From Falmouth to Falklands

Thursday 17 May 2018
Theo Crutchley-Mack

Drawing graduate Theo Crutchley-Mack has undertaken a six-month residency in the Falkland Islands to capture the decaying remnants of the whaling industry.

As a resident artist with the South Georgia Heritage Trust, an organisation promoting the vast heritage of South Georgia as well as undertaking wildlife conservation projects, Theo began to explore the ruins and make sketches for his studio work.

Theo explained: "The coast of South Georgia is scattered with the industrial remains of the whaling industries which closed in the 1960s, leaving shipwrecks, whale skeletons and small abandoned villages behind. I knew these unique locations were going to be central to the work that I made on the islands."

Much of Theo's work is focused on abandonment and decay, as a result it was a necessity for him to personally visit and peruse the often-hazardous ruins.

He recalled: "To access the whaling stations, I had to complete intensive asbestos training and wear lots of safety gear to protect me from the dangerous fibres in the air. I think that the sketches and paintings that I gathered whilst on location will be enough to feed my studio work for years to come."

Theo has a lot planned after his residency in the Falklands has come to an end, including a return to Cornwall for a summer exhibition at the Poly, showcasing Plein Air paintings of Falmouth that will be running from 24 to 28 July. He is also in the early stages of preparing a touring show in 2019, which will begin at MOMA Wales in Machynlleth.

Since graduating in 2015, Theo has already had his work showcased in two solo exhibitions, one on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly and another in the Late November Gallery in West Wales. On top of all this, he has been invited back to the University to give a presentation and share some graduate knowledge with current Drawing students.

Theo stated: "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share some of my experience with the students and show them some of the work I have created so far. I hope I will be able to offer them some insight into the reality of working as a full-time painter.

"My time at Falmouth was a period of experimentation and constructive failure. Whilst this may sound a little cynical, however without the three years of struggle, I wouldn't have understood how to construct the foundation of a drawing and continue progressing in my capabilities since graduating."