To celebrate summer, we headed down to the Cornish coast to visit artist Nina Brooke in her studio and caught-up on painting, what inspires her, surfing and her insider tips for Cornwall. Plus her favourite pieces from Cefinn’s current collection.
When did you first get into art, and how would you describe your personal artistic style?
I got into art at around 10 years old. I was always really into art at school, and it was the subject I was most nurtured in by my family too. Art is also in my blood as my mother and grandfather are both artists. My mum was very good at taking me to places like Venice for inspiration and to do lots of courses. Doing courses meant I was able to learn different painting methods and choose the ways which I personally liked the most, such as looser, dotty and blobby painting techniques - I definitely prefer a more inaccurate style.
What is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
I think the environment - it is all about what you put yourself around and in. Changing of the environment is super important and adds an element of magic, it means you see things differently. You get to see the changes in light and colour, it is all very much about what you see through your own eyes.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
That I can get up when I want! Being my own boss can have some negatives such as never switching off but a big positive is that it also means I can slip off for a surf when I want too, without letting anyone down!
What is your favourite piece you have ever painted and why?
Probably one of my first swimmers. I painted it around 6 years ago and did not sell it so it’s still hanging above my bed in my family home. I really love all the colours and the composition and abstract elements of the painting. It’s rare to get that right at beginning of career but this really has all the right angles, sort of by fluke. In some ways all the elements, such as the unusual colour palette, shouldn’t work but because of that it does! It is something I wouldn’t be able to reproduce.
For readers who may not know, you are also an avid surfer. How did you get into surfing?
I got into surfing when I was about 13 years old. My older brothers did it and I basically had FOMO and wanted to hang out with them and their friends! In any case, because of living where I do, it would have been rude to not get into it! I was pretty scared of the sea before I got in to surfing but now I am super-relaxed.
What are your top tips for people wanting to get into surfing this summer?
There are also lots of different types of surfing. I would say always rent a Swellie over a short board, they are way more fun in my opinion! Always read the waves and give yourself enough time - timing is so important! Surfing can be quite dangerous so you have to be aware of the board and others around you; learn about where to surf on the beach and where the safe spots are.
Most importantly, I would say just have a great time and lots of fun!
With many people taking staycations this summer, and Cornwall proving super popular, what are 3 recommendations for things to do or visit?
1. Have fish and chips at Rick Steins in Padstow. Get a takeaway and sit on the sea harbour wall and just enjoy yourself with family and friends - I actually was there for lunch today! I would say in Cornwall you are far better off getting a takeaway or picnic and taking it to the beach than eating in anywhere. Buy a bottle of wine and just sit and watch the sunset.
2. Visit Fowey on the South Coast.
3. Go to Hollywell Bay Beach, it is a lot quieter and super beautiful!
What is your favourite Cornish pub?
The St Kew Inn at St Kew - make sure to get a pint of the Simmons cider!
What is a Cornish walk that you really love?
I really like the classic Rock to Polzeath walk.
The best beach for surfing?
Polzeath, you just can’t go wrong! Newquay is also really great.
Is there a hidden or overlooked treasure in Cornwall you would say is a must to see or visit?
Rock Beach - it’s pretty quiet as people tend to forget to just sit on the beach there! It is super nice and normally pretty sheltered from the wind. It’s also where some of the Cefinn pictures were taken!
How would you describe your style?
Typically Cornish of course! I am often in a boiler suit or dungaree although I also like to feel smart. So, I guess you could say smart casual and pretty utility.
Which pieces are your favourite from Cefinn’s current collection?
The Paloma dress, Eva cardigan and Spencer jumpsuit!
What 3 pieces from Cefinn would you say are perfect for a UK staycation and why?
Most of the collection, especially all of the above. They are so multipurpose and easy to dress up and down which is key for a good staycation outfit.
Which three words would you use to describe Cefinn?
Ageless, forever and unique. Whenever I wear Cefinn pieces people always ask where they are from!