A most magical peninsula extending out of the farthest southwest of England, Cornwall is a land of rolling emerald green and tawny wheat fields bursting with kale, and courgettes, carrots, tomatoes and waving acres of grain, each field separated by quite untamed hedgerows–stone and earthen boundary mounds that are overgrown with Queen Anne’s lace, dandelions, morning glories, blackberries and puff ball conifers. Single tract serpentine roads, complete with careening double decker buses, thread through the farmlands out to the rocky outcrop at Land’s End where granite cliffs meet the Atlantic and where winds reach 60-80 mph.
A mile north is Sennen with its Caribbean colored sea rolling into a lovely white sand surfer/swimming beach and where you can climb up a proper hill to have the best view of Land’s End, far from the retail circus that crawls all over that site.
The countryside finds villages of stone row houses nestled among the farms.
Beauty abounds as well in the many gardens that grace cities like Penzance and St Ives– the National Trust has preserved a 25 acre estate grounds filled with meandering forest walks full of 20′ high rhodedendrons and majestic oaks and hydrangea and streamside gardens with every color imaginable–magenta foxglove, white daisies, bluebells, all with grazing butterflies and bees, birds singing in the sweet air.
My favorite garden full of a jungle of exotics and many of her sculptures surrounds Barbara Hepworth’s studio/home in St Ives. From a 20′ high geometric bronze to lovingly carved organic wooden pieces, their interior concavities brushed with gold leaf, Hepworth imitated, in elegant abstract form, the ocean beaten shapes of the Cornwall coast and the enigmatic piercings of ancient menhirs (Neolithic stone monuments) and the stone circles found all over the county–in fact Cornwall has the most Neolithic sites in all of Britain.
There’s art here as well. Tate St Ives had a show of sensual paintings and drawings by the Lebanese artist Huguette Caland. And for most of one sunny day I participated in a performance piece: “Another Hurling of the Silver Ball” wherein hundreds of townsfolk gambolled in procession from the highest point in St Ives, through a skate park and into a soccer field where tribes of young uniformed school boys bumped the 10′ high ball back and forth between goals, often being knocked over amidst gales of laughter. We all then followed the ball into another park where a formally costumed Celtic band played for a dance around and around the ball. The ball ended up suspended above the Tate rotunda with its artist playing an obscure digital sound piece created by beating on the ball .