Creative Port- Linda Winter talks to theoldmortuary

theoldmortuary is a place where artists and creative people come to talk. Creative Port is a series of conversations with artists and makers who have a connection with Plymouth, Devon, UK. Plymouth, the Ocean City, is a creative city of arrivals, departures and settlers.

Linda Winter is a regular at all three. She will be exhibiting at Bens Farm Shop, Yealmpton soon.

Coming from a family of creatives, it would have been easy for Linda to become a painter. Creativity is in her blood, descended from an East End tailor, her mother was a woman compelled to make the intricate and fabulous, if not always useful, fabric creations. Her brothers are Art School trained and successful. Christopher Stevens is a painter of note and Head of Painting at Brighton School of Art. William teaches art in Bristol. However, and perhaps perversely, Linda avoided the art school route, her work is solely the product of her innate ability. Sibling rivalry may have made her pick up a paintbrush initially but it did not lead her along a traditional route.

Linda had an uneventful education and then ran away to Cornwall and had a family. Her rebellion was short lived. Three young children, little money and a house on the edge of Bodmin Moor meant that she was thrown back on old painterly habits to keep her sane.

Using Gouache on Arches paper, she painted large vibrant semi abstract boats that quickly became her signature style. Selling though the Barbican Gallery in Plymouth helped to establish herself as an artist. In Plymouth in the 1980’s and 1990’s, being a female artist was a struggle. So, in spite of having numerous one woman shows, Linda went to University to learn how to teach. Again the rebel surfaced, instead of studying art, she studied Psychology and is now teaching Psychology in London, but she still comes home to the sea most weekends and holidays.

One eventful afternoon with only a small canvas to hand, she noticed some beetroot on her kitchen table that had been purchased the day before, (She paints in her kitchen). The leaves were beginning to wilt in the sunlight. The purple of the bulbs vibrant against their fading glory. She picked up her brushes and an idea was born. Although a classic still life subject, fruit and veg were not an obvious choice for an artist as vivid as Linda. The Fruit&Vegetable Series however made a serendipitous connection when Linda had a chance meeting with the Management from Ben’s Farm shop in Yealmpton (where the Beetroot came from). A unique exhibition will be held in the newly extended eating space at Bens, featuring paintings of her naked organic vegetables. The exhibition is special, following a conversation over coffee about the difficulties some families have in affording quality food, it has been decided that the commission, 20%, of each painting sold will go to the Trussell Trust and Plymouth food bank. Organisations’ that Ben’s already support. In addition, Ben’s will also donate a proportion of the afternoons takings from Food and Drink sales. Unconventionally, the opening, at 3pm will be a family event with kids painting, burgers, the paintings and Linda telling her story. Regular adults not accompanied by children are also very welcome. The fruit and veg show opens at Ben’s farm shop on the first weekend of June.

I’ve given you an extra serving of tissues with your coffee.

9BB38BA8-C91E-4978-B03F-762EDA799358-6471-000006471DE03962In writing a style and arts blog, I consider I’ve dodged the awkward ball of having to write a critical review. If somewhere isn’t stylish, I can easily choose not to write about it and when reviewing creative subjects, there is nearly always something positive to pull out of the experience. I’m grateful this is not a foodie blog because I don’t know enough about the subject to be interesting. However, I am very aware that style/ decor/ ambience is something that is very important to most people, particularly when considering repeat visits. Style is also about how things are served.

Before I go any further, I will say the food at this establishment was lovely.

While on the rural eastern edge of Plymouth, we went to a Farm Shop that is well-considered locally but appears to have recently changed its name; it charges premium prices. We ordered lunch and coffee, to be accurate a flat white. Our drinks were slow to arrive and the flat white arrived not with the usual almond biscotti, but with an extra serving of tissues. The waitress explained that she had slopped so much of the coffee in the saucer that we would need extra tissues!

She hadn’t actually slopped a flat white, because that was not what was being served. She’d slopped, at best a latte, and at worst the sort of white coffee elderly relatives give you.

Premium prices should go hand in hand with quality, expertise, pride and a good knowledge of your subject. Without that, customers are unlikely to return. Nationally, the bar is set pretty high for these types of establishment. Daylesford comes to mind and somewhat unexpectedly the motorway services at Gloucester. Perhaps I’m being picky but I don’t see a side serving of extra tissues as a reason to come back.

Thankfully that was the worst experience of the day. Onto more positive things soon…