Above: Members of the Laura Knight Society on the Cliff, Newlyn
The Newlyn Archive hosted a group of 32 members of Dame Laura Knight Society from Malvern, on Thursday 16/5/2019. The Society wanted to visit the houses of artists associated with Laura Knight and three stalwart Friends of the Archive (Ron Hogg, Andrew Gordon and Richard Cockram) led three walks that took off at 15 minute intervals from Wheal Betsy.
Wheal Betsy was an appropriate place to start. Built by Thomas and Caroline Gotch in 1910 the Knights had moved into the Gotches’ previous home at Trewarveneth when the latter moved to Wheal Betsy. Both families had come to Newlyn in 1906 and Phyllis Gotch and Laura Knight became close friends, being of a similar age. Pam Lomax made the introductions and was able to wet appetites by reading a letter written by Phyllis Gotch to Laura Knight in July 1906, which described a dinner that was held at Penzer House where Mrs Beer was landlady.
Left: Two groups cross on their walk to the Artists’ houses
Fortunately it was a down-hill walk. 13 Artists Houses were identified: Wheal Betsy, La Pietra, Malt House, Orchard Cottage, Mount Vernon, Boase Castle, Penzer House, Myrtle Cottage, Meadow Studios, North Corner, Rue de Beaux Arts, Joel and Keel Alley. From there, the groups walked to the Boathouse.
Ron, Andrew and Richard shared some of the knowledge we have in the West Cornwall Art Archive about artists’ houses. Richard reported ‘my group asked plenty of questions, some of which I could answer thanks to Ron’s notes’. Ron said that he had recounted Laura Knight’s story of coming home to Penzer and finding Alfred Munnings comfortably settled in one of the armchairs. Munnings had said, ‘Mrs Beer has let me a bedroom and says I can share your sitting room and have meals with you’. Apparently, Harold Knight was not amused!
In the Meadow all the groups were invited into the studio of artist Virginia ‘Ginnie’ Bounds, who is currently resident in Stanhope Forbes Anchor Studio, which once house the Forbes School of painting and is said to have the original anchor from Forbes famous painting outside.
The walk ended at the Admiralty Boathouse where Sean Perrott and Helen Burnham and their team of Friends were waiting. Brian Newton had made a short film with extracts from different films about Laura Knight held in the archive. Sean and Helen said that ‘the Boathouse became alive with the arrival of the first group of the Laura Knight Society members. More arrived later, some a little tired after their walk, but all interested in looking through the folders or enjoying the excellent film show. There were plenty of questions, not only relating to the collections, but also to the restoration of the Boathouse. A great many signed our Boathouse Diary. It was a very enjoyable morning.’