play of light

Painting Commentaries

Play of Light on the Water at Poldhu Cove

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It is more usually Saint Ives, the Home of the Tate gallery in Cornwall, that people think of when we talk about the inspiring light quality that artists find on the Cornish coast. Poldhu Cove is one of those (quite literally) sparkling gems that you always can find aside the big famous things, if you look for them.

Here, like in so many places on the South Cornwall coast, when there is that southerly afternoon sun with its almost transcendental quality of light, and the tide is right, the water puts on an amazing light show. If you are in the sea, even just paddling, the disorienting motion of the water, together with this hypnotic play of light on the water’s surface, is enough to tip you into an altered state if you are that way inclined. The waves transform the otherwise still sunlight into a myriad of smaller but brilliantly fast dancing illuminations that all move at once on the surface of the water. How does this happen? The water is alive with sparkling reflections of reflections themselves, all interplaying with each other, and dependent on each other, but all created from that one original source - the Sun.

Play of Light captures this amazing spectacle of reflections of reflections, in a single moment in time. As I see it, this natural play of light, the experience of it, is a kind of symbol, or reminder of the truth behind how all our experiences arise. So as a painting, you could say it's not just a picture, but a reminder of how things happen, how things can be, and that there will always be another day in which the sun shines, and the light plays on the water.

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