News Round-up 19/11/13–Festivals, Portraits & a Call to Arms

Posted: November 19, 2013 by Lee in editorial, news

Port Eliot Festival 2014Tickets have already gone on sale for the 2014 Port Eliot Festival, available on a first-come, first-served basis, numbers are limited. Now in its 10th year, the Port Eliot Festival has begun to attract some major literary figures and has become something of a feature on the British (Londoner?) festival circuit. It would be nice to see a little more Cornish focus from the festival organised by the man who once lead Cornish interests in parliament though (also unsuccessfully urging Cornwall for Parliament in the war of the five peoples and amicably leaving it to the Royalists thereafter).

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In my first post here, in a wide-ranging editorial, I wrote that “Cornwall became famous for its art in the nineteenth and, especially, twentieth centuries largely through the effect of incoming (mainly English) artists.  Over time, there were Cornish artists among their number too, such as Walter Langley (John Opie is probably the most famous Cornish painter, but predates this period and worked largely outside of Cornwall as a portraitist).”

Well, not all of those portraits were entirely unconnected with Cornwall. A new(?) Opie painting was recently discovered and, concerning a Cornish subject, will be exhibited at Falmouth Art Gallery for two years from April 2014, thereby allowing the public free access to it. David Carter has written a short book concerning the discovery and restoration of this important Cornish portrait by Opie. The sitter, about whom little was known, came from Falmouth and led a very interesting life, spanning the 18th and 19th centuries. The blurb for the book describes it thus:

An enigmatic gaze from a young girl in a neglected portrait, obscured by a veil of yellowed varnish, reached out to a dealer in Cornish art when it was spotted in a Midlands saleroom. The artist was John Opie, the 18th century self-taught "Cornish Wonder", who was famously described by Sir Joshua Reynolds as being "like Caravaggio and Velazquez in one". This monograph describes the exciting discovery and careful restoration of a portrait which can now rightfully claim it’s place as a Cornish masterpiece. It reaches into the murky depths of history to shed light on the remarkable life of the sitter, Lydia Gwennap, and takes us from her humble roots in Cornwall to the fashionable environs of London during an age of important social and cultural reform. Lydia was a true daughter of Falmouth, and finally, some 240 years after her birth, her story can be told. . .

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Finally, it’s been a while since we’ve run with the image below, or repeated our plea but it does bear repeating.

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Amazingly, little more than eighteen months into our existence, Cornish Literature now gets visited daily by people from across the world. We’re lucky to have several people who write freely for the website but they are all busy with other work and cannot give up any more of their precious time than they already do. It has always been the intention of Cornish Literature that it should be community driven – fostering a community of people to promote and debate the written word in Cornwall. This can be done in the comments under each article but we also always welcome new writers of news, feature and review pieces.

If you would like to write for us then please do get in touch via the instructions on the ‘About’ page. In particular, if there is a book that you would like to review for Cornish Literature then please let us know; we’re quite often offered copies of books for review, including the Carter book mentioned above, that we sadly have to decline owing to the constraints of lives and other work.

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