No. 1 RICHARD COOK : UP OUR STREET - A journey through the lives, spaces and collections of 8 Holland Street's artists and designers
"WHAT GETS ME THROUGH (THE DAY)...?
BEING DRIVEN TO PIN DOWN, FIND SOMETHING EACH DAY, SOMETHING THAT MIGHT CORRESPOND TO WHAT I HAVE SEEN, FELT, EXPERIENCED. SOMETHING THAT STOPS THE WORLD SPINNING FOR A MOMENT"
FOR OUR FIRST FEATURE, WE SPOKE TO ARTIST RICHARD COOK ABOUT DAY-TO-DAY LIFE IN HIS POETIC SEA-SIDE STUDIO…
Cornwall based painter Richard Cook sees his art as on the fringes of nature in its importance to him. On a recent visit Cook described a ‘magical sea’ within which he searches for silver threads that lead him to a painting. Whether they be in Mount’s Bay, where he resides and swims, a Thomas Hardy poem or a buzzard soaring above the moor -
His day begins with a walk on the moor, searching for his favourite butterflies amongst the tussock and looking up to see which buzzards are about. Always walking with pen and paper, for a quick drawing before making his way to his studio. This morning, a red-bay willow herb with a distant blue sea. When we spoke, Cook described how he awoke in the middle of the night to see the moon brightly reflected in a still sea, upon which he felt a compulsion to draw, leading to his painting the next day; this surge of creative energy is what he seeks to find in the studio.
Painting is rapid for Cook, because when he finds his thread, he wants to hold onto it, and it is this that produces the anarchic energy visible in the broad impasto strokes of his work. Cook’s strokes form paths of colour all over the canvas, and a mound of oil paint grows by the day in the studio as he mixes for painting anew. Though Cook says he doesn’t like to travel, it seems to us that every day he pursues adventure even if localised, and even if within his interior world.
Talking with Richard is to experience his stream of consciousness, his metaphors - looking for gold, catching quicksilver, silver threads. It feels as though he has carved out a magical life, even when discussing his days at the Royal College of Art in ’73 when it was free from student fees, and he paid £7 a week for a flat in Hampstead. There is an ease, and an authenticity to his work and life.
Richard Cook is much like his favourite creature, as he flits between his studio and the natural world. For this reason alone he is right UP OUR STREET, and an artist that we proudly work with at 8 Holland Street.
ALL IMAGES BY OLLIE TOMLINSON
Drawing from Courbet (Girl With a Sea Gull) from a visit to the National Gallery
Portrait of Richards son aged 12 displaying his heavy impasto brushwork
A 'painted lady' butterfly found by Richard on his doorstep and a scribble from Velasquez (Las Hilanderes) and from Van Gogh ('The Sower')
Many heads of Linda in different formats pinned to the studio wall
Richard's mountain of oil paint from years of painting
Richards work table
Richard CookDartmoor Remembrance£ 1,950.00
Richard CookEvening Meadows£ 2,500.00
Richard CookEvening Standing StonesSold
Richard CookGrey Head Land£ 2,150.00
Richard CookHadleigh£ 2,750.00
Richard CookLacuna£ 31,000.00
Richard CookLlanthony Valley£ 4,000.00
Richard CookLooking Through, Winter£ 2,450.00
Richard CookLooking WestSold
Richard CookMeadow Lands£ 9,000.00
Richard CookMill Stream£ 1,900.00
Richard CookMill Stream and Ford£ 3,300.00
Richard CookMounts Bay£ 9,000.00
Richard CookNanven£ 6,600.00
Richard CookNewlyn Sea Front£ 4,550.00
Richard CookNightime Meadow£ 1,900.00
RICHARD COMPLETES THE SENTENCES ABOUT HIS DAY...
I STARTED my day by…
out to the moor, walked through early morning - butterflies flitting a buzzard then against a tussock - a quick drawing - pen - red rose - bay willow herb and distant blue sea
AT LUNCH …
not today, too many interruptions but the afternoon waiting
WHAT GETS ME THROUGH …
being driven to pin down, find something each day, something that might correspond to what I have seen/felt/experienced. Something that stops the world spinning for a moment
A DISTRACTION …
reading Thomas Hardy poems in the studio
I FAILED AT …
most of painting is failure - it’s what makes one go further
A THOUGHT I had …
best not to think too much when it comes to painting
A DREAM PROJECT …
it’s all a dream - lost memory.
who knows. I do not plan my painting but follow my impulses - they seem to have a greater presence of mind-certainly they are wiser than my conscious thought