Crepuscular: sounds a bit like muscular or perhaps is related to something like mollusc; it’s the “usc” bit that’s odd, conveying an idea perhaps similar to coruscate. It means however “resembling or relating to twilight” and I am discussing it here as it is a word that has been used to describe the quality of the light achieved in many of the pictures by Bath-based artist Nick Cudworth, who has a small studio and gallery in what is to be accurate, London Street, at the top of Walcot Street, in what is known here as the “Artisan Quarter” of Bath. We have been looking at Nick’s work on a regular basis as we walk past his gallery several times a week on our way in or out of town and have been in and had a look around and he changes the pictures in the window regularly. We also attended the launch late last year of his latest book at Toppings book shop, a venerable Bath institution at the top of Broad Street, and bought a signed copy.
The picture above is of Queen Street, famous in Bath for being the home of The Raven, (our favourite pub) Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars (my favourite shop) and for being one of the most frequently used for filming historic dramas, most recently in the Christmas episode of Sherlock with “the Cumberbatch”, The Abominable Bride (in the sequence in which the “bride” is shooting from the balcony which is not actually in the street but somewhere else. The two shots are cut together). This is a very fine example of Nick’s technique showing the way he captures the complexity of the evening light. He explained to us how he is at pains to ensure that the blue transitions to yellow without turning green on the wall on the right. Not something that I would ever have appreciated without some help from the artist.
While many of Nick’s paintings are oils he does sometimes use pastels. The lovely, dreamy scene below is of one of the old, early 19th century iron bridges across the Kennet and Avon canal as it passes through Sydney Gardens. Beside it I have placed a photograph taken from a similar vantage point.
All of Nick’s works start out as oils or pastels and sell as original pieces, however a chap has to make a living, so since 2009 he has been making prints using the giclée process. This allows him to create high quality, limited run prints from the original in various sizes. It also makes purchasing examples of his work a rather more realistic proposition. Below are some more twilight scenes of Bath. In all of these pictures the highly reflective Bath stone from which the buildings are constructed is of great importance in creating the crepuscular quality of the light.
As a comparison to Cudworth’s vision are a set of 52 views of Bath by artist Philip Bouchard, currently on display at the Victoria Gallery. All the originals were for sale but as well as a book of prints the pictures were available as a deck of cards carrying the illustrations. This artist’s style is quite different from Cudworth’s and has been deployed in the past mostly in creating fantasy pictures. Here that quality has been brought to scenes from Bath. I have chosen examples of crepuscular light to invite comparison.