Inspired by our fantastic Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings exhibition the shop team have been exploring all things Cornish!
Currently featured at The Courtauld Shop, is a lovely sculpture by the Cornish artist, Jonathan Fuller. We’ve had a chance to speak with the artist to discover more about his unique and stunning works.
Q&A with Jonathan Fuller
Q: What attracted you to using sea glass as a medium?
JF: I grew up in Cornwall, in North Cornwall, and it was something that I always collected as a child. Whenever we traveled to the coast we would collect it and it began mounting up around me. Upon moving back to Cornwall I decided to put it to use. It was something I started initially in my textile career that was different from the normal day job. My first sculpture took about a year to make and everyone who came to see it just loved it. Galleries became interested as well and it’s something I do whenever I can now. Even though it’s waste, the sea transforms it into something lovely and smooth and I wanted to use a recycled waste material to make artworks.
Q: Do you spend time everyday looking for glass?
JF: Not every day as I make the frames and mounts that go along with the sculptures and that can take a very long time. I often take a beach or coastal walk so I will be looking. It’s really just luck of the draw and depends what you find.
Q: How long does it take you to collect enough sea glass to create a work?
JF: It varies. The main colours I find are white, brown and green. It’s the aquamarines and blues that are harder to find. I’ve got a lot of the more obvious colours but it is the special tones that make the pieces unique. It’s very difficult to put a time on it.
Q: What do you draw inspiration for your works from?
JF: It’s about colour and form and texture. It comes from my textile background. It’s the simplicity of the shapes, whether it’s the ring or the circle and the linear pieces. What I find interesting about what I find is that with the changing of the tides, four times a day, it’s a circular movement. It’s always a motion of change.
Q: Do you have a favorite coastal line you have visited throughout your travels? And what was so special about it?
JF: I traveled a lot with my textile career but when you’re working and doing trade it is always difficult to visit the coast. We lived in London for ten years my wife and I. I always missed the Cornish coast. I do not believe you can get much better than the Cornish coast. There are real differences in the Cornwall coast alone that are fascinating. If I had to pick a coast I would have to pick the one I live on. There is a beach in America (Fort Bragg) that I would love to visit as it is made entirely of glass and there are a few beaches in Hawaii that are spectacular. But if I had to be honest, I think my little piece of coast is just fine.
Q: Is there a specific artist or genre that influences your work?
JF: I’m very fond of the St.Ives school. One of my favorite is Peter Lanyon who is in your gallery at the moment. I think Lanyon is definitely one of my favorites as well. I wanted to see the exhibition when I came up to drop the sculptures off. I couldn’t actually find parking when I was there. But I’ll be up very soon to see it.
Q: Does sea glass hold a specific meaning for you? Is it representative of something you could share with us?
It’s something I’ve always been attracted to. I spend my time looking at the sand and not the view. It can be quite compulsive and you keep hoping you’ll find another bit. I also really like the fact that it’s recycled and that it’s had a life cycle; some may be two years old or two hundred years hold. They all have a history. Sometimes they have words on them. You can tell where they’ve come from sometimes.
Q: I know you have a whippet dog, Nell, and that you were hoping to train her to retrieve sea glass. Has that come to fruition?
She’s a lovely dog but she is more of a chasing dog. So to answer your question, I would have loved to but I am afraid the answer is no.
Q: I know you own a Will Eastham Surfboards red long board. Is that going well?
I’m doing pretty good. I’m not as good as him because he is incredible. But it’s a lovely thing just to look at let alone ride. I was in recently since it’s been pretty mild so it’s been going very well.
Q: What does the future hold for you and your work?
I found a beach recently with very white wood on it. There are all kinds of twigs and branches that the sea has basically stripped the bark off and the sun has bleached. They appear almost like bones. I am currently making a piece made from these sticks and branches. I also look at different forms of marine debris such as plastics. There are so many human things that have been discarded that have ended up in the ocean. It saddens me the amount of wildlife that is negatively affected by it. I would like to make more pieces to highlight the impact we are having on our oceans.
Own a piece of Jonathan Fuller work for yourself from our Shop.
Book now to see Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings