art Guest Blog

Inspired by the Coast – Tamsyn Trevorrow

Sculptor Tamsyn Trevorrow’s artwork takes inspiration from her enduring relationship with the sea and coastline of West Cornwall. The fired and glazed pieces reflect the textures and colours of this rugged stretch of coastline home to mining heritage, wild ocean vistas, and awe-inspiring granite rock formations.

Humans cannot survive without nature, but nature can live without us.

Born in such an amazing area as Cornwall it’s hard not to be inspired by its beauty, a beautiful yet rugged landscape surrounded by coastline. I love walking the Coast Path and beaches observing the textures and how the elements have weathered and shaped so much natural and built heritage.

The South West Coast Path around Cornwall is so unique to anywhere in the world – the dramatic north coast or the picturesque south both inspire history, adventure/exploring and time out from busy lives but most of all there are very few things that can inspire artistic brilliance quite like nature does. For me, it’s the light along the coast that inspires, those black skies and rich colours before a rainstorm or the form of a rock or patterns in the sand that will get me thinking about how I can reflect this in my work. 

I love to get out amongst the coast whenever possible where I’m usually found taking photographs -mainly of colour and textures but also of other images that make me think. For example, harbour walls have these elements of colour and texture but what can they also tell you about the history and stories of the place – like the skeletons of decaying boats. I have spent hours in and on the water from snorkelling, surfing, and kayaking to helping with Cornwall Swimming Horses there’s nothing better than being immersed in the sea. 

Like exploring the South West Coast my Ceramic work is an art form of continuous discovery, it plays with your mindset, skills and attitude.

Work explores the material effects of time on the natural world, in particular the interaction between land and sea and the ever-changing landscape of these liminal spaces. I use colour, form and texture to transmute the temporal into the experience. The beautiful and rugged landscape surrounded by the coastline of Cornwall, as well as the Cornish mines, mine deposits and boat/shipwrecks, all offer a rich source of inspiration. Their structures and weathered and corroded textures are reflected in the construction of my clay forms. 

The spiral found in nature represents movement and regeneration, I am drawn to this shape, the form of a shell or the curl of a wave, both holding within them the spiral.  The land and sea with their wealth of colour and endless energy – I love how the movement of water obeys the same harmonics which condition the growth of shells. This simple yet powerful movement flows within parts of my work adding different dimensions, as does the smooth slick of colour to the otherwise rugged and weathered exterior. 

My pieces are built by hand with a local clay from along the South West Coast Path at St Agnes, a heavily grogged stoneware clay suitable for both inside and outside. Local raw clays from around the coast are collected and used in conjunction with slips. I mainly build using the coil and slab process then pieces are cut, reshaped and sculpted; adding and removing sections as the piece evolves. This results in a spontaneous and instinctive sculpture, which invites the eye to explore it from all angles – in, around and through.

The colours that I achieve are a result of using a variety of different slips and glazes that interact with one another, they are often then multi-fired helping to build up the textures that I give over control of the piece to the intransigent process of firing. The finished piece is when hand, eye and nature have combined successfully. 

I hope my work has a tactility and naturalness that people respond to helping them reconnect to nature, by reflecting nature it produces past memories and feelings helping our emotional wellbeing as does spending time outside on the coast. 

A natural connection to the Coast Path is a reminder to us not to forget the difference we can make because we can make a difference. If we can re-learn to care for the environment around us and be responsible for our actions, then we can respectfully co-exist with the natural world.

As individuals, we can define our affinity with nature by how much we feel part of it.  Most of us have an innate love of the outdoors – we feel its’ benefits on our physical and mental health. But is this relationship symbiotic, or are we living in a time when convenience has overtaken conscience when it comes to taking responsibility for our actions?

Written by Tamsyn Trevorrow

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About Tamsyn

My family have lived in Cornwall for generations and growing up in St Ives has been of huge inspiration to me.  I have always loved being outdoors – spending time along the coastline and being within nature have always been a big part of my life.

I fell in love with clay from a young age, and studied at Falmouth College of Arts with time spent on Erasmus at Limerick Technical College.

 After college I travelled for a number of years mainly through South East Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand – working in Australia at Happs Pottery, Dunsborough with Myles Happ and Warrick Palmateer who throws for Pippin Drysdale  and teaching at Northland Polytechnic College, New Zealand with Manos Nathan.

I eventually returned in 2001 and spent time at the Gaol Yard Studios in St Ives run by John Bedding, heading back and forth over a few years to Indonesia, NZ and Australia for a good few winters however Cornwall and my Celtic routes always brought me home.

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