- Steve’s PR in connection with his show at the Great Atlantic Mapworks Gallery, St. Just, near Penzance, Cornwall, UK - June 2005: tracks across an ancient land - an artist's journey through west Cornwall along the most powerful leylines in Britain.
The idea of a show based around earth energies came from my discovery that the Michael leyline runs straight through my kitchen in Marazion! Using the book: "The sun and the serpent" by local authors Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst as my initial guide, from September 2004 through February 2005 I dowsed my way along some of the most enchantingly beautiful tracts of land in the south west. Following both the Michael line, from high point to high point, and its feminine counterpart, the Mary line, weaving its way mainly through the valleys, I have attempted to tap into the essence of spirit which connects this ancient land to all who have trodden it before, and all those who in future will: that prime intelligence which compellingly whispers 'I and the Land are One'. To quote from the book: 'Hidden beneath the St. Michael associations appears to be a race memory from the very remote time when humanity wandered the land in sympathy with the cyclic rythms of the universe'.
The whole process has been richly rewarding for me, with sketches, photos and paintings, along with sound recordings en route that I have interwoven into a soundscape.
This show is the first in a series of exhibitions I am planning over the next few years in various galleries across the country in which I will trace these two powerful energy lines through Glastonbury, Avebury and on toward the east coast.
Tracks across an ancient land -
there is power in this ancient and holy land, the like of which, if only realised, would lift our tired expectant race to that transcendant realm of which we have dared to dream as children of the mother earth we do not need to wait for death, for the whisper to become thunder: 'I and the land are One'
- Read an interview with Steve by Patrick Iberi of Sentinel Poetry and Arts magazine:
Sentinel Poetry Magazine (Issue of July 2007)
- Black Art Promotions press release (March 2008):
Ex-Formula One Promotion Agency signs Cornish artist
Earlier this month the initial contract was signed between Black Art Promotions and their first client, Penzance-based landscape artist Steve Slimm, marking perhaps a subtle shift in dynamics between painting artists, the media, and the general public.
Having spent a decade of the 90s successfully discovering and promoting high-calibre racing drivers such as Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton, all of whom went on to become household names in the world of Formula One motor racing, Stephen Black has decided to take a closer look at the arena of art, Cornish art in particular, since his move to Cornwall in 2001. Was there possibly a missing link between what’s obvious to him as incredible talent, and the recognition and acclaim afforded to artists who are perceived as ‘having made it’ in the art world? Taking as his starting point the Cornish artist Kurt Jackson, now of international repute with a multi-million pound turnover, he soon realised that this kind of achievement, as with his former motor racing success stories, does not happen on its own, but depends upon appropriate PR and promotion.
He explains “I think there are essentially two things that need to happen: firstly a standard of excellence has to be attained by an artist; but of equal importance, people need to be told about it. Especially in the world of visual art, although knowing what they personally like, people tend to rely on being told what is ‘good art’, what is ‘worthwhile hedging’, before investing their money in an artist's work. Unfortunately a lot of extremely talented artists, both visually and otherwise, are poor businessmen and unable to successfully promote themselves. I believe Steve Slimm is a prime example of such an artist here in Cornwall, exhibiting a profusion of talent that is virtually wasted. Over the past 30 years he has acquired a hesitant local reputation, but shown very little inclination toward self-promotion. Even now his work is not represented in any London or major city galleries or museums. I even had to persuade him it was about time he got himself a business card!”
Apparently Black Art Promotions, although vaguely recalling the name “Steve Slimm” through occasional gallery browsings, finally ‘discovered’ him auctioning his work on eBay for as little as £9.95 – “This work is totally wasted here!” was indeed an understatement!
In his defence Steve says “I suppose my upbringing has something to do with it. From an early age I was brought up as a Jehovah's Witness, and believed it was wrong to make a name for yourself in the world. Although I left the religion over 10 years ago, I guess these things run pretty deep. When it comes to my profession, I still struggle with a sense of belonging, although I am now slowly beginning to believe in what I do. I have always resisted joining societies or art groups. I suppose I've always held the belief that if it's going to stand at all, my work needs to stand on its own merits; and I need to do this entirely on my own. The thought that anyone could actually derive benefit from my work is still somewhat foreign to my thinking. The eBay excursion was a somewhat tepid and desperate attempt to connect with a wider audience, but I soon realised it's an entirely inappropriate context in which to establish any sort of quality reputation. When Stephen first approached me and said his company wanted to promote me, I had all but given up with everything other than painting. I'd had the worst financial year ever, I was living mainly off my partner's salary, and however hard I tried nothing seemed to change. I think sometimes you just have to let everything go before anything can happen for you. Boy, was I grateful though!”
Steve Slimm began his painting career in 1979, studying for a while under the late John Miller. From time to time during his early career Steve would go to John when he felt discouraged. From the start John believe Steve to be a visionary painter, and always gave him great encouragement to keep going.
Black Art Promotions eventually found Steve’s studio overflowing with stunning works of amazing quality, such as the picture shown here of St Michael's Mount in Marazion, an oil painting on canvas approximately a metre square.
Already some are hailing Steve Slimm as ‘the Turner of Cornish contemporary art’, and it seems auspiciously apt that his contract with Black Art promotions was agreed upon at the Godolphin hotel in Marazion, in full view of the magnificent St Michael's Mount, where once the greater artist J.W.M. Turner himself came to paint.
- Steve’s preamble to his show at the Atlantic Mapworks Gallery, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK in August 2008
Coastal Cornwall - a Wet Perspective
I can't believe it - not another Cornish summer where it never stops raining! And yet there is something uniquely majestic about the Cornwall coastline in the wind and rain, whatever time of year. It’s almost as though the ancient land cries out for the elements to complete its particular form of magic.
For me, there is no experience quite so purgatively transforming as walking the cliff paths in a force 10, rain lashing against my stinging face, squinting at the foaming sea below, trying to make myself as transparent as possible, so everything passes through me with a quiet whisper: “ The land, the elements and I are all one.”
This show in some way depicts that rawness of Cornwall, and therefore that side of my own nature. I hope the paintings touch a chord somewhere within you - and also by the time you see them – it’s stopped bloody raining!
- Steve Slimm (August 2008)
Timid Artist Barricades Door for Open Studio Event
While 120 artists across the county throw open their doors to the public for the 2010 Cornwall Open Studios event, Penwith painter Steve Slimm (aka I, me, myself) is petrified in his studio at The Old Factory, Germoe Crossroads, near Penzance - and wishes everyone would go away!
“Why did I agree to it?” - I asked myself now, knowing of course that the barricade is all in the mind. I've always been so private - so why change now? Thirty years of near anonymity - not bad for an artist who manages to eke out a living by his work. That suits me fine. I've always hated exhibition openings, (although I do actually go to my own these days), I've never even made myself a business card, so why the sudden urge for such terrible exposure?
Maybe it has something to do with my recent decision to finally ‘sort my finances’ - aided and abetted perhaps by the fact I'm now featured as an artist in the UK national curriculum for A-level study? Whatever lies behind the mad decision to ‘do the Open Studios’ this year I can't help being reminded of last year's Golowan Festival - being stood in the queue, having paid, and waiting to climb aboard that dreadful swinging pendulum thing on the Penzance seafront. What possessed me to be so driven, I can't imagine! And the subsequent experience of being suspended upside down, 100 foot high in the clear Cornish air, twirling freely, only to plummet the next second at breakneck speed toward the ground and up again to the joyful cries of the teenage girl next to me, shouting “Let go - let go!” - well I still have nightmares, put it that way! And now my very own personal studio open to the rummaging public over nine days - and me having to be there all that time, whatever the weather - I'm not sure what thought horrifies me the most.
So two days to go, (or is it ‘to let go’?) and the place is still its usual artfully contrived mess, the box of brochures I’m supposed to distribute still waiting patiently on the sideboard, most of my promotion jobs left undone, and me still trying frantically to catch up on work for my July show at the Over the Moon Gallery, St Agnes - as well as supplying several galleries shouting for more! At least by the time most people read this, the event will be half over, thank God, with peace and quiet once again on the horizon. I really hope I’ll feel better than when I got off the pendulum - that's all I can say! That was a kind of nausea mixed with euphoric transcendence - plus a hint of not quite believing it had actually happened. Maybe my Open Studio will be similar? But anyway, should you happen to be one of those determined art lovers who just have to go studio rummaging, and decide to drop in on me between 11am and 4pm up to Sunday 6th June, please spare a thought for a delicate artistic constitution - and tread lightly through the clutter of my life. On behalf of my inner artist Steve Slimm - I sincerely thank you!
Contributed (Steve Slimm May 2010)
- Read an interview with Steve by gallery owner Kate at Bils and Rye Gallery, N. Yorkshire
- And read what's been written in 2015 by a blogger known as SkyLightRain: Light and Power with Steve Slimm
- Read about Steve in the article Forever Changing in August 2016 edition of Cornwall Living magazine.
- And a further article in Cornwall Living - A Leading Light.