“Alice Mumford should be regarded as gifted choreographer. Her chosen objects are certainly not still. They have shimmering quality suggesting almost imperceptible movement.” I wouldn’t disagree with that, nor could I put it better, than the jacket blurb by Professor Richard Demarco.
Where I disagree is with the title. Despite the cover image, which shows a still life against a coastal background, this is not a book of coastal landscapes. In point of fact, Alice Mumford’s main subjects, certainly as presented here, are still lifes. Very good still lifes, it should be said, and frequently set in the context of a window and the view from it. These, though, tend to be land- rather than seascapes or even urban scenes. Reading Alice’s own introduction, it becomes clear that, with her studio half way between St Ives and Penzance, she has access to both Cornwall’s north and south coasts. She observes that “what you end up painting alters radically according to where you sit or stand in relation to the sun”. The point being that, look one way and you have the sun in front of you, turn round and it’s at your back. This is one of those truisms that you will either regard as an important nostrum or have you slapping your forehead in frustration and muttering, “you don’t say!”
Simple things, though, are worth remembering and my own aide-memoire, when taking a photograph in tricky light is “expose for the highlights and let the shadows look after themselves”. Basic stuff, but it gets you out of a lot of trouble and saves a lot of head-scratching.
As I said, although title of this might lead you up the wrong path, I can also see where it’s coming from. As a presentation of the work of an excellent still life artist, it’s very well done indeed.
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