This morning I went walking, to try and recapture some of the beauty I found yesterday in the sketches of Elizabeth Carne. Kresen Kernow, the Cornwall Archive in Redruth, has three albums filled with Elizabeth's sketches - and I found myself open-mouthed in appreciation of the beauty within the tattered covers...
Drawing 150 years ago, Elizabeth - known as a geologist, banker and educational philanthropist - shows us a world more empty than that of today. She travelled widely in Europe - Italy, France, Switzerland - and frequently to the Isles of Scilly where, with her pencil and talent, she captured the calm of a landscape uncluttered by concrete buildings, and captured the balance that once existed between nature and man-made structures.
Elizabeth's drawings exude the tranquillity of a world prior to powered vehicles, where the curved boughs of trees contrast with the sharp edges of beautifully executed buildings. Exquisitely wrought in sharp pencil, and charcoal - sometimes with added colour - these images from the Scillies were drawn between 1832 an 1856, and the frontispiece of the album includes a beautiful map.
I had the pleasure of seeing other drawings from Elizabeth from her travels in Europe, and those I will share in a subsequent post. But given that I suspect Elizabeth's artistic talents have lain unappreciated for so long already, I was impatient to share them - sooner than later!
The only downside to such an encounter with wonderful drawings such as these, is the contrast with modernity on leaving the cocoon of the pages...In comparison, the outside world seemed loud, brash, and littered with ugliness.
Luckily for me, the lanes west of Camborne rarely disappoint with their sense of seclusion, and in the company of lacey bluebells and campions this morning, I was able to reflect on how fortunate we are to have these sketches of Elizabeth's preserved. Perhaps they serve as an inflection point, as we consider how we affect the landscape we live in, and how to enhance it in the future.
Volume, 'Sketches by E T Carne' - Ref. PW/128
Portfolio: 'Sketches on the Scilly Island' - Ref. PW/126
Volume: sketches of various places in Europe - PW/127
All available at Kresen Kernow: www.kresenkernow.org