Sunday 23rd July 2017

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Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love

Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser

If I had to live my life without you near me
The days would all be empty
The nights would seem so long, with you I see forever
Oh, so clearly, I might have been in love before

But it never felt this strong
Our dreams are young and we both know
They’ll take us where we want to go

Hold me now
Touch me now
I don’t want to live without you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through but
Nothing’s gonna change my love for you

If the road ahead is not so easy
Our love will lead the way for us
Like a guiding star
I’ll be there for you if you should need me

You don’t have to change a thing
I love you just the way you are
So come with me and share the view
I’ll help you see forever too

Hold me now
Touch me now
I don’t want to live without you

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
One thing you can be sure of
I’ll never ask for more than your love

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you
You ought to know by now how much I love you
The world may change my whole life through but
Nothing’s gonna change my love for you

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Summer in February

Summer in February is a 2013 British romantic drama film directed by Christopher Menaul. Novelist Jonathan Smith adapted the screenplay from his 1995 eponymous novel. The film stars Dominic Cooper, Emily Browning, Dan Stevens, Hattie Morahan and Nicholas Farrell and focuses on the early 20th century love triangle between British artist Alfred Munnings, his friend Gilbert Evans and Florence Carter-Wood. It was released in the United Kingdom on 14 June 2013.

Summer in February was shot during January and February 2012.
The cast and crew spent four weeks filming in Cornwall from 15 January. Shooting locations included Penzance, Lamorna and Prussia Cove. National Trust beaches Holywell and Porthcurno provided “a dramatic setting” for a horse-race sequence and a beach party scene respectively.
Producer Jeremy Cowdrey explained “We could have filmed it anywhere in the world but we were determined to do it here, where it all happened. It’s a true story and, because it’s about a Bohemian artists’ colony, the exciting thing is to recreate it, splash Cornwall and bring the county alive.”

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Summer in February, Jonathan Smith’s novel relating the turbulent events in Lamorna on the eve of the First World War, is an absorbing read. A film of the same title is due to be released in the UK later this year. Penlee House’s latest offering is a beautifully crafted show which links the two, locating both book and film within the context of a unique artistic community whose members are pictured at work and play.

The exhibition was opened last week by Jonathan Smith, who has written the screenplay for the film adaptation. A window display at the Gallery’s entrance includes stills from the forthcoming film, together with the wedding dress worn by the actor Emily Browning.

A delicately rendered landscape in watercolour entitled ‘The Moor’ testifies to the fact that Florence Carter Wood came to Cornwall to study art. This image, a rare canvas by the aspiring painter, is the first of many visual delights which offer an intimate look into the lives of the Lamorna artists and their friends during the closing years of the Edwardian era. ‘Lamorna Cove’ below, by one of the earliest residents of the valley, Samuel ‘Lamorna’ Birch, is undated yet conveys the atmosphere of an era of innocence which was soon to disappear forever.

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The community had grown since the founding in 1899 of the Forbes School of Painting in nearby Newlyn. The active involvement of Stanhope Forbes’ wife Elizabeth made the school particularly appealing to women seeking art tuition, and Florence was one of several female students attracted by its reputation. A further incentive for Florence was the fact that her brother Joey was already studying under Stanhope Forbes. Among her fellow students she found companionship and acquired the unflattering nickname ‘Blote’.

Much of the detail of Florence’s life remains undocumented. She is best known as the subject of a number of portraits by the artists of Lamorna. A pair of oils by Harold Knight (one dated 1911) show her in profile, a fine-looking young woman in her early twenties, whose bearing is somewhat aloof. Those who knew Florence found her introverted and prone to depression. Harold was a man of few words who enjoyed working quietly in his studio, so it is likely that the two were comfortable in each other’s company. Laura Knight, while deeply committed to her art, was in many respects the opposite of her husband. She was an extrovert and loved being part of a social circle whose pursuit of pleasure included a great deal of late-night revelry, in which the flamboyant Alfred (AJ) Munnings played a conspicuous role. Florence’s quiet beauty proved irresistible to Alfred, with whom she shared a love of riding. She proved ideal as a model for his equestrian paintings, most famously in ‘The Morning Ride’ on loan for this exhibition, which forms the cover image of Jonathan Smith’s novel.

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The narrative of Summer in February unfolds from the point of view of Captain Gilbert Evans, who kept diaries of his time in Lamorna. The highly respected and well-liked local land agent, he was torn between loyalty towards his friend Alfred Munnings and his growing love for Florence, in whom he found a kindred spirit. But his lack of confidence prevented him from declaring his feelings for her, and he was devastated when the pair announced their engagement. It was evident not only to Gilbert that Alfred and Florence had little in common. They were considered an ill-matched couple by Lamorna Birch, and by the Knights. Beneath his brash charm Munnings could be insensitive and cruel. Spending a great deal of time away in London or visiting his family roots in Suffolk, he led the life of a carefree bachelor, leaving Florence behind in Lamorna, where Gilbert could be relied upon to keep her spirits up. Gilbert and Florence were in the habit of taking walks together in the beautiful Lamorna valley or along the clifftops, and it was one of these occasions, described in his diary as taking place on a ‘summer’s day’ but dated in February, which inspired the title for the book.

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The companion piece to ‘The Morning Ride’ is ‘Portrait of Florence Munnings at Sunset’ by her husband, painted soon after their marriage. Clad in a pale flowing dress, the subject sits atop a stone wall, scarcely distinguishable from her surroundings, flecked with the last rays of the dying sun. The loosely applied brushwork lends her form a remote, ethereal quality.

Florence was already deeply unhappy in her marriage. During Alfred’s frequent absences she and Gilbert found solace in each other’s company. Gilbert’s background comes to life in the exhibition through photographs of him posed with fellow players in the 1st XV rugby team at school (c.1899) and later as a member of the Monmouth Militia. Displayed in a cabinet are his medals, including those awarded for service during the Boer War. Also on show are his regimental sword and his fishing rod.

Although his love affair with Florence remained a secret to all but a few, Gilbert was finding the situation intolerable. Early in 1914 he resolved to resign from his job in Lamorna, to join the colonial service in Nigeria. On the eve of his departure, he and Florence met in London. A poignant memento of this occasion was retained by Gilbert. It is the receipt for their lunch, headed ‘14.4.1914, Trocadero Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus’. Afterwards, Florence accompanied him to Paddington Station, where they parted. His diary continues the narrative: ‘I went to the train alone and very sad.’ Later, he added: ‘This was the last time I saw her alive.’

Photograph of Edith Florence Carter-Wood by Photographer Unknownportraitofflorence

No longer able to bear her husband’s dismissive attitude towards her, Florence Munnings took her own life on 24 July 1914. A few weeks later Gilbert Evans received the news in Nigeria. In September 1914 Britain was plunged into war with Germany. The sorrow borne by Florence’s family was compounded when Joey Carter Wood was killed in battle in France the following year.

In her autobiography ‘Oil Paint and Grease Paint’ Laura Knight referred to the tragedy thus: ‘Suddenly the death of a much-loved member of our colony put an end to all joy.’

In 1920 Alfred Munnings married Violet McBride, a renowned horsewoman. In later life he wrote an autobiography in three volumes, in which there is no mention of Florence.

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Gilbert Evans became the Deputy Surveyor General of Nigeria. There he met his future wife, Joan, with whom he had two sons. He retired in 1933 and returned to Lamorna, where he died in 1966.

Gilbert was not an artist, and yet the exhibition is infused with his quiet spirit. A selection of artworks given to him by his artist friends testifies to his popularity. A watercolour entitled ‘A Winter Landscape’ was a Christmas present from Joey Carter Wood in 1913. Flanked by Harold Knight’s portraits of Florence, described above, is a beautifully understated charcoal drawing on paper entitled simply ‘Florence’. The signature ‘MCF’ indicates that the artist was her fellow student Madeleine ‘Madge’ Fawkes. This gift to Gilbert from their mutual friend was discovered years after his death, carefully concealed behind a framed drawing of a fisher boy. After Florence died Alfred Munnings, in acknowledgement of his friend’s relationship with her, left ‘The Morning Ride’ with the Knights – a gift for Gilbert on his return. This must have been a bitter-sweet moment for the recipient.

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Laura Knight was one of the most prominent members of the Lamorna community. Professional models and friends would pose for her in all sorts of weather conditions, as she loved nothing better than to paint ‘en plein-air’. A large canvas ‘The Flower’ depicts four female figures out of doors. One is believed to be the professional model, Dolly Snell, while the figure on the right is presumed to be Florence. Prior to the outbreak of war Knight developed a fascination for the ballet and theatre. ‘The Dancer’, a work in oil on paper, was given to Gilbert at this time.

A close friend to both the Knights was the beautiful Ella Naper. The show includes nude photographs of Ella, taken on Bodmin Moor, which were used by Harold for his numerous portraits of her. Alongside is one of the products of a joint artistic venture – Laura and Ella’s tiny, delicate ‘Dancer’ in enamel.

Ella, a ceramicist and maker of exquisite jewellery, is the subject of Laura Knight’s ‘Self & Nude’. Painted in 1913, it attracted a great deal of controversy as it was the first time a woman artist had depicted herself with a nude. The painting was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1971 and is one of their most treasured artworks. Alison Bevan, director of Penlee House Gallery, told me: ‘We have tried to borrow ‘Self & Nude’ on several previous occasions, without success, so we are absolutely delighted finally to have been able to bring it back to Cornwall. It is such a stunning painting and is particularly relevant for this show not only because it depicts two of the close friends of the story’s main protagonists (Laura Knight and Ella Naper), but its production was marked by a party, a souvenir of which appears in Gilbert Evans’s scrap book, on show as part of the exhibition.’

The Newlyn School

The Newlyn School was an art colony of artists based in or near Newlyn, a fishing village adjacent to Penzance, Cornwall, from the 1880s until the early twentieth century. The establishment of the Newlyn School was reminiscent of the Barbizon School in France, where artists fled Paris to paint in a more pure setting emphasizing natural light. These schools along with a related California movement were also known as En plein air.

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Newlyn had a number of things guaranteed to attract artists: fantastic light, cheap living, and the availability of inexpensive models. The artists were fascinated by the fishermen’s working life at sea and the everyday life in the harbour and nearby villages. Some paintings showed the hazards and tragedy of the community’s life, such as women anxiously looking out to sea as the boats go out, or a young woman crying on hearing news of a disaster. Lamorna Birch was the prime mover behind the colony and the work done there. The later Forbes School of Painting, founded by Stanhope Forbes and his wife Elizabeth in 1899, promoted the study of figure painting. A present-day Newlyn School of Art was formed in 2011 with Arts Council funding providing art courses taught by many of the best-known artists working in Cornwall today.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lamorna, a nearby fishing village to the south, became popular with artists of the Newlyn School and is particularly associated with the artist S. J. “Lamorna” Birch who lived there from 1908.

 

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