June 1, 2012
On a recent trip to Cornwall (courtesy of our lovely client Classic Cottages) I took a peek at the unique open-air Minack Theatre, gloriously perched on the cliffs at Porthcurno on the county’s far western edge.
It was fascinating to hear the incredible tale of girl power behind the Minack’s creation, The entire project was designed, built (with the help of two local craftsmen) and financed by Rowena Cade, who remained passionately involved with the Minack from its inception (in 1931) until her death in 1983.
The theatre has showcased hundreds of fantastic performances across the years. The first to be held there was Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the summer of 1932, when the stage was lit by car and battery lights.
Only during the outbreak of World War II did the Minack fall silent, with actors and props replaced by entanglements of barbed wire, and with Rowena regularly crawling under the wire to cut the grass.
The Minack Theatre is now considered to be one of the country’s greatest theatres, and local Cornish folk speak of it with great pride. If you’re lucky enough to go there, make sure you also visit the dreamy Porthcurno beach, next door. Like many of Cornwall’s beaches, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean.
On my travels, I love to hear about inspiring individuals, such as Rowena, that take it upon themselves to create a masterpiece. Take Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro – a visual treat of 250 steps covered in 2,000 colourful tiles collected from over 60 countries. Visitors can often see (and meet) its creator there – the Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón – working away on the steps, replacing tile with tile.
Another example that sticks in my mind is the Crazy Horse memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The world’s largest mountain carving, it honours the spirit of Crazy Horse – an Oglala Lakota warrior – and of Native Americans in general.
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and the Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear officially started the memorial in 1948, and it is still far from completion. Ziolkowski passed away in 1982 but his wife Ruth and seven of their ten children continue to work on the huge statue today.