Last summer, painter Zoe Benbow and conceptual artist Sally Hampson joined John O'Carroll for a week in North Cornwall. This exhibition is a paean to the Cornish coastline and the sea.


Like so many people for so many reasons, both Sally, John and Zoe are bewitched by the sea. The sea is both mother and mirror, the inbreathe and expiration, the leaving and returning - artists and poets have always felt the sea is a conduit for the imagination, its euphonious sound seeping deep into their psyche. 

From where I stand on the SW coast path I can draw a line across the sea which edges past County Cork before heading into the deep atlantic ocean.


All three artists fuse reality and abstraction to create space for the viewer to find their own interpretation. Sally’s cryptic navigation charts reveal a knowledge of maritime anthropology and a poetic imagination, inherited from her Irish storytelling ancestors. Sally weaves to the pulse of the sea. She makes blankets, comforting and sensuous - her cloaks of memory - this time in Cornish hues: slate grey, cream and summer sky blue.


The flag is limp, a light south easterly this morning. Colours are hazy - raw umber melts into a grey blue sea lit with flecks of pale serpentine - the green stone worn by bards and the contemplative orders.


Zoe shows us semi abstract oil paintings which play with geometry - the lines of cliff and sea. Walking the coastal paths she made sketches and took photographs, analogue only, as digital phone images lack depth of field and physical body. In the studio Zoe puts her source material to work shaping her memories and her complex brushwork into gorgeous paintings trembling with human presence.


Dashing to the sea before dusk I head straight into the wind. Clouds and waves mock each other as they race and scroll. One black cormorant in a silver sea. 


John gives his abstract paintings elemental titles - his big gestural strokes glide about the plywood surface. Veils of thin oil paint interflow with gold and silver leaf to create romantic evocations of land and sea. John is presenting a set of distinctive wall pieces honouring our Celtic and coastal heritage and his love of archeology - markers of time and tide found over the moors and harbours of north Cornwall. 



April 16 - May 14, 2022 | Floor 2 + Online

Opening Reception: Saturday 16th April, 12 - 4pm with artists present and refreshments served


All artworks will be available to view online from April 16th, for additional information please contact lucy@circlecontemporary.co.uk