Making light work

Cyanotypes by Susan and Philip Bennetta (2017)

Musings from two local artists from thier recent residency in the Old Paraffin Store at St Anthony Head.

'We had the opportunity to spend a week at the former Paraffin Store for the Lighthouse, St Anthony Head, Roseland, working and responding, as artists and writers, to the building, its location, history and those who visited during the week'

'We carry only what will fit in our rucksacks, travelling lightly, sensitive to the building, place, folklore and history. We do not want to pre-define our response as "exhibition”.  So, how shall we respond to this National Trust site and building? 
No doubt our process will be informed by other projects, examples of which include an Allotment Shed, the Cliffs of Dover, the Beaney Institute, Canterbury, recent work on Bodmin Moor, Hannafore, Looe and the Net Loft, Polperro, where we took something of ourselves to the sites and made artwork, short films and written material, during and as a result of spending time there. For this residency, while following our process, we have also set the title, Making Light Work, which seems appropriate...'

Susan Bennetta studied fine art at the Guildford School of Art, Kent Institute of Art & Design and Open College of the Arts, gaining a first class honours degree from the University of the Creative Arts.  She was a health visitor and counsellor and worked on arts projects in women’s refuge and social inclusion schemes. She is artistic director of Community of Poets & Artists Press; a collection of her own poetry was published in 2004. She works in multi-media and lives in Cornwall.

Philip Bennetta is a practising artist and his work is presently concerned with fragment and place; encounters based on research, underlie his art practice. Working in subject sensitive media, often incorporating painting, printmaking, film, found objects and text, he actively seeks opportunities for collaborative projects. He lives in Cornwall and is a published poet, with an academic background in learning, psychology and the arts, who adopts an interdisciplinary approach to his work.

'The Ranger Team for South Cornwall National Trust kindly agreed to us being based at the former Paraffin Store to the Lighthouse, St Anthony Head, on the Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall for this short-term residency.
We had several trains of thought, in considering the project: the idea of light to dark, given current world events, including those close to home; of how this small building safely stored and held the potential for making light, so that those at sea could be forewarned of hazard and potential danger. We also wanted to travel lightly, as we have on other such projects, and so organised our research and process in consideration of what we could carry to and from the site in small rucksacks. 
As art students, many years before, we had experimented with printmaking and photographic techniques and, given our various trains of thought above, decided on the use of a natural sunlight Cyanotype process for Making Light Work.
The Lighthouse came into operation in 1835 and switched from Argon Lamps to Paraffin and then to electricity in 1954. Exact information is difficult to come by and we decided to make a generous number of cyanotypes, to reference our best guess as to the number of years it was fuelled by paraffin and the store operated for this purpose.
We considered a range of subjects from which to print, wanting them to be relevant to the St Anthony Head site. St Anthony (patron saint of lost objects and miracles, among other things) came to the rescue and so we agreed to make our prints from found objects, principally flora and detritus from cliff path and shoreline...'

(Words courtesy of Susan and Philip Bennetta).

Thank you from us to Sue and Philip for these words and for bringing the place to life. If you would like to use the Old Paraffin Store, please get in touch: roseland@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01872 580553