Leading contemporary artist Kurt Jackson talks about the untamed coastline near where he lives in West Cornwall, and how it inspires his work. Interview: Alex Reece
I live near St Just, which is Britain's most westerly town. The nearest accessible bit of coast is Priest Cove and it's where the locals would go when they want to dip their toes in the sea. It's also where the local inshore fishing community land their boats and work from. I've got a shed there that the fishermen have lent me, which I use as one of my studios.
It was an area that was very heavily worked by tin mining, but nature has sort of reclaimed it, so now it's extremely beautiful and wild. In the spring it's a mass of colour with a plethora of wildflowers and butterflies and insects. And, of course, the birdlife – the choughs live here. So there's loads going on, in terms of the natural world, which appeals to me immensely for my work.
I try and move around and chop and change as much as possible in what I do. So I might be working on a 12-foot canvas spread out on the clifftop, or I might be working on a postcard-sized board on my lap. Or I might be making sculpture out of driftwood. Or indeed I might be out on one of the fishermen's boats, painting them at work.
I've just put up an exhibition at The Jackson Foundation in St Just called Crab and Lobster, and a lot of that work has happened at Cape Cornwall. I've also launched a new book, called A Botanical Landscape, and it focuses on the plants that appear in my paintings, sculpture and prints, and also my poetry and prose. Tim Smit from the Eden Project wrote the foreword. At the Port Eliot Festival, there will be a conversation between the two of us on stage.
Why does the coast inspire me? It's a place that nature is still allowed to do its own thing. It's also full of surprises – it's very unpredictable in terms of the sea, the weather and what lives there. I like to have a feel of the wild and the ungoverned.
Kurt Jackson will be appearing on the Bowling Green Stage at the Port Eliot Festival, 25-28 July, in St Germans, Cornwall (porteliotfestival.com). Crab and Lobster will be at the Jackson Foundation Gallery until 17 August (jacksonfoundationgallery.com). A Botanical Landscape is published by Lund Humphries (£35).