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Artists capture authentic scenes of everyday life in Westcountry

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 15, 2012

  • Among the paintings for sale in Elford Fine Art's exhibition until December 22 are our cover picture Autumn Frost by Michael Kitchen-Hurle (top), Fishermen Landing their Catch, Plymouth by Nicholas Condy (middle) and Forder Creek, Saltash, by William Gibbons (above)

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Elford Fine Art Christmas Exhibition AND SALE

An important painting by Harold Harvey (1874-1941), the only principal member of the Newlyn School to have been born in Cornwall, is among the highlights in Elford Fine Art's exhibition and sale at Tavistock.

Entitled Home from the Fields, the painting is one of a number of outstanding examples in Elford Fine Art's exhibition by leading members of the Newlyn, Falmouth and St Ives Schools and many other distinguished artists who found their inspiration in the magnificent coast and countryside of the South West.

Harvey painted authentic scenes of everyday Cornish life with an intimate, personal knowledge of the area and its people. The canvas is dated 1907 and this early period is often regarded as the most attractive in Harvey's work, when he was producing romantic images of rural pre-war Cornwall.

Harvey was taught firstly by the Penzance-based artist Norman Garstin and then in Paris, where he was influenced by the French rural realist movement. Recording the day-to-day lives of working Cornish people, Harvey liked to paint outdoors – in the fields and country lanes, by the harbours and on the beaches near his home.

He was popular among his fellow artists and is regarded as one of the most important painters of the Newlyn School.

Another artist who depicted scenes of everyday life in South West England, but some three-quarters of a century before the Newlyn painters, was Nicholas Condy (1793-1857). Before becoming a painter, Condy led an adventurous life with a military career which included service against Napoleon in the Peninsular War. On his retirement from the military, he settled in Plymouth and became a professional artist.

Condy produced finely observed cottage interiors, which provide a fascinating insight into everyday life in the early 19th century, as well as small coastal and shore scenes, usually painted on tinted paper in watercolour and bodycolour. Fishermen Landing their Catch, a scene of Plymouth fishermen hard at work dates back to the 1840s and offers us a treasure of information about the area and its people 170 years ago.

In other work on show, coastal and maritime subjects feature prominently, with picturesque coves, beaches, harbours, creeks and estuaries. Of note are historic views of Mount Edgcumbe Deer Park overlooking Plymouth Sound in 1860 by William Norman and Forder Creek near Saltash in 1874 by William Gibbons.

Widgery enthusiasts will discover a generous selection by father and son, William (1826-1893) and Frederick John (1861-1942), who were renowned for their evocative images of Dartmoor with its dramatic tors, tumbling streams, stone bridges, watermills and colourful heather-clad landscapes. Four of the Widgery paintings feature West Mill Tor, the moor near Belstone, the River Lyd and the River Exe and Haldon Hill.

These South West scenes of yesteryear are complemented by an exciting variety of contemporary works full of scintillating light and colour. These include the latest collection of exquisitely detailed miniature watercolours by Rosalind Pierson.

The impressionist watercolours of Cecil Rice take us on an enthralling journey from sailing boats at Dartmouth and Topsham to gondolas in the beautiful city of Venice, while the highly accomplished floral and wildlife artist Michelle Bennett Oates is represented with a glorious still-life study in oils of irises, foxgloves, clematis and anemones.

Michael Kitchen-Hurle's wonderful observation of the countryside has captured a wily fox on a crisp frosty morning.

Elford Fine Art's Christmas exhibition and sale continues at The Gallery, 3 Drake Road, Tavistock. Opening times are 10.30am-4.30pm, Monday to Saturday, until December 22. Telephone 07712 137272 or visit www.elfordfineart.co.uk for more.

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