The Poly

24 Church St, Falmouth : 01326 319461
The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society

What's On Calendar

Have a look at the calendar text here to see what's coming up.

Exhibitions // Coming up // Bonfire of the Vanities
4 December

Bonfire of the Vanities

An exhibition of paintings and drawings by Catharine English

'Bonfire of Vanities, The Children are going to burn everything' runs from the 4th to the 8th of December 2018 in the Main Gallery.  Over 200 pieces of work will be on show.  The artist bravely invites you to take a look and to buy a piece to attribute value to what she has been creating.  

Proceeds raised will go to Cornwall Hospice Care and Prisoners Abroad.

An artist her whole life, at 70 Catharine has never shown her work outside of her home nor sold her work previously.  What we see here is a very special collection of artwork that has been determinedly created out of the very need.   

‘You don’t have a choice do you?’ she says.  Painting is something that Catharine is compelled to do.  How very privileged we are to take a look into this private world of botanics, of stories, of expression.   Unrestricted, free, instinctual and not compressed or directed by patronisation: her work is a breath of fresh air.  Rarely would we find her courage and dedication with work produced not for external satisfaction; this is artwork for the soul.  Honest, playful and reflective, they carry her lively, punchy and observant character.  Her passion for visualisation within her daily life as Catharine the artist, wife and matriarch is ever-present.

Living both in England and America, her work converses and diverges with and from the photographic image.  Her first job was working at Kodac making maps from aerial photographs.  Considering shifting viewpoints and perspective, opening up our dialogue of her work.   The literal image and the fantastical intertwine and push and pull against each other as her work steps outside the traditional and reflects often back to the naïve.   

Her block colours and mark-making through flowing symbols and decisive lines, recall the emotively driven context of Kandinsky and then American Abstract Expressionism.  A whole world of significant language with which to read them opens up.   ‘Improvisations’ and spontaneous paintings are a thing.   Here too.  

How does one organise a lifetime of work, when one does not produce work within a linear style? She dips in and out of her different mediums and subjects as the flow goes.  Balance within the spontaneous.  

This exhibition is as much framed by her character than anything else: a true philosopher, poet and satirical picket punk.  Does an artist have to sell their work for that work to convey value and meaning and how much for?  And what happens to all of the work if we haven’t sold it and our family don’t want it and there is no room for it.  Where does it go?  This exhibition is as much about bravely solving these questions as to anything else.   The courage, fortitude and will to create, to draw, to serve the composition is entirely prevalent in this collection of work to be re-homed.   When an artist’s studio is full what do you do?  In Catharine’s case… 

“…the children are going to burn everything.  This is the other option.”



Eighth Grade

Making his feature-film debut, writer/director Bo Burnham delivers a keenly observed and achingly funny portrait of the...

Find out more

Collection and Alchemy

Collections & Alchemy Collections & Alchemy is an exhibition of collections and paintings by Local Krowji-based Artist...

Find out more

Thomas Bowes // Bach Pilgrimage 2019

Thomas Bowes is one of the UK’s most versatile and accomplished violinists – as a soloist, chamber musician,...

Find out more
Contact us:

T: 01326 319461


The Poly, 24 Church Street, Falmouth, TR11 3EG

Social Media:

Keep up to date with The Poly:

Icon Icon Icon

© The Poly - The Poly is the trading name of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society Limited, a company limited by guarantee and incorporated in England and Wales with company registration number 03909555 and registered charity number 1081199, with its registered office at 24 Church Street, Falmouth TR11 3EG