The Last House (from Paintings of the West of Cornwall 1982-86)

Lizard Point is the most southerly tip of the British mainland. The nearby village, with the unusual name of ‘The Lizard’, is therefore the most southerly community in Britain. On the road out of the village towards the point, tucked into the elbow of a right-angled curve, is a largish detached house, which was once the most southerly house in Britain. In the mid 1980’s a small sign hung outside, amongst the dense thicket of shrubs that hid the front door from the road, it read ‘The Lizard Art Gallery'.

It drew me in. I stepped through the hedge portal, through the open front door and pushed at the stained glass inner door. A bell rang around the ground floor of the house and as my eyes adjusted to the gloom I became aware that dozens of paintings hung along both walls of the hall and then proceeded up the stairs. Then, from around a corner to the left, appeared an elderly woman, slightly bent, wearing glasses and a smile upon her face to welcome me.

This was the owner, the instigator, the manager, the curator, the invigilator, the sales team, the interpreter and the technician of The Lizard Art Gallery which, she informed me, was open 364 days of the year and showed and sold paintings by a diverse collection of artists who all lived close-by on the Lizard peninsular. They included a very old lady who painted sitting up in bed and a reclusive member of the Royal Academy.

The ground floor of the house was, like the hall, packed with paintings depicting a whole range of iconic Cornish subject matter in a highly eclectic range of styles and media. For a couple of years, whenever I visited the village, I dropped by to say hello, look at what was new and chat to this devoted denizen of Cornish painting.