When you see that something was founded “at the turn of the century”, the immediate reaction is to think, “wow, that’s quite old”. In this case, it’s the turn of the 21st century, though even that’s quite a while ago now.
The blurb tells us that the members of the South West Academy “follow in the footsteps of those celebrated groups who, while lacking formal structure, joined together for the purposes of mutual support and fellowship.” It then goes on to attempt a coupling with the Newlyn and St Ives Schools which, I would venture to suggest, had rather more of an artistic cohesion than is evident here.
I’m being more than a little unfair, as this is a nicely-produced survey of a group of more or less disparate artists who are, however, united by a geographical location.
The members of the group are certainly a varied lot – representational and abstract painters, illustrators, sculptors and photographers. Michael Carter, who has compiled the book, is one of these latter and provides the biographies and rather excellent photographic portraits.
This is a pleasant book to handle and includes a rather delightfully eclectic mix of styles and subjects. If I was a little hard on it at the beginning, that was perhaps because it (or its publisher) tries a tad too hard to present it as more of a unity than it is. To do otherwise would be a hard sell, but I’m happy just to let it run and to enjoy it for itself.
South West Academy: Art-People-Place
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