This is part of an ongoing collaboration between Cornish artist Esme Lansdowne and London based poet Charlotte Hampshaw. Esme Lansdowne creates deeply layered art influenced by material and process; inspired the culture and heritage of Cornwall, Esme channels her iconic scenery into abstract painting, assemblage, sculpture, sound and film. Charlotte Hampshaw is a poet formerly based in Cornwall but now living in London, her spoken and written work explores memory, history and story-telling often moving between poetry and visual art. It has now been a year since their first collaborative exhibition "Resemblances" at the Fish Factory Arts in Cornwall and although they are far apart, they are still comparing, merging and assembling work to create a dialogue between poetry and art.
‘Porthoustock’ - acrylic, pastel and graphite on canvas by Esme Lansdowne 'Porthoustock' - poetry by Charlotte Hampshaw
In Porthoustock, the mill was once used to crush stone but is now disused. I was
winding round the edge of the peninsula, when I stop.
At the end of the world, I sit with knees drawn to chest,
and heart threaded taunt. I’ve steered so tense, for so long to ricochet with abandon chasing the screech of reckless gulls.
I have no passengers, only a heartbeat in my fingertips. To pursue the element of control to discover dust. How does the mill crush stone, what formations are hauled up by excavated minerals?
Over a mile away, a church spire warns mariners off Manacles Reef. Beneath the sea, rocks have jagged teeth and below the depths are lost wrecks. I feel the last of the sun as it slips. My car window partitioned between myself and the cliff.
2. 'Nansidwell' - Acrylic, pastel, spray paint, earth pigment on canvas by Esme Lansdowne
2. 'Nansidwell Flooded' - poetry by Charlotte Hampshaw
The grass is a marsh, the pipes burst
streets flooded, this is no accident today
but a long-term consequence and hidden state.
the infrastructure of deflection.
Suddenly our interiors were on edge by water
on the precipice of a creeping flood,
no house could protect us from sinking foundations
as we slipped ankle-deep into rising mud.
there is no house when the out seeps in;
we are separated thinly by graceless glass
and so our house became a sinking pier
security lost in the bog and marsh
no heroics or pedestals could protect
from a short sighted house built in a swamp
but it was the second surge I did not expect
to be set on fire by a stranger
who was hurriedly sent
to the bottom of our garden.
Suddenly our interiors were on edge by water,
on the precipice of a creeping flood,
but no house could protect us from furious fire
unleashed by a stranger in vitrified mud
3. 'Krowmere' - acrylic, pastel, spray paint, earth pigment, cotton, oil bar on board by Esme Lansdowne
3. 'Lyme Regis' poetry by Charlotte Hampshaw
sea searing grey and sky overcast,
following the river past the mill, across
the path which is held up over the water,
a winding bridge and over the old church which rises
up to reveal the sea.
There’s a pet cemetery We laughed with delight, considering ghostly cats haunting hounds, chasing each other when the moon is up. The foam-pierced sea braced itself with the score and the sea-front shops were stoic, emptied out in cold winter wood
and metal rusted rails. The gashed paint poor
and grizzled, misty air vapour blurred with rain,
subtly soaking us to the bone.
Wandering the high street, gloved hands folded
in my pocket, we gawp at gift shops.
The ocean a cradle for the damp
promenade, the big sea arcade
with garish green and dingy red
carpeted smoke, and the smell of metal, copper coins clattering
dispensing, trying for a trophy.
On the claw machines she squeezed
round the side of the glass and told me where
to aim, even though we agreed they were
rigged anyway. We got one! A tiny bear with a bottle
chain and love-heart shaped nose and we went
into an antique shop where they had old postcards
from the fifties and although the waves were
becoming agitated, we
climbed the cobb, the high wall, protecting
the town from the break. We were silhouetted
against vehement waves,
threat felled by our unbridled laughter,
heightened, exhilarated, wild in the gale
on edge by sea.
The day exists now within vacancies of air. It’s a picture for a postcard in my head, blurry details, unkept friendships. A past tense scrawl on the other side, copper and froth, winter railings, howls of laughter lost in the fray. Wind burnt cheeks on our eldest day.
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Editor: Charlotte Hampshaw
Words: Charlotte Hampshaw
Imagery: Esme Lansdowne