Ponckle: The Cat Painter of St Ives


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Jake Clark & Gavin Clark

An annotated collection of paintings, collages and photographs by Ponckle, the celebrated painter who settled in St Ives for 30 years and established herself as one of the most colourful characters in the town.

Ponckle, who died on April 13th 2012, left 15,000 words of writings that would one day have been completed as her autobiography. They are only fragments, but with a sharp eye for period and aesthetic detail. The notes capture the essence of a bohemian life of the 1950s-1970s, with all the hot spots of that iconic lifestyle: Soho, Paris, Cannes, Ibiza, Mallorca, St Ives. Ponckle reflects on her suburban upbringing in Chingford, London, and how she jumped at the chance to leave it all behind by marrying a jazz musician in her early 20s. After that she never looked back, and her life became a dizzying rollercoaster of excitement, creativity and disappointment, played out across the most picturesque coastal locations in Europe and England.

She eventually found her spiritual home in the Cornish seaside town of St Ives. Ponckle was a popular local figure, her gallery on Island Square becoming the social hub of the town’s bohemians. She also produced an enormous volume of work in her quirky, colourful style, which reflected the ambience and light of the town.

Every period in Ponckle’s colourful life has been documented by her paintings. There are enough remaining artworks in her home and around St Ives to illustrate every period in the memoirs. There is also a huge archive of photographs, many by professional photographers, including her second husband, which capture the spirit of the time and the most flamboyant characters that inhabited it.

Ponckle: The Cat Painter of St Ives is  co-edited by her two sons, Gavin and Jake Clark; the former a professional writer and the latter a professional artist.