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Looking back

Words by Rosie Cattrell

A fond reflection on the life and works of Jim Tinley.

As I flick through the fresh pages of The Art & Life of Jim Tinley – A Retrospective, recently published in collaboration with Porthleven Arts, it becomes clear how deeply rooted this local character and artist was in the close-knit community of Porthleven, and the story told by his wife, Susan Tinley, is one of personal connections and vivid reflections through his much-admired drawings and paintings.

After Jim’s passing in 2018, Susan was invited to exhibit some of his work during the first Porthleven Arts Festival, and the seed of an idea that their son Joe had previously sown began to grow. A retrospective exhibition in celebration of Jim’s life and art would take place in the Breageside Warehouse, with the blessing of Trevor Osbourne, Harbour & Dock Co. boss and long-time friend of Jim’s: “It is more than 40 years since I first met Jim. His highly individual character was reflected in his art. His portraiture combines the essence of Porthleven, namely the folk who constitute the Village Community. Jim was unique and so are his paintings and drawings. The nature and character of the artist is embedded and joined with the faces he recorded in his art.”

“I had two main objectives in holding this exhibition,’ explains Susan. ‘I wanted to remind people of – and introduce others to – Jim’s extraordinary talent, but most importantly in an effort to suspend the meteoric speed of change for just a moment, I hope to retain some of Porthleven’s history through Jim’s pictorial images and to give old Porthleven families and their friends a sense of pride and ownership in the making of their town.”

During the exhibition, Jim’s delicate pencil drawings and striking oil paintings were met with fond recollections for those who knew him and the subjects he captured, and a fascinated interest for anyone who didn’t. “After years spent capturing Porthleven’s characters, with all their idiosyncrasies, quirks and charm,’ explains Susan in the newly published book, ‘Jim Tinley would himself go on to become one of those very characters, well and truly woven into Porthleven lore and a legend in his own time.”


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