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Monday, 24 August 2009

St Ives School

I am now back from my staycation. Eyewear's policy is to not spend too much time on the merely personal details of my "private life", but I will say it was a welcome break. Penzance and St Ives are marvellous places to visit - the people are very warm, the pace is slow, the beaches as beautiful and clean as on the Med (more so), the light fascinating, and the culture and food (often the freshest of seafood) are excellent.

Next year we'll bring wetsuits - the sea was 12 degrees most days, which made swimming for too long a challenge, though we did our best. Also enjoyable was the hammering deep into the sand of special gayly-coloured windscreens. Watching the families play cricket and other ball games together, and the many children timelessly building their little engineering projects against the waves, was moving. It was possible to form a sense of what an "ideal" Britain might be, one guided by play and simpler pleasures. August is a kind of heaven.

The Barbara Hepworth Museum is one of the best of its kind, anywhere in the world - her sub-tropical garden filled with extraordinary modernist scuplture; and the Tate St Ives is also impressive, from its sea-view, to its collection of the St Ives School - that major moment in modern art where the local and the international came together, as did an interest in nature and the abstract. No wonder WS Graham (and other poets) found so much to inspire them in Cornwall. Our own rental place was in Carbis Bay, right near where Ben Nicholson and Hepworth had lived in the 40s and 50s; and indeed, 1959 was the 50th anniversary of the visit of Rothko to St Ives. I am looking forward to thinking more about St Ives art in future, in relation to British poetics.
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