Thomas Cooper Gotch, A Night in June, 1910. Gotch described this painting as ‘a nightpiece, a lawn with dining table lit by shaded candles, two figures at a table, other figures on a further plane drinking coffee, Japanese lanterns.’ In fact the painting was done on the main lawn at Wheal Betsy, not long after the house was built. The figures in the painting are Gotch’s friends including Captain Evans who is the hero of the recent film ‘Summer in February’
In June 2014, teacher Margaret Follows engaged a class of children from Newlyn School as art detectives to contribute to the on-going Newlyn Archive project ‘Newlyn at Play’. The detective’s work began on Friday 13 June when Margaret presented the school children with a challenge. Who was Thomas Cooper Gotch? What did he look like and what did he do? Where did he live? When did he live in Newlyn? Why did he enjoy painting twilight celebrations illuminated by Japanese lanterns, like the 1910 painting ‘A Night in June’ shown above?
How did the art detectives investigate this mystery?
On the sunniest day in June 2014, 15 art detectives and their teacher, Ms Fitzgerald, from Newlyn School drove up Chywoone Hill in the school mini-bus. They stopped at the top of the hill. They were equipped with their evidence pack which included photographs of the artist Thomas Cooper Gotch (TCG) and his artist wife Caroline, a photo of Wheal Betsy Cottage in the 1950’s, when daughter Phyllis Gotch owned it, and copies of TCG’s lantern paintings and landscapes of Mounts Bay from Wheal Betsy.
What would they discover?
At the entrance to Wheal Betsy they were met by the very jovial and welcoming owner Ron Hogg. The art detectives stood on the front steps just as Thomas Gotch stood, they explored the beautiful garden and walked in the artist’s footsteps, experiencing where he painted ‘Night in June’ and ‘The Birthday Party’. They discovered where Thomas Gotch must have painted his wonderful landscapes of Mount’s Bay. They even found one of Thomas Gotch’s original paintings inside the house. Questions were numerous and thought provoking as they quizzed Ron about the life and times of Thomas Gotch whilst he lived in Wheal Betsy, a stunning Art & Crafts House. But the highlight of the visit for everybody was the picnic in the garden, playing on the swinging tree seats and discovering the tree house just as Phyllis and her friends might have done more than 100 years ago.
Thanks to the Coop. Above Ron Hogg (treasurer) and Tom Lodge (Vice chairman) recieve a cheque for £500 from the Co-op towards the 2014 archive project, ‘When Newlyners walked to Lamorna’