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Photo-entrepreneur draws on artistic family heritage for Lamorna project

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 29, 2013

By Simon Parker, Living Cornwall Editor

  • Penwith Cliffs by Charles Naper and Sarah Lay's photograph taken at the same location near Land's End

  • Sarah Lay receives the Gorsedh's Cornwall Enterprise Trophy from Grand Bard Maureen Fuller at Penryn PICTURE: PHIL MONCKTON

  • A thorn tree below the Cheesewring and Stowes Pound on Bodmin Moor and a carpet of primroses in woodland at Coombe, near Truro PICTURES: SARAH LAY

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A photographer and businesswoman, who was this year honoured for her contribution to Cornish enterprise, has delved into her family links to the Newlyn School of Painters for her latest venture.

Sarah Lay, who runs Evocative Cornwall at St Just, has been producing calendars and cards using her own photographs for nearly 10 years.

From an old Cornish family, she was this year awarded the Cornwall Enterprise Trophy by Gorsedh Kernow in recognition of her work to promote Cornish culture. And in addition to calendars of Cornish scenes, Evocative Cornwall's range of Christmas cards have now raised more than £20,000 for Cornish Hospice Care and St Petroc's Society.

Last year Sarah struck a deal with Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance to produce the first Newlyn Artists Calendar, featuring work by the likes of Stanhope Forbes, Harold Harvey, Norman Garstin and Thomas Cooper Gotch. For 2014, she has chosen to focus on those members of the colony who lived and worked at the nearby cove of Lamorna.

It coincides with the release earlier this year of the feature film, Summer In February, which is set in Lamorna and focuses on the relationships between the artists who lived there at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a project with special resonance for Sarah.

"Ella and Charles Naper, who were painters and also produced pottery and jewellery, were an integral part of the Lamorna artists colony," she said. "They were also my great aunt and uncle. I grew up in Lamorna in the house they built, worked and lived in, and I am so proud to see their friends and their work in the public eye once more."

One of the paintings reproduced in the 2014 Newlyn Artists Calendar is a cliff study entitled Nanjizel Towards Porthcurno by Charles Naper.

"A couple of weeks ago I went and found the cliffs Uncle Charlie spent so much time painting," said Sarah. "I didn't manage to locate the exact spot he painted from, but it was still weird to stand on almost the same place he must have regularly gone to work and very pleasing to see those cliffs looking just the same. The view in his painting Penwith Cliffs is, I believe, of Trevilley Cliffs, just round from Land's End in the direction of Nanjizal."

A self-taught photographer, Sarah's images have reached a much larger audience this year, with one picture of a "super-moon" over St Michael's Mount going viral on the internet. Receiving more than 50,000 views in just a few days, it was also published in several newspapers, including the Western Morning News and The Guardian.

Last month Sarah was awarded Gorsedh Kernow's Cornish Enterprise Trophy for "outstanding achievement". It was presented to her by Grand Bard Maureen Fuller, who said: "Sarah has provided an invaluable contribution to Cornish culture as the inspirational publisher of Evocative Cornwall and as a supporter of the hospice movement in Cornwall and St Petroc's Society."

Not bad for someone who often isn't sure what day it is. With calendars, diaries and Christmas cards as her core business, Sarah said: "It is funny working in the calendar business. I am always planning so far ahead that sometimes I lose track of the year, the day, the time."

Evocative Cornwall can be contacted on 01736-788355 or by visiting evocativecornwall.co.uk

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