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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

@Porthleven_Art auction - your chance to own a unique work of art and piece of history!

Some background - just a few of the Porthleven characters and boats who have fished from Newlyn

Today, Porthleven Harbour supports a fleet of small inshore fishing boats and related businesses. It has a long history of boat building, most famously Kittos yard that built boats for customers all over the world including the Hudson Bay Company.  Many local fishermen served their 'time' as apprentices in Kittos and Olivers' boatbuilding yards.

John 'Twinkle' Trenerry in full voice.

Among them, one of Newlyn's best known fishing characters, John 'Twinkle' Trenerry. He owed his nickname to the boss of the boatbuilders he served his apprenticeship with in Porthleven who had to put up with his incessant chatter and antics - his son, Tristan, carries on the family fishing tradition as skipper of the Newlyn netter, Silver Dawn.  
Twinkle wasn't the only singing fisherman; others included Porthlevener, Bobby Jewel, lay preacher and skipper lastly of the trawler New Dawn, he would often entertain the inshore trawlers (when there were about 20 working in and around Mount's Bay) late at night by singing over the VHF radio on channel 8 just after all hands discussed the midnight shipping forecast - Bobby's voice was as gentle and sweet as his character...



other Porthleven boats included the trawler Gamrie Bay, 



skippered and owned by father and son team David and Kevin Williams, seen here helping the Fern land her prawns...



or the ex-prawn trawler that was converted to netting and named the Alice Louise for Jeremy Hosking, seen here just arriving in Newlyn from Scotland...

Pioneer in Newlyn before she was restored.
there was the Pioneer built by in Porthleven over 100 years ago and for some years owned by Cyril Gascoigne - brother of TV's University Challenge first host, Bamber - he dived, single-handed, for sea urchins from her...

Porthlevener, Billy Pyle wearing that coat he had for eons is looking down from the quay as the Silver Harvester brails her catch of mackerel ashore in 1980.



also a lay preacher, Michael Hosking owned and skippered the largest boat fishing from Newlyn at the time, the Silver Harvester, in her time she beam trawled, mid-water and pair-trawled for mackerel, bottom trawled and controversially netted for tuna...

Billy Pyle was one of a number of Porthleveners who also crewed for Bill Tonkin aboard the Bonny Mary which was built in Porthleven in the 1960s. Billy Pyle is seen here on the left 'mending' (unraveling the snoods from the main line and putting the hooks back in order around the edge of the basket ready for baiting and shooting) a basket of lines as skipper Bill Tonkin gaffs a huge ling aboard...


while, bent over, fellow Porthlevener, Kipper guts a conger eel, he held the key job as shooter aboard the Bonny Mary...

Robert Tobbs owned the white tosher, (r) Girl Penny
at that time Robert Tobbs was also crew on the Bonny Mary, he left to take command of the tosher, Girl Penny...


The Marina down by the head with a full load of mackerel in Newlyn in 1980.

Bobby 'Boxer' Laity's Marina trawled for mackerel, white fish and was one of a pioneering fleet of boats langoustine fishing on the Smalls - Boxer was yet another Porthlevener handy with his fists, hence the nickname.

And so to the...

Worst winter storms in memory. 

The winter of 2013-2014 saw the worst winter weather to hit the UK and particularly the south west for a generation, maybe more. In all, ten severe storms raged from November through to February and kept the entire Cornish fishing fleet in their respective harbours and the markets all but devoid of fish for the entire period.

In Porthleven, apart form the hardship caused through the loss of income, further damage was inflicted on the fishing community, on February the 5th 2014, huge seas smashed the timber baulks used to keep damaging seas out of the inner harbour. 

The following videos were all shot on that day and capture the ferocity of the storm in full.













Porthleven Art Baulk Project


The Porthleven Baulk Project is an imaginative, creative fundraiser. It is about creating beauty and hope from devastation, by using the broken baulks, destroyed by fierce nature and re-forming them into a wide variety of unique and stunning art pieces. Out of loss and darkness comes hope.

On that fateful day, ten boats sank in Porthleven harbour, and many fishermen also lost floats, nets and crab pots when the huge waves crashed through into the inner harbour. Work had already been impossible due to the extreme, on-going weather conditions and then the storms destroyed their means to catch.

The storm of 2013/ 2014 lasted for six months. During that difficult time, the Charity the Fishermen’s Mission, supported fishermen and their families. It was soon decided by the trustees and the board, that support was needed urgently. Payments of up to £500 would be given to fishermen upon the receipt of one household bill in arrears. Over £110,000 was given to fishing families in the South West alone.


The Porthleven baulks, individually are two tonnes of wood bolted together and with substantial metal caps. Normally, they are lifted into the harbour entrance by a crane. As a resident of Porthleven and a Regional Fundraising Manager for the Fishermen’s Mission (in Cornwall). Local Porthlevener and Mission man, Julian Waring walked past the devastating scene daily formed an idea; 
permission to use the wood was granted and the Porthleven Baulk Project was launched.



Unique Auction Opportunity

At least 80 artists have already agreed to paint on to the wood (in canvas cut sizes). Others are working with the wood to create mosaics, etchings, ceramic and glass. Craftspeople are creating items of furniture. Each piece will have a letter of signed authenticity to prove that these pieces are from the Porthleven baulks.

This is a unique opportunity to support The Fishermen’s Mission by purchasing not only a piece of social history but a celebration of enduring talent.

As Through The Gaps has enjoyed the company of sailing with fellow Porthleven fishermen over the years and was therefore honoured to be asked to contribute one of the pieces - this work is dedicated to them and those who fish out of the port today.




Blank canvas, always a daunting moment...


so a few coats of white gesso to seal the wood...



after watching the videos above and studying a number of photos...



an idea for the composition was formed...



 - one that would include the shattered end of the timber where the actual baulk (12" x 12" square) was snapped like a twig in two by the huge seas



on the easel ready for the first strokes...



to outline the basic image...



and creating the basic scene of the breakwater and iconic clockhouse...



awash with the huge seas and air filled with spume...



the masking tape was finally removed to create a border and the complete image recording the scene on February 5th at the height of the storm that destroyed so much.

At 6:30pm on Sunday Feb 5th, weather permitting, a fantastic lightshow will see photographs of all the art works projected on to the walls of Porthleven's famous clock tower.

The auction will be held on 18th March 2017 in the Atlantic Inn, Porthleven with an online auction as well. All the pieces will be on display at the Lifeboat House from the 4th to the 10th March 2017.

Follow the latest news here @Porthleven_Art.