This is a personal engagement by David with certain places and artists in the Land’s End peninsula, through his poems, essays and photographs.
Artists featured are Bryan Wynter, Tony O’Malley, Peter Lanyon, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Alfred Wallis, Colin Scott and the poet W.S. Graham; with the locations of Botallack, Wheal Owles, Carn Galva, Zennor, St Ives, Cot Valley and Lelant. David also explores the many zawns along this coast. (Zawn is a west Cornwall dialect word from the Cornish ‘sawan‘ meaning ‘chasm’.)
For the Cornish connoisseur, a valuable, essential and interesting book to possess.
As accomplished with his pen as he is with his camera.
Paperback, 64 pages illustrated in colour – £10 + pp
Stonelight is a showcase for David’s atmospheric photographs accompanied by complementary essays, lectures, obituaries, haiku, & elegies. Rocks, rust, ruins & wrecks are recurring motifs. Most of the places featured are favourite Cornish locations, including Zennor & Cot Valley. Artists include Tony O’Malley, Colin Scott, Nancy Wynne-Jones & Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. The photographs & haiku reveal an underlying Japanese & Chinese aesthetic. The book also takes a look at the origins of place-names in David’s home area of Oxfordshire & the Cotswolds; as well as examining Stafford Beer’s poetry, & how one of Beer’s books inspired a revolution in both Chilean politics & how we listen to music (thanks to Brian Eno’s mother-in-law).
A curious mish-mash. The Oxford Times
Powerful images of time. The Cornishman
Interesting & entertaining. Books Ireland
Excellent and beautifully reproduced photographs ... informative, useful and well written.
A stimulating collection of photos and prose.
Tim Robinson – Author & cartographer
A Delight. Dennis O’Driscoll – Poet & Critic
Shows a fresh & quirky eye.
Andrew Lawson – Author & photographer
A very good read; loose but committed, serious but also light-hearted, specific yet wide-reaching and full of interesting and informative gems.
Russell Mills – Artist & author
Paperback, 128 pages, illustrated in colour – £10 + pp
Tony O’Malley (1913-2003) was one of Ireland’s foremost painters
of the latter half of the 20th century. Born in Callan, County Kilkenny, he was a late starter and learned his art surreptitiously while working as a bank clerk all over Ireland for 25 years. In 1955 he visited St Ives in Cornwall on a painting holiday and was astonished to find a thriving and diverse artistic community. He moved there in 1960 and stayed for 30 years, before returning to Ireland with an international reputation. Cornwall was the kind of ancient Celtic country where he felt at home and his art developed in unexpected ways. He also found romance when, in his sixtieth year, he married the Canadian painter Jane Harris (less than half his age).
This book chronicles his tremendously creative Cornish years
with many photographs never previously published.
An admirable hommage.
Seamus Heaney – Poet & Nobel Prizewinner
Utterly fascinating, It’s a marvellous resource for those of us who loved the man & his great work.
Dennis O’Driscoll – Poet & critic
An excellent book on O’Malley; really captures the scene in St Ives and environs with sharp insights and an elegant style.
Patrick J. Murphy – Former Chairman of the Irish Arts Council
An interesting read & the interviews with O’Malley are enlightening.
Paperback, 96 pages, illustrated in colour – £10
Nominated for a Holyer an Gof Award 2016 (runner-up)
The poet W. S. Graham (1918-1986), though born in Greenock, Scotland, spent most of his adult life, with his companion Nessie Dunsmuir, in Cornwall. Since his death his reputation as one of the most distinctive and essential voices of twentieth-century literature has steadily increased.
David Whittaker’s essay chronicles Sydney Graham’s mature years in Mevagissey, Gurnard’s Head, Zennor and Madron. Throughout his work Graham’s poems provide a persistent sense of place – especially the ever-present sea in all its shifting moods. He also frequently referred back to his native Scotland with a certain sense of self-exile’s guilt.
It was Graham’s luck to be a part of the dynamic post-war St Ives community of visual artists. His friends included Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton, Bryan Wynter (for whom he wrote outstanding elegies), Ben Nicholson, Sven Berlin, Tony O’Malley, Terry Frost, Nancy Wynne-Jones and Alan Lowndes, plus many more. Graham’s uncompromising dedication to his own writerly art would not have been possible without the abundant generosity and loyalty of this good-fellowship and this book traces his vital relationships with these artists. Most of the painters he associated with were challenging the habits of pictorial representation and their ideas and methods of working further shaped Graham’s development as a poet.
Give Me Your Painting Hand is illustrated throughout and includes material not previously published, along with four of Graham’s notable poems for painters.
This is a very well produced and attractively presented publication. It gives a short but vivid account of the life of the poet WS Graham who befriended most of the members of the St Ives colony of artists during the 1950s,’60s & ’70s.
The photographs are an interesting mixture of portraits and snap-shots. All are of very high quality in terms of composition and shed real light on the various personalities described. Good use has been made of original letters and doodles by the subject to provide variety and to give additional insight into Graham’s personality.
Whittaker effectively draws on correspondence, interviews, photographs and the poet’s own words to flesh out the bare bones of Graham’s life. The four featured poems, each written on the death of a major artist, Wallis, Lanyon, Hilton and Wynter are very moving and show the depth of his respect and friendship for these four men. This a vivid portrait of a committed local artist, his talent, his struggles and his faults.
Holyer an Gof judge’s summing-up
A little masterpiece.
Brian Wall – Sculptor & former Professor of Art University of California
A wonderfully fresh & sympathetic account of Graham’s life among artists, and an invaluable source when setting the scene for the new poems.
Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod University of East Anglia
This beautifully designed book is an affectionate portrait of the poet … This is a useful celebration of W. S. Graham in Cornwall.
Tears in the Fence (Blog)
Paperback, 64 pages, illustrated – £10 + pp
Nominated for a Holyer an Gof Award 2019 (runner-up)
The name of St Ives has been synonymous with the visual arts since early in the last century, and in particular with more experimental artists since the arrival of Hepworth, Nicholson and Gabo in 1939.
But the little harbour town also acts as a portal to the wider enchanting and mysterious Land’s End peninsula. David Whittaker, who has been exploring the region for four decades, portrays an assortment of colourful figures who were lured to the area, thereby having their lives and work enriched and transformed, including Bryan Wynter, Tony O’Malley, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Jeremy Le Grice, Breon O’Casey, Michael Canney (Curator of Newlyn Art Gallery), Michael Snow, Nancy Wynne-Jones and her husband, the Irish sculptor Conor Fallon; the Lamorna trio of reclusive eccentrics – Marlow Moss, Ithell Colquhoun and John Tunnard; and the poet Sydney Graham (recording his fruitful relationships with painters). David also tells the remarkable story of Rowena Cade and the origins of the Minack Theatre; and he contributes a tender account of the caring art of Roger Slack, GP to St Ives for nearly forty-years.
Furthermore, there is a judiciously chosen miscellany of important writings by many of these artists not easily available elsewhere.
Peter Lanyon, a native of St Ives, is represented by a liberal selection of his own astute writings on the creative process, while his intrepid spirit pervades the entire book.
As a photographer, David has developed an aficionado’s eye for rust, rocks, ruins and wrecks in the landscape and he provides us with a haunting medley of these images. In addition there is a valuable section on the meanings of many exotic Cornish place-names, which add to the distinctive character of the place.
St Ives Allure is a unique personal record of people and places, the result of David’s love and passion for the elemental land of Cornwall.
A delightful book. it has a great sense of feel & understanding for West Penwith. The piece on Sydney Graham is very insightful & I’m sure will help to keep the memory of the great poet alive.
Brian Wall – Sculptor & former Professor of Art University of California
An excellent new book – full of good stuff: moving & interesting & great evocative photos.
Mel Gooding – Art Critic & author
A totally delightful mixture of memories, people & places.
Informative & generously illustrated, St Ives Allure is excellent value & the perfect introduction for those wishing to know what the art scene in St Ives was like in the 1960s & ‘70s.
St Ives Times & Echo
David Whittaker writes fluently & cogently. His style is easy & his intelligence is both critically astute & humanly warm ... St Ives Allure is a very readable, fulfilling, revealing, gentlemanly & rewarding book ... David succeeds in introducing us & leaving a series of lasting impressions, a verbal exhibition – no mean feat.
Western Morning News
St Ives Allure is a thrill from front to back. The mix of views of West Penwith (up close, from afar, rusting & weathered, so, so good) setting the context for the experiencing of people & the Cornishness of places. It gets the whole book working like a Peter Lanyon painting & a Sydney Graham poem should.
Martin Lanyon – Painter
Paperback, 196 pages, illustrated in colour – £20 + pp