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Vicar turned artist captures Sri Lanka colour and culture

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 17, 2013

  • Jim Whitlock with his painting, Adam's Peak PICTURE: PHIL MONCKTON

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Those familiar with the fairy tale, The Princes of Serendip, will know that it was Horace Walpole who coined such words as serendipitous and serendipitously, which relate to the ancient name for Sri Lanka.

"Serendipity" happens to be the title Jim Whitlock has chosen for his exhibition in St Elwyn's Church at Hayle. No stranger to Sri Lanka, he travelled there this year for what he described as "a six-week mammoth painting experience" before returning to his Newlyn studio.

While there, he made any number of happy and unexpected discoveries, carrying a volume of work in progress, 40 or so completed versions of which make up this exhibition.

Born and bred in Bristol, it was in the 1960s that Jim Whitlock first visited St Ives, where he was lucky enough to obtain an Arts Council studio and where, in company with Breon O'Casey and Bryan Wynter, he helped set up the Penwith Society's print workshop and studio.

However, as promising as his burgeoning artistic career was at that time, he was to pursue an even more promising career in the church. For several years he was vicar of St Mary's, Penzance. And it was there, when experiencing health problems, that the combined persuasive powers and wisdom of the then Bishop of Truro, Bill Ind, and of his friend and fellow artist John Miller, convinced him that the time was right for him to again pick up a paintbrush.

Since then he has travelled and exhibited widely. This is his ninth solo show in St Elwyn's Church and during the past four years or so he has enjoyed major exhibitions in three cathedrals in this country, Truro, Norwich and Exeter, as well as painting visits to the USA and India, as well as Sri lanka.

All of which have led to paintings in which he has explored the tensions and light in landscape and sea movements.

From Adam's Peak and Red Bamboo to Sunset: Lake Tissa and The Last Sunset, the pictures that make up this exhibition speak of the delight he has found in his discoveries amid the mountains, forests, and tropical gardens of Sri Lanka.

Not to be missed, as colourful and cheerful as they are exotic and exciting, admission is free, and they can be seen in St Elwyn's Church, Hayle, from 10am to 6pm daily until September 29.

Jim Whitlock hopes to be present for most of the time during his exhibition, part of the proceeds from which he is donating to St Elwyn's.

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