Through the lanes of Cornwall

It was one of those days that you just don’t want to come to an end. A sunny, relaxed day with no deadlines.

We first drove from the Lizard to the Drift Reservoir through some amazing lanes. They are so tiny that it can take your breath away to sit in the car with a local!

At Drift we started the real fun. To be honest, I had no clue where we were going even though the itinerary had been shown to me several times….somewhere nearby there were supposed to be the remains of an Iron Age settlement, so I religiously followed my ‘guide’ and just enjoyed the landscape. I was also excited because I knew that it was Cornwall’s Open Studios week, so I was sure we would stumble into one sooner or later!

According to one of the locals who ran a gallery for nearly 10 years, studios in Cornwall are at least twice as many as those that are opened under this initiative. The most established artists don’t really need the exposure offered by the Open Studios programme so, for the most part, you meet very talented young artists.

But before we got anywhere near art, we went uphill for a long, looong time. Through an imprecation and an energy bar, we cycled off-road following some hidden signs leading to the remains, until we reached a site that had not a stone in sight! Disappointed? Perhaps. Although the view was amazing! Izumi Omori, later told us that this site has a very special energy, but more of this later.

Back on the bikes after a few pictures, my legs started to ache so I stopped for a stretch, turned around and saw the first sign: it was Coralie‘s studio.We reached her gorgeous cottage and were welcomed by her dogs. As we went inside the studio I was immediately driven to the lovely sketches that lay on the piano. Elephants, cats, birds…Coralie explained that she was raised in Kenya and came to the UK only more recently, bringing back with her fond memories of animals. Looking closer around the studio, I noticed some ceramics too. I fell in love with this little horse as soon as I saw it, it’s a calming object, very tactile and beautiful to look at.

Since I could not carry it with me on our journey, I decided to let the idea of buying it sit in my mind for a bit longer.

After checking the map and making sure that we stopped chasing Iron Age remains that never materialised, our journey continued towards St Just, with the promise of some local beer and fish for lunch. However, I spotted another studio shortly after and, to my guide’s joy, insisted to go in.

Meeting Izumi was like visiting an old friend, she was incredibly welcoming and we discovered to have more in common than we would have expected. A passion for Sicily was the first, being a self-taught artist the second, a love for London the third, followed by numerous others in addition to choosing to live in a foreign country. Izumi has traveled extensively to study the works of artists in museums around the world, she never went to art school but observed the masters and found her own style. Entering her studio, I was visually inundated by a beautiful wave of colours. Her paintings and prints evoke fairies and dreamy worlds, combining inspiration from Cornish landscapes with a very delicate Japanese touch. Izumi combines her paints with crushed seashells to give an even more evocative touch to her works, the more closely you look the more creatures you’ll find. I really did not want to leave, but we had to be back on our journey so we bought some prints to take home.

It didn’t take us long to reach St Just, but we were definitely ready for lunch when we did. A modest but tasty lunch, followed by a less traditional espresso that was well needed to carry on.
Back on our bikes, we cycled along Land’s End aerodrome, watching helicopters take off, how cool is that?
The last part of the journey was a steep downhill ride to Mousehole, a gorgeous little village by the sea:

My ‘guide’ volunteered to ride up to fetch the car back in Drift, so I wandered for a while around the village, following improvised routes through tiny streets, until I stumbled into Bea’s open studio. I went into her flat and called, but nobody replied. I looked at her work undisturbed for a while, some of the linocut prints had a peculiar style that reminded me of ancient Greek art, there were also some paintings and sculptures, but I was particularly drawn to this picture for its strong sense of immediacy:

Bea eventually arrived and explained that she made the picture from life, there and then. I adore the urgency of an image made to catch a certain light and mood,the rush, even the stress to take it all in and regurgitate it on paper before it’s too late.
We chatted for a bit longer about life in Mousehole and art, a combination that seems to work very well for many others in town.
At last, it was time to go home. With aching legs, I made it to the car and announced that I desperately needed to buy the horse back at Coralie’s studio. I had toyed with the idea all day and I knew by then that I wanted to take it home with me. A choice I don’t regret when I see it now, peacefully resting on my window sill.
So home we went, with the horse on my lap and a banana in my hand, looking at a breathtaking sunset:

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