Alexander Creswell

Latest Commission: Peaslake Village, Post War

I have just completed a commission by an American collector to show Peaslake village how it was between the War and now. The painting is to commemorate his wife, who he met in Peaslake soon after the war. The painting is going to be unveiled shortly (watch this space…).

Cruising across France in the Bentley for the RDW Auto Tour

Article in Boat International, written by Amanda McCracken

Sublime scenery and comfort; cruising across France in the Bentley headed for the Monaco Yacht Show, what could be better than that?


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‘Alexander Creswell chased the fleet of glorious classic yachts at the Pendennis Cup in Falmouth to capture the action at close quarters in chalk and charcoal. He offers his own particular perspective on the racing:’

PENDENNIS CUP 2010 by Alexander Creswell

It’s what we’ve grown to love about Cornwall in August: two days of sea mist, drizzle and sou’westerlies, then reluctant spring sun giving way to resplendent summer for the last days. I was here at the Pendennis Cup for five days of non-stop drawing of beautiful yachts in Falmouth Bay.

The azure Mediterranean and Caribbean are wonderful, of course, but in Cornwall we were to have the broadest variety of conditions and the water was a symphony of greens, greys and blues. I was chasing in a RIB and, whatever the weather, drawing to record the action, the spirit and the sensation of classic yacht racing  – power and grace right up close, hearing the grunting of the easing sheets, the shouts of the crew, the roar of displaced water as they powered though the seas.

Racing started on the first day with a flurry of protest flags as the Big Class jostled across the start line, spars almost touching.  The murky grey gloom was alleviated by Adela’s crew shirts making dots of bright red in the gloom. At the top mark her ‘Big Red’ kite was hoisted for the downwind run and she was soon lost in the mist as Mariette and Mariquita rounded behind.

Skippers and tacticians were on their mettle laying for Gull Rock as the turning mark, a jagged reminder of the hostility of this coast. What a way to begin a regatta!  Adela rounded first in the mist, then the ghostly silhouette of Mariquita appeared, slicing the water in streaks of white and indigo. She broke the eerie silence with cries of heave! and ho! as the sheets were hardened in without the benefit of winches to put her on the windward tack, followed by Mariette and Velacarina.

Danger was not far away and the Sparkman & Stephens ketch Tomahawk had broken her mast at the first mark and was taken for repair into Pendennis Shipyard. She would reappear before the end of the week but for now her classmate Pinuccia, a local classic owned by the Tresanton Hotel,  was on her own.

I had succeeded in making a series of wet, splashy sketches in smudgy charcoal for sky, water and sail alike with white chalk in streaks for the cresting seas and foaming bow-waves. My drawing machine provided me with a ten-metre roll of dry paper, tinted to allow the use of white chalk. So far I had needed only grey.

That evening the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club hosted a barbecue.  Drizzle wrapped itself around the crews, owners and guests, a  cool Cornish welcome from the sky but inside the scene was more colourful, a feast that set the tone for a week of fun and fierce, exciting racing.  (more…)

Art isn’t necessarily about truth

Canaletto and his Rivals – The National Gallery

The Grand Canal by Canaletto

The opening of the Canaletto show at the National Gallery, London, coincided with my own at the Portland Gallery, London. Rachel Campbell-Johnson at The Times trashed the former in a pre-review saying ‘Don’t see the show, buy the postcards’. Harsh, I thought. The implication was that Canaletto’s paintings were little more than souvenirs churned out for the itinerant milords on their Grand Tour, images of Venice to adorn the walls of their stately homes. True in part possibly – market forces have always existed in art, but that condemnation rather misses the point. Canaletto and his followers are entirely responsible for the global immortality of Venice and it’s huge popularity today.

Canaletto worked during the last decades of the Republic, the heyday of La Serenissima portraying a glorious, ceremonial and at times languid paradise of cities. We do not see the squalor, discomfort and poverty of the time – the truth of actuality. But art is not necessarily about truth. Instead we see a triumphant vision which has lured all those who tramp in pilgrimage to this outlandish city believing it to have been the truth. It was of course no more true than (more…)