Interacting with the art works

 The aim of the exhibition was to engage the audience with the art, to help them enquire a little beyond what could be a fleeting browse. To help them we have provided several different means, including I Spy Sheets, Quest Cards, Booklets and large question labels with post its. 


The I Spy sheets are hugely successful as they provide a starting point for conversation between invigilators and visitors. They also slowed the progress around the galleries so that people could take in more.

The Labels

The transparent, extended labels looked good and contained some information about the artist, the artwork and made links with the theme of the exhibition. It was satisfying to see how many people were reading them.

our booklets of additional information
Laminated, bound booklets contained the additional research on artists undertaken by members of the Look Group.

The Booklets

The booklets contained additional information about the artists particularly other examples of their work. Visitors did not voluntarily pick them up. The Look Group decided to dismantle one booklet and mount the A4 sheets below the appropriate artworks. Viewers were interested to read further.


Quest Card
The Quest questions, for which we are grateful to Tate St Ives, have been mounted attractively, laminated and collected on rings. They are lovely to hold and excellent at triggering thoughts and discussion. However, people do not voluntarily pick them up. Nevertheless, two local primary schools are bringing groups of children to the galleries especially to use them with the I Spy sheets and Budehaven (GCSE and A level art students) are likely to use some as homework. We will certainly be using them at future Look Group meetings.
Question Labels
Questions and labels
Five artworks have additional transparent labels that ask thought provoking questions and ask the viewer to jot down some thoughts.


Jacqui is hanging a question sheet below which visitors post their thoughts.






The questions on the wall give pause as people look at the artworks even if they choose not to write down their thoughts. The notes that are posted provide some amusement when read but many provoke further thought.

The comments:

Louise McClary; (c) Louise McClary; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Up the Creek by Louise McClary Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

What is Louise saying?   

comments include the following:

The moon in a shopping trolley

The Lord only knows!

I am quite hollowed out. Rome took my pearls and my tin; London took my granite and copper; the English took my Tongue; Wars took my men. Now tourism gnaws at my soul. I am quite hollowed out.

To relax…

Oh my head hurts

A child about 3years old said: It’s a head in an ice-cream cone. 

Jewel colours and contemplative head. The picture includes two Cornish icons: a mineral wagon and a viaduct. In the wagon a granite head (Easter Island?) Cycladic sculpture) smiles cryptically. The spirit of Cornwall dreaming of the future which she only knows… This is the painting I’d most like to steal and take home to Liskeard.

May be tied to one place, but in own mind can travel anywhere, hence head in a wheeled wagon that could go over the railway viaduct into the great blue yonder.

We had an email from Louise McClary and she said:

“Up the Creek” was part of a series of work inspired if you like by viaducts, I loved the form of them (still do!). I went through a phase of just painting    large heads, dismembered in a way  to    express a form of isolation  -this one appears in a large bucket on wheels, stuck and going nowhere. -A difficult time in my life so all was being expressed in these rather raw paintings- all in bright primary colours as I felt this expressed raw emotion best..

Portrait of Alison’ by Andy Hughes 1993
Portrait of Alison by Andy Hughes Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

What do you think Andy is saying about Alison?

Alison has seen a gorgeous looking man. Her heart sends a message to her brain that sends forth the “vibes!” OR she is witnessing an accident to her beloved!

She feels influenced by her faith (cross) emotions (heart) and common sense (brain) Teenage influences – torn between these factors.

Nice to see you again

He’s gone off her in a big way!

Andy sent us an email:

This was made quite some time ago and was part of a series. I had made a series of various portraits which were attempts at creating images that explored some aspects of the formal qualities of both the still photograph and painted surface: something which recently I have returned to. All the portraits in the series had symbols and marks on the print surface, a sort of scarring effect which was partly informed by the fact that my mother had a brain tumour and had undergone a brain operation. Seeing a head with staples and stitches on was somewhat dramatic and also emotional.”

Fishing Boat 1966 by Alan Lowndes
Fishing Boat by Alan Lowndes Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

What can you see?

Bob said Hi

Golden composition, mixed colours, simple forms, bold flat forms separated by a dark outline (cloisonnism)

Calm and serenity – everything in place as it should be

First thought: that it was painted by a junior school child – but know it isn’t.

The fishing boat is pulling out to sea but with no crew preparing to fish.

Cornish Bungalow by Brian Hanscombe
Cornish Bungalow pastel by Brian Hanscomb

Why did Brian draw this subject?

Structure and order amongst the natural landscape – a juxtaposition as both cannot exist in one space.

-because he had nothing better to do.

Chalk and cheese

Because this is his dream house

The sterile impact on nature

To show the sterile view of modern life against all the kaleidoscope of Bodmin Moor’s past.

Because Hockney painted bungalows in California

To show his disgust at a modern square bungalow at complete odds with the rural countryside!

A profoundly uncomfortable pastel drawing, beautifully observed in both of its constituent parts. On the one hand we can see an image as a critique of modern architecture: a bland bungalow with a geometric lawn and an intrusive leylandii hedge is set in a rounded and weathered moorland landscape. On closer inspection the moorland reveals the clay hills, a distant crane and a stone circle. These were intrusive in their time and have now been absorbed into the moors. Will the same thing happen to the bungalow in fifty years’ time?

I love the disturbing perspective: where are we standing as we look at the picture? Will the bungalow plot lift off like some dystopic magic carpet to land somewhere else? An angry picture: Eternal –v- Contemporary. What is it saying about the way we live now?

I’ve heard you comment as you pass by the bottom gate in your North Face jackets and your new Berghaus boots. The leylandii, the pebble dashing, the concrete – you don’t like it.

I sit by the double- glazed picture window, my slippers warm on the under-floor central heating.

I got near on half a million for the granite farmhouse, the barns and the fifteen acres of stone-walled fields – enough for my retirement home and a couple of acres of moorland for the remaining sheep.

It was marketed as a property with “equine potential!” The new owners have spared no expense: new Delabole slate roofs, limestone plaster, “heritage” windows. They’re very active in the local community Pony Club and the P.T.A. – not the Hunt or the Church of course… And they’re having a bit of bother with the planning permission for their sand school.

I still shiver when I think of the winters in that house: the damp rising through the granite, the unforgiving slate flagstones, the wind whining through the warped sash windows. Forty years I lived there with Brian. Forty years of making do while the sheep fetched less and less at market and the cattle barely made up for the cost of their feed. The kids left long ago, too far away to even come for Christmas.

When Brian died, I said to myself, “Enough.” No more bleaching the mildew on the weather-side wall of the parlour; no more huddling over the bills in the kitchen in front of the range; no more icy mist in front of my face as I climb the stairs to bed. “Enough!”

So that’s why I sit in a house you despise, warm for the first time in my life, with a couple of thousand in the bank. The moors are all very well for the young and those who don’t have to make a living from them. I’ll die here and be buried with my ancestors. But I’ll be warm and dry till then.

(c) DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Figure by Roger Hilton Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

“The only way to understand a picture is to look at it” (Roger Hilton)

Rather than puzzling what it is that they represent it is better to be “employed in exploring what it is that Hilton’s paintings make us feel, and in trying to SEE how it is that they make us feel it”  (ICA exhibition catalogue 1958)



What do you see?

What does this painting make YOU feel?

There’s that Picasso Pierot hat – but it is on top of a boxy brown body with what looks like two white peg legs. Where are his arms? Is it a white ruff below his neck? He certainly stands his ground.

Well-fed figure supported by legs that resemble glasses filled with wine and a “busy” belly.

Is something trying to come out of the figure?

It makes me feel as though the person is tied up and cannot move.

Large body, small head, standing full square. He seems to say,”Don’t mess with me,” but is he really intimidating? Don’t think so.

Looks like a Cornish miner with body of an engine house.

The victim of a bully imagines he is big enough and powerful enough to defeat his foe.


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