Monday, Bryan Pearce (1929-2007)
Oil on board, 1959. Bryan Pearce was born in St Ives in 1929 and suffered from the then unknown condition Phenylketonuria, which affects the normal development of the brain. Encouraged by his mother, the painter Mary Pearce, and then by other St Ives artists, he began drawing and painting in watercolours in 1953. His regular walks around St Ives, where he lived all his life, have been the inspiration for his subject matter, unconsciously recording the town's subtle changes. In this synthesis of imagination and reality, Pearce paints the world as he commands it; a sanctuary with an ever-present sun, bathing the streets and houses in the subtlest of colour harmonies. He worked slowly, but consistently, producing around twelve oil paintings a year. Often compared to Alfred Wallis, the late Peter Lanyon said of him: 'Because his sources are not seen with a passive eye, but are truly happenings, his painting is original'. His particular experiences of his hometown were captured with unique clarity. Pearce's artistic developments, his simple renditions of space, colour and light, evolve from a sophisticated understanding of composition. He had a career which spanned over fifty years, his paintings seem to evoke a serene sense of place, which seems at once personal yet archetypal. He is now recognised as one of the country's foremost 'naive' painters, through the re-examination of familiar views and landmarks, Pearce offers us his profound, extraordinary experience of St Ives.
Dummy Board of a Girl in Costume of the William and Mary Period
Wooden painted screen dating from around 1689-1702. Dummy boards were usually placed in empty spaces, such as a staircase or empty fireplace, in large houses. They may have been amusement pieces, created to trick the eye into thinking the painted boards were real people. This kind of painting, known as trompe l'oeil, was very popular at the time. The girl is pictured wearing fashion typical of the period including a long gown with sleeves to the elbow to show an under-sleeve of white lace and a black silk pinner (apron). Her hair is worn high with a frontage headdress. She is carrying a spaniel on one arm and holding a black mask in her other hand. These masks were sometimes worn by women when walking or riding outdoors to protect the face from sunburn. During this period it was fashionable to have pale skin.
© RIC, photographer Mike Searle
View of St Ives with the railway station in foreground. Around 1880
The St Ives branch was opened on 1st June 1877, by the GWR as successors to the West Cornwall Railway. The stonework of the railway buildings still appears very fresh in this view, which cannot have been taken much later. A slightly different view of a similar date appears in the G.W.R. Journal Special Cornish Issue 1992. The permanent way consisted of 76 Ib bullhead rail in 35 Ib cast iron chairs on cross sleepers, and unlike the mixed gauge main line, was broad gauge only. The viaduct to the right of the picture had three openings of 40 feet and seven of 20 feet, wrought iron girders being carried on masonry piers. The curved station building has a certain Brunelian feel about it, even though completed some 18 years after his death. A small signal box is provided to operate the typical G.W.R. semaphore signal. Two coaches stand in the station, another further along, and what appears to be a saloon at the far end. All are in two colour livery. Goods waggons in the picture consist of about seven opens and three vans, the limited goods traffic being reflected by the small yard of only two short sidings in addition to the two lines through the station. There was also a small engine shed just out of shot to the right. at this date the pilchard industry was at its height, and boats appear everywhere, on the beach, under the viaduct, in front of houses, on the slope behind, and next to the signal box. The image was certainly taken before 1888 as the wooden pier is still in good condition and the quay has not yet been lengthened. Photographer: Edward Ashton.
© From the collection of the RIC