By Betty Mayhew
Physically making your own notebook is a hands-on, personal experience, something which Caroline Cleave perfectly encompassed in her workshop this morning. There’s something intimate and comfortable about the space which works perfectly for the task. Caroline herself says: ‘notebooks are special [and] a little piece of you’.
A key part of Caroline’s work is centred around Cornwall, particularly Port Isaac where she lives and her family grew up. Based in the town for over 400 years, her husband’s family have played a part in the fishing industry of the town, the lifeblood of the Cornish economy throughout the years. Between sticking tissue paper to the covers, she explains how the sea and the catches from the boats influence her work, from the freedom of the fish to the seemingly immortality of the lobster.
Recycling and sustainability also feature as a big part of her work. Even down to the plastic pots holding the glue, everything was being reused and appreciated. Her love of Cornwall and its nature comes across in everything she says, and she talks of how there’s ‘always a little bit of Cornwall’ in her work.
The whole experience is beautifully personal; she’s brought her own stamps that we can see in her work around the room. From the start, we are invited into her work, to become a part of the creative process. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the sound of pure craft, the sound of tearing and cutting and paintbrushes, a room full of people stopped in time, just focused on their art —and it’s all thanks to Cleaver’s magnificent way with words and art.
Cleave is part of the ‘Artistic Collective’, whose work has appeared throughout the year as part of the ‘City of Lights’ – giant white paper lanterns which fill the sky of Truro with light. Their work combined community with art, involving local schools and towns into a festival of sculptures and light.
All this and more at the North Cornwall Book Festival 2016, 21st-23rd October at St Endellion
Photo credit: Alyanna Graham