TRANSITION: Jonathan S Hooper

26 May - 3 June 2017
Private view: Friday 26 May, 6-8pm

Jonathan S Hooper's exhibition at Hay Studio: TRANSITION

Jonathan S Hooper's exhibition at Hay Studio: TRANSITION

An exhibition of new paintings by Jonathan S Hooper opened on a warm evening to a receptive crowd at Hay Studio. The exhibition (co-curated by Susan Hay and Jonathan S Hooper) was built around the theme of 'Transition' as Hay Studio prepares for a move away from Cornwall and Hooper sets about challenging the boundaries of his chosen subject: Pentire Head; a prominent, wind-blown rocky outcrop on Cornwall's north Atlantic coast.

Susan and Jonathan share a sensitivity to environment and the physical experience of being in a place, and the walls at Hay Studio were enveloped by Hooper's large, abstracted landscapes, Polaroid photographs, a short film, found ephemera and a neon.

Words on the exhibition by Jonathan S Hooper:

This collection of work comes from a life-long relationship with the Pentire peninsula a small section of the North Cornwall coast. Few environments encapsulate the forces and symbols of transition with greater vigour than Cornwall's Atlantic coast. It is easy to see the landmarks and features of places like this as being imbued with an unchallengeable sense of permanence and immutability, these qualities are, however, just illusions. There is no stasis, all here is change; all is in a state of transition.

As with uncertainty, transition is a universal constant. Despite this, and to the extent that we register these phenomena, we can approach them with reluctance, viewing both as fraught and discomfiting. Our preferred strategy  being to mitigate against transition and uncertainty or, if that fails, to negotiate them into the relative sanctuary of the unconscious.

Given their ubiquity our innate response to these twin pillars is, arguably, counter-intuitive; counter-productive, even. These paintings, through their abstraction of the familiar, attempt to make the case for a different approach. They use landscape as a cipher for the acceptance of uncertainty; to make the positive case for transition.

Transition is, arguably, the only reliable constant and the evidence of it, of metamorphosis, is all around. In the immediate, transition is revealed in ever-shifting light patterns; the developing and disappearing cloud formations; the advancing weather systems; the “noise” of the ocean surface. On an epochal timescale transition exists in the upheavals of geological process and the resulting  landforms; over shorter periods the agency of erosion modifies and sculpts these forms and this process is ceaseless. Seasonal progressions are registered in the flora and fauna and changing land use.

Time is the force that drives transition, and its consequences. Time is relentless and remorseless. Its irresistible and irreversible progression is woven into the fabric of this, and every, landscape. Time is registered in the layers of rock exposed at the cliff edge. Time is beaten out in the rhythm and echoes of the sinusoidal waves and swells of the Atlantic. The Gulf Stream ,a mass-transit system linking unseeable lands with Cornwall's north shore, deposits exotica in strand-lines that advance and retreat, synchronised with lunar time.

Human history is etched into the land's surface by pathways and tracks that encircle and criss-cross the peninsula, the memories of their original purpose now largely lost to time. The over-looked remnants of human enterprise and endeavour gradually pulled back into the land by entropic decay. Abandoned mine workings unseen, by-gone; the adits and “coffin” drives with tool-marked walls stained by leaching minerals, yet to be rediscovered by the interested few. The echoes of the past bridging the divide between then and now.

Transition also exists in the boundaries between land and sea, sea and air, air and land; the space between headland and island. These elemental phase changes seem definite and abrupt; no graduation, just a sudden transition from one to the other. In reality, and albeit at a largely imperceptible level, these liminal interfaces are mix-zones, regions of activity and inter-play.

These paintings attach themselves to the motifs of transition. Pathways and vectors arc and scythe across the painting plane; wave forms sweep and swell; multiple horizons section and divide space. The layering of pigment alludes to both the laying down of rock and memory alike; the layers "blurred", mixed and abraded as an extension of this allusion. The transitory and temporal colours of Gorse and Thrift; the coruscations of reflected light; the buffeting, granular sea-breezes and gales and the vertiginous cliffs that shape and direct them. The landmarks obscured by a blizzard of minute detail; briefly glimpsed; half remembered; imagined, fugitive.

By not being confined to a momentary actuality, a fixed “view” of landscape, these paintings attempt to represent something beyond the purely visible. They seek to coalesce multiple views, where the variable is time, and to compress this onto the painting surface. They are structured on grids and tethered to landmarks but become complexity maps as other experiential elements overlay the more prosaic or recognisable forms. They are intended to be looked into rather than at; to find “moments” and relationships in the layers of paint that stimulate the individual imagination, the individual memory.

In this approach the role of the painter is not depiction; not merely to record a world from which he stands apart. Rather it is to convey the experience of being part of the world, the phenomenology of being in landscape “among the trees and rocks” [ref William Carlos Williams and “the poets of reality”]. This sense of being is compensation for the renunciation of the privileged status of the agent of consciousness as a separate identity, an ego. In its turn this allows painting to free itself from the gravitational pull of reference; paint is freed to be the material that it is; “paint is paint”.

Paintings, particularly those that lean toward depiction, can act as mirrors that reflect back our prejudices, our predispositions, our innate sensibilities. To fully embrace transition requires a leap of faith, perhaps a trust in something transcendent; we need to “get out of the way” of our initial thoughts; these prejudices and predispositions. We need to reject the purely rational and allow the sublime, the subliminal to seep in. We need to engage with the “spaces in between”; the transitional spaces.

Transition defines landscape and defines our place in landscape. Transition is the matrix in which all that we see and experience exists. Transition is progression; transition is progress.

Transition carries us forward into an uncertain future and, perhaps, this might bring with it a certain trepidation. Uncertainty is, however, the incubator  of the imagination; a vessel in which ideas can grow and flourish; a place where discovery is made.

The only certainty in these paintings is the starting point; a blank canvas and an idea. The rest is about process; a transitional experience loaded with contingency; the end point, a negotiation.

JSH May 2017

A detail from one of Jonathan S Hooper's paintings at Hay Studio

A detail from one of Jonathan S Hooper's paintings at Hay Studio

A neon from the exhibition: Penntir

A neon from the exhibition: Penntir

Jonathan S Hooper

Jonathan S Hooper

SEAMAS CAREY Meets His 4 Year Old Self 28.04.17

A capacity crowd was entertained at Hay Studio by Seamas Carey and his community choir during this strange and wonderful evening of heartwarming and ridiculous songs; featuring a dancing choir, time travel, nostalgia probing, rave music and tap dancing. The tour continued around Cornwall to Falmouth, Helston and Newlyn.

A warm thank you to Seamas and his band of wonderful singers & backing dancers! The evening was a heady mix of hilarity, mayhem, hair-raising harmonies and moving moments of sadness.


One day Seamas Carey found an old cassette tape in the back of his car, on which he discovered recordings of himself as a 4 year old boy, telling stories and singing his heart out. He knew then that he had to do something with these artefacts of posterity and drag them into the present day. The end result is 60 minutes of remixed and recomposed songs, arranged for a choir whilst Seamas plays piano, talks about growing up and occasionally dances.

Suitable for anyone who is a child, or has been a child.
"It’s hilarious and moving at the same time. i.e. good theatre.” - (Bill Mitchell, Wildworks)

Directed by Agnieszka Blonska
Choir led by Vicky Abbott
Supported by FEAST


SWAMPED at Hay Studio 03.04.17

Fiona Chivers’ group of ambitious and brave artists exploring universal themes of entropy, sustainability and materiality through the use of movement, sound and space, in ‘Swamped’.  Over 5 days the collaboration has considered the stuff we make, collect and throw away and the devastating impact of our addiction to material goods and its domestic and global impact.

Supported by Hall for Cornwall


October – December 2016

SITUATION: a programme of events celebrating on the joy of collaboration at HAY STUDIO.

The artists invited to participate in SITUATION shared the will to open themselves up to the influence of those they worked with, removing the barriers between traditional art disciplines.

We exhibited seascapes by Maria Floyd and celebrated the opening with a fresh lobster supper from Bella Nicholas and The Boscastle Fishing Co, washed down with wine from Chateau Civrac. We admired intricate botanical drawings and prints by Falmouth-based artist Lucy Morley, whilst feasting on canapes from Tom Forster of Got Game who prepares food using wild, seasonal and foraged ingredients. We were mesmerised by the movement of Physical Postcards - a collection of minute-long danced messages, performed in the landscape around Cornwall and filmed by Brett Harvey. Drawings, prints and embroidery byEmma Hambly formed the basis of a collaboration with Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin of Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects as they tripped and faltered through their performance of miles & miles, bound together by 100ft of rope. International jazz musician Andy Sheppard returned to Hay Studio with his band, Hotel Bristol, to bring our season SITUATION to a close. An as yet unrecorded track, Forever and a Day, reflected Emma Hambly’s work, by leaving behind what had been played until then, and putting down a marker for what was to come. Sheppard is described as a ‘serial collaborator’ for his work with musicians of every genre around the world. He is influenced by where he is playing and who he is playing with, composing, arranging and playing differently whenever he ‘has more space to explore’.

The environment in which we choose to live and work influences how we feel, what we do, the people we meet and the places where we gather. They affect those who join and visit us, who bring with them new information and new inspiration. 

Each event in the SITUATION programme formed a path through fine art, food, dance, performance art, and music, together demonstrating how HAY STUDIO supports creative engagement with time and place, where the artists and audiences are more like each other and become vulnerable to the context in which they find themselves.

SITUATION revealed the meaning of this space and it's inspiring web of land, history, culture and place.

SITUATION: Emma Hambly + Karen Christopher & Sophie Grodin

As part of Hay Studio’s season SITUATION, Emma Hambly’s Private View on Friday 2 December brought more than 30 visitors to see ‘liminal’, her exhibition about 'loss, memory and recollection, about products of endeavour, about control and chaos’ in Emma’s own words. 

A personal collection of photographs, embroidery, drawings, prints and paintings traced the last 12 months and the artists' physical and mental upheaval, and now, hope for the future.

Emma Hambly, Untitled 2016

Emma Hambly, Untitled 2016

Visitors also were treated to an exceptional performance by artists Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin of Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects, who brought their touring show miles & miles to Hay Studio. It was a privilege to witness the talent and creativity of international artists who had conceived a performance to explore how we feel at the edge of a landscape; how do we prepare for the uncertainty still to come?

Hay Studio - set up for Emma Hambly's Exhibition and Haranczak/Navarre Performance  

Hay Studio - set up for Emma Hambly's Exhibition and Haranczak/Navarre Performance


Reflections on the evening from Hay Studio regular, Liz Barclay:

'I saw how we need each other as human beings and how we always want to find the point of no return in our lives in order to learn to survive, because that is what we ultimately want.'

'I found Emma's exhibition impressive in the way she bared her soul for all to see. So very brave and I admire her for that. Then the performance. It was the most unusual theatre I've ever seen.

First thought in the first 15 minutes: the beautiful chemistry between the two performers which made the extreme choreography possible, but puzzled and frustrated. I gradually started to get a feel for some sort of message, but never was able to relax my brain, which was working overtime.

So, on the way back in the car I still felt unsatisfied for not really understanding what I had seen. This process went on all night. Every time I woke up I went back to some of their movements and the two voices so perfectly together. This morning I got it. The way it worked for me - and it will be different for every single person there, because of the abstract personality of the performance - was that I saw how we need each other as human beings and how we always want to find the point of no return in our lives in order to learn to survive, because that is what we ultimately want. So now I am happy to have seen it and not angry anymore that I had to work so hard in my spare time and an evening out and I think Haranczak/Navarre achieved what they set out to do'.

Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin prepare for the performance of miles & miles

Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin prepare for the performance of miles & miles

Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin during the performance of miles & miles

Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin during the performance of miles & miles

SITUATION: Physical Postcards

Hay Studio’s third event in it's SITUATION season was enjoyed by more than 50 people at the final performance of Physical Postcards on Friday 11 November - featuring a wonderful collection of minute-long danced messages, filmed in the landscape.

The culmination of creative collaborations with each other and the community, Lois Taylor, Sarah Fairhall and Gemma Kempthorne performed live and screened two new films made during the project, which took place at 3 locations, including Hay Studio, throughout the summer. 

The audience was invited to interact with the dancers by asking them to dance their personal postcard messages, receiving a unique, one-off and immediate response.

This charming performance chimed perfectly with the aims of SITUATION - artists developing  and exhibiting their work inspired by the landscape around them.

New Art Club

New Art Club came to Hay Studio to work on their new CampervanofLove piece for SALT 2016, in the glorious mid May sunshine. 

40 adults and children were treated to their work in progress with gorgeous tea and cakes afterwards, courtesy of Dance Republic 2.



Thank you to all those who have helped by contributing comments towards a better way to run our Film Club from all perspectives.  This is our proposal and we very much hope you will all re-join in September! 

Hay Studio Film Club will run from September to April (8 months) as a private event. Films will be screened on the 3rd Tuesday of the month.

Membership can be booked for 4 months £25, or for 8 months £45, which includes a donation to cover screenings, from Hay Studio. If you opt for 4, you can use them whenever you like through the 8 month period.  Hopefully, this will allow maximum flexibility for those who cannot make all the dates, and offers some security for Hay Studio. Hay Studio will select every other month's films. Alternate film choices will be opened to members.

A member selecting the film is responsible for

- agreeing their choice in advance of 4 month season so it can be announced to members

- acquiring the dvd

- inviting their guests, who need not be members, and informing Hay Studio of likely numbers (Hay Studio will also invite all members)

- asking guests to make a donation of £5

- offering the opportunity for guests to stay on after the screening to discuss the film


Hay Studio is responsible for

- providing the venue

- providing a projector and sound system

- providing Hay Studio choice films/dvd

- providing wine and crisps/sweets available for purchase

- announcing 4 month season screenings in advance to members


Continuation of the Film Club will rely on having a minimum number of 20 members to ensure costs of running the venue are covered. Please let us know by 1 September whether you want to sign up for 4 or 8 screenings by email to and we will confirm payment arrangements.


SCHEDULE SO FAR with links to film summary (this could change!)

22 Sep ’15    Two Days One Night    Hay Studio choice,_One_Night


20 Oct ’15    Howard’s End        Tessa Cubitt choice


17 Nov ’15    The Way He Looks    Hay Studio choice


15 Dec ’15    Taking The Michael    Alistair Hay choice


19 Jan ’16    We are the Best        Hay Studio choice!

16 Feb ’16    This Changes Everything    Simon Malloni choice


15 Mar ’16    Clouds of Sils Maria    Hay Studio choice


19 Apr ’16    TBC            Victor Mann choice








Andy Sheppard

International saxophonist Andy Sheppard played to a packed house of 60 people in February! Following an interview with Tim Smithies of Carn to Cove, Andy treated us to an hour-long solo recital including new pieces and long-time favourites.  Before the gig, we all loved Ruben Leon Acosta's canapes (see Upcoming Events for Ruben's next visit to Hay Studio).  Andy, playing with his quartet, has a new cd coming out this month - Surrounded by Sea, on ECM.