House Press | 2016 - 2022
Exhibited at the Penwith and Porthminster Galleries, St Ives
Soon he was drawn back to working in oils, on gessoed board which provides a robust base for the techniques he uses. Ian creates all his earth coloured paints from raw earth powder pigments acquired in London in the 70’s, a wise use of his college grant at the time. These hand-made paints are then mixed and layered with other oils in varying consistencies. As layers dry, they are partially removed using a variety of methods to work back through the layers – including applying pressure to the surface, effectively pushing the top layers back through the work, visually disrupting the order of the layers of paint.
This process has no fixed duration with many of the pieces emerging from the workshop often after more than a year, as passing stimuli prompt an evolution of the individual series and it's original theme. Works can be inspired by distant memories of time and place or the simple fluidity of a shape quickly drawn in wet sand on a Cornish or Breton beach.
2022 | Moving Forward
A New Direction
Ian has spent the last few years immersed in paint, in learning more about the nature of oil paint, fitting its properties, idiosyncrasies, and restictions to the images seen in his minds eye. The stimulus for the work is drawn from deep in his creative roots, surprise and delight being found in the possibilities of the ancient medium. The same approach that he adopted in his graphic work of the 30 years he found could be employed with oils. That is, breaking the challenges down into smaller pieces, picking off the elements which appeared more familiar, building and ordering a sort of library held in suspension, allowing for other forces to exert their influence over time. Time proved to be his accomplice. The process of laying down paint then removing parts of it proved satisfying, leaving a series of works alone to partially or completely dry, enabled him to become engaged with other works and when returning to the series it could be dealt with afresh - each process could be conceived and executed with little reference to what had gone before. The principle of "it seemed a good idea at the time" proved to be pivotal to the development of the images. He learnt to trust his response, his instincts. Often when cutting back through many layers of paint his original thoughts and intentions at various stages are revealed. Little is wasted.
It is mid December in North Cornwall. Quiet descends once more, most of the visitors have gone and everyone has been, yet again, told to work from home. Ian's wash house has been rearranged, the oil paints packed away, unfinished paintings wrapped and stored in the barn. The half tonne etching press has been moved out into a better position for work and new materials are in evidence. Clay, plaster of Paris, beeswax, paper, Japanese tissue paper, moulding paste, metals (various), and string are ready.
Naval Air Station | Alameda | Oakland
Inspiration | ©Google Earth
Back in 2017 Ian bought a large etching press weighing nearly half a tonne from Jenny Devereux, a printmaker in the far west of Penwith. He restored the press - new bushes and guides, stripped down, regreased. He then started to paint in oils in ernest. It is now time to use the press, there is a stack of large steel plates ready for etching. Again - we will see...
The workshop facilities have been extended for the winter of 2023/4 to include more metalworking, including small-scale sandcasting, milling, and lathe work. Small sculptures will eventually emerge...
2023 | New old ways
Signposts | A Library of Forms
Waymarkers, symbols, talismans perhaps? A lexicon of creative thought collected, ordered, re-imagined. Connections re-made.
Recent Exhibitions include:
Summer Collection, Porthminster Gallery, St Ives, summer 2022
Penwith Rhythms, Porthminster Gallery, St Ives, autumn 2021
Sea Stories, Porthminster Gallery, St Ives, spring/summer 2021
Renewal, Porthminster Gallery, St Ives, spring/summer 2020
Two Man Show with Chris Waring, Willoughby Gallery, Bude, late spring 2019;
New Beginnings: Inspiration, Porthminster gallery, St Ives, spring 2019;
St Ives: The New Pier, New Perspectives, Willoughby Gallery, Bude, 2018;
Take 5 Artists, Crypt Gallery, Society of Artists, St Ives, 2017;
Associates Exhibitions, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, throughout 2016–20;
Press Gang – The Art of Printmaking, Penwith Gallery, St Ives, 2016;
Spring Exhibitions, Limekiln Gallery, Calstock, 2015 & 2016.
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