You are currently viewing Month 2. Devon and Cornwall. April 27th – May 3rd 2022

Empowerment, Facing Ghosts and Fears

Welcome to my blog recording my second trip away as part of my one year project of twelve art road trips.
This trip took me to Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

I stopped over to break the journey up in a nice campsite near Taunton, then the next day drove to my friend
Juliette’s place in Croyde, We recovered from a rather long, twisty, turney drive by first walking on the beach
and then setting about painting.

“Serenity” acrylic on canvas
“Serenity” acrylic on canvas

Saturday started with a meeting with Yvette Curtis, and her daughter Neve. Yvette is a friend of a friend and was suggested to me as someone I should meet. This was a great suggestion as Yvette is an inspiring women who has a drive to try to change attitudes and increase diversity in the surfing community and beyond.

Despite facing social media trolls and resistance from certain sections of the surfing community and establishment, she continues to strive for what she believes is right and important. She said in a recent podcast that she believes in creating “good trouble” (first quoted by civil rights activist John Lewis). I too believe good trouble is sometimes necessary to create change.

It was a pleasure to meet Yvette and her daughter and I wish her all the best in her endeavours to influence from within.

Later I walked to Woolacombe and back with my friend Peter, who had joined me with his dog Dudley. The five mile walk there and back was always going to be physically strenuous, but Woolacombe was the place we had our family holidays for many informative years, and with the news the day before that Dad had been taken back to hospital after suffering from sepsis and low blood pressure, the memories and emotions were running high. Walking on Barracane beach and having a drink sat outside the Watersmeet Hotel was like walking back in time to when I was 12 years old. I gathered some shells from Barracane beach and later painted a picture inspired by that cove.

Barracane Shell Beach. Acrylic on Canvas

With the news that Dad was stable but not out of the woods, I had to make the decision whether to continue my road trip or not. I took the risky decision (with the help of my Sister Kathryn) to continue my journey to Charlestown in Cornwall.

Rosie my 4-year old rescue dog (Pedro stayed at home for this trip as his 15-year old bones can’t take the travelling any more) was continuing to be my constant companion and was showing renewed confidence. Stiles were becoming less scary, running around the beach becoming more fun, and the brief trip to the amusement arcade was a positive experience. Rosie’s moods reflect my own and the less anxious I am, the less she is.

After a wet walk the next day, I packed up and set off for Cornwall. It would have been much easier to have packed up and gone home, but I made the decision to complete the road trip and visit Drew and Sophie Hal-lam who live in Charlestown, a stones throw from the Eden Project.

Whilst the journey was a little tough, I’m so glad I made it. After sailing past their house initially, I spun the van around and threw it across the traffic lights onto their driveway.

The dogs introduced themselves as only dogs can, and we caught up on the news since we met for the first time at the Parkinson’s event at Lambeth Palace last Summer.

Drew was diagnosed a similar time as I was, but unfortunately for him and his family his progression has been atypical and more severe than mine. We talked about the campaigning, fundraising and PD awareness work we’re both involved with.

We also talked about our experiences of being diagnosed and surviving with this condition. Talking with another like minded Person With Parkin-son’s (PWP) is a very therapeutic thing to do, as there’s normally an empathy and understanding that you only get with another PWP.

I’d like to think that anyone who meets, talks to and actually acknowledges the challenges Drew (and his family) face everyday would never moan again about trivial problems and solvable issues – I fear this is not be the case. We talked about dealing with the symptoms and the choice he has whether to fight or give up. For the sake of the love he has for his family, and the things he wants to achieve in life he chooses to continue to fight – a stoicism that many will fortunately never have to understand. These guys epitomise Acceptance, Adaptation and Ambition, and I am in awe of them.

I didn’t make it to the Eden Project. I took an early morning walk down to Charlestown harbour, took in the beautiful views and reflected on the previous evening with Drew and the family. I felt a need to be quiet, reflect and paint. I also felt a real need to get back to my own family.

Harbour, acrylic on canvas
Harbour, acrylic on canvas

These things I’ve learnt from this trip:

  1. I can be brave and challenge myself more.
  2. I’m capable of releasing my emotional state, and managing my feelings through my painting.
  3. It’s good to spend and share some of the road trip with other people.
  4. I should have more confidence in Rosie and what she can cope with.
  5. It’s important for me to remember to step back and reflect before making decisions. It helps me make better ones.

Next stop Scotland…

J Shipton
Arts Council England

Special thanks to the Sunderlands for the use of their property for a couple of nights – very kind

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jukiette Sunderland

    More than welcome Janet, glad you enjoyed the Devon leg & meeting Yvette

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