Peter Crumpler (New Art Works)
A Photographic Exhibition at the Penzance Art Gallery
The Poles have a saying "Nothing good comes from the East"- a view shared on a more mundane and parochial level by some denizens of Penwith. The Poles were subject to incipient invasion by the Russians. Here, there may be a certain resistance to the spread of new ideas; a view challenged by the energetic displays put on by Vaughan Warren and Melanie-Anne Camp that display both local sensitivity and international context. In short, just what is needed. The Penzance Art Gallery is situated on the East of Penzance, opposite the Station and is currently mounting a splendid exhibition of Peter Crumpler's photographs on computer, on silk and on paper. By excellent chance it also offers a modern counterpoint to the Richards Brothers work at Penlee House. The exhibition is small but contains portraits of local personalities, including a pensive picture of Vaughan, street scenes from Chinon and Rousillon and delicate, gently dynamic hangings of Japan. It is good to see such a variety of digital images in a local gallery and these should stimulate discussion and raise it to a higher level.
Peter mostly uses a Nikon digital SLR. This gives the added advantage over traditional optical cameras of being able to review instantly the image and adjust controls accordingly. His eye is warmly drawn to the Cornish landscape and light. He also enjoys portraiture with added benefit of direct engagement with the subject and his work is influenced by a comprehensive knowledge of his favourite photographers.
There is a cabinet of Peter's collection of old and earlier cameras which lends a temporal reminder about photography, its transitory nature. This is emphasised by the flicker of the images on computer screens and the gentle undulations in the poetic silk hangings. Indeed it is these silk printed imprints which make a visit so unusual. As Peter says "They can be lit from in front or behind and each method gives a new feeling to the subject. I love the movement you can get as you walk near the image-it is very contemporary and has a huge range of applications-we've thought about curtains and even roller blinds." They are produced with the assistance of Pete Williams at Penwith Graphics. There is feeling for the local landscape in the sepia toned landscape of the "Cape Cornwall" as a backdrop. This contrasts with the silk of "Digging", agricultural implements and spades from the gardener's outhouse at Trevarno Gardens or that of the jolly and convivial bottles of Loire wine. The subjects are varied but Peter Crumpler has a lyrical eye, particularly for the scenery of West Penwith.. This comes across in the variety of colour of the sea in his picture of Godrevy. The feeling for colour also comes out in the rich burnt umber of "Eye of the Horse". There is a feeling for time, reminiscent of Robert Doisneau, in the street scene of London's Southbank chanteuse and pianist "Lily Farthing" Although there are just 26 photographs most have something moving or original to convey. A time honoured subject is portrayed in the light falling on the trees or streams in Trevaylor gives a clarity of image and it is now difficult to look at such fragile environments without examining the image for human impact in the form of discarded tin cans in the undergrowth.