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Time to meet Painters and Posers

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: February 28, 2013

  • What did the posers wear? Alan Shears will be showing some of the clothes and jewellery worn by folk who 'posed' for the early Newlyn artists.

  • A photo of Eileen O'Henry, known as Dolly, in around 1912. She posed for Dame Laura Knight and Thomas Cooper Gotch. Dolly was the mistress of artist John Currie, who shot and killed her and then himself in 1914. At the end of July 1914, Dolly, who was living at Newlyn, was posing for Laura at Lamorna. In her book, The Magic Of A Line, Laura described Dolly as 'one of the most desirable models, a girl whose mass of fair hair matched our sunflowers'. Laura recalls how she was in the middle of an endeavour to paint her full length when one day she arrived in a fearful state, having been thrown from her bicycle. "He tried to kill me – I must get back to London," said she. "What nonsense!" I assured her. "No one does that sort of thing, on a main road, too!" Dolly vanished soon afterwards, moving away from Currie. Unfortunately, the Knights had her new address and inadvertently passed it on to John Currie. A few days later Currie had shot and killed Dolly and had afterwards become

  • Betsy Lanyon, born 1807, was married to a fisherman who died in January 1872, leaving her with a crippled son who died later the same year. She made a living as a fish hawker but by 1883 she was supplementing her income by modelling.

  • Elizabeth Forbes drew her son Alec, aged 4, standing on a chair and framed by an enormous Newlyn copper plate, c 1897. Mrs Forbes and her husband, Stanhope, painted their only child until Alec died on active service in the First World War in 1915. Andrew Gordon, who lives in Newlyn, is writing a book to be published later this year describing the life of Alec Forbes, from Alec's childhood in Newlyn to his death in the trenches on the Somme.

  • The Chalet, Ropewalk Newlyn. Photo Ron Hogg, 2011.

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NEWLYN'S artistic heritage dates back to the end of the 19th century and now that long and fascinating history is set to become the topic of an exhibition.

Newlyn Archive's first open day of 2013, Painters and Posers, is this Saturday and visitors will have the chance to delve deep into the scandal, intrigue and lives of the artists of the past.

Archivist Pam Lomax said: "This is the first major open day since we received £3,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery towards integrating the West Cornwall Art Archive into the Newlyn Archive and we hope to have a number of interesting display folders and files from that source for people to browse through."

Archive chairman David Tredinnick coined the term 'posers' for the models that were used by Newlyn painters, past and present.

Friend of the archive, painter Bernard Evans has made numerous paintings of Newlyn Fish Market and the men who work there and his photos and paintings will be on display on the day.

Members of the archive will be asking people to identify the posers in his pictures.

Mr Evans recently wrote about Newlyn's history for an exhibition about the village in the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.

He wrote: "Newlyn has changed in many ways since the first painters of the Newlyn School arrived 150 years ago.... The black or grey fishing luggers of Victorian times with their brown sails have been replaced by diesel or outboard powered boats of every kind in a great variety of colours.... The colours here too have changed dramatically. The fishermen now wear brightly coloured waterproofs as do the market porters. The fish are carried round in red, blue and green fish boxes. These new colours reflect advances in art where the earth colours of the Victorian painters have been supplemented by the new bright pigments available to the contemporary artist."

The open day will be held from 10am to 3.30pm at the Trinity Centre, Newlyn.

Penlee House will host a display about Newlyn fishwives and there will also be examples of the clothes and jewellery worn by posers on show.

For more information, call 01736 362876 or visit the archive on Friday mornings from 9.30am to noon at the Mount's Bay Room at the Trinity Centre.

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