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Nil Desperandum - contemporary artists respond.

Category: ArtExhibitionsPress Release
Date:     15 December 2009
Time:     02:13 PM


On the 12th of December an exciting exhibition of contemporary art will open at Knill House, St
Ives. Nil Desperandum brings together a group of local and international artists to pay tribute to
John Knill, the late Mayor of St. Ives and the building’s former resident.

The artists included in the show were asked to provide work in response to the legacy of John Knill,
whose family motto Nil Desperandum inspired the title of the exhibition. Some of the pieces take a
direct influence from the history of Knill, who left a sum of money in his will for the residents of
the town to conduct a celebratory parade in his honour every five years. Other artists produced work
which explored more universal concepts of ritual, tradition and storytelling. 

The exhibition includes St. Ives local participatory artist Lois Wild, who has produced an
interactive, sound accompanied walk around St. Ives. Visitors to the exhibition can download the
sound file from the gallery during the show, and listen to stories and memories of the John Knill
celebration as they explore the town. 

Nil Desperandum also includes Cornwall based artists Ann Haycock and Ally Mellor who are joined by a
range of national and international artists including Slovenian artist collective BridA, (Sendi
Mango, Jurij Pavlica, Tom Kersevan) and Finnish artist Therese Sunngren. In the words of co-curator
Sally Noall, "It's really exciting to be able to provide a platform to show the work of Cornish
artists alongside those working elsewhere in the UK and Europe. It's a valuable opportunity to view
local artist's work in a wider context and a chance to see international work that's never been
exhibited in Cornwall before."

Other exhibiting artists are: Oliver Braid, Rita Heck, Anna Howarth, Doug Jones, Hayley Lock, Randy
Richmond and Charlotte Young. The resulting exhibition combines diverse practices, from sculpture to
moving image and paper cutting, to produce a show that confronts our attitudes towards tradition and
folklore and explores the blurring lines between historical fact and fiction.

John Knill was born in Cornwall in 1733, becoming a well respected, if somewhat eccentric, customs
officer and mayor of St Ives, In 1782 he commissioned the building of the Knill Mausoleum in St
Ives. In his will Knill bequeathed the town a sum of £25 for a celebration and procession to take
place every five years. The people of St Ives have faithfully fulfilled this legacy since 1801. The
Knill Family motto, Nil Desperandum, is carved on the Knill monument and translates from its
original Latin to 'Never Despair', a sentiment worth remembering in these times of financial

Nil Desperandum is co-curated by Sally Noall and Phil Rushworth. The use of Knill house has been
kindly donated by Scott Lovelock, who currently holds the lease to the building and will be opening
the shop as an antiques dealership in the forthcoming year. 

Nil Desperandum, at Knill House, 50 Fore Street, St. Ives runs from the 12th to the 24th of December
and is open Monday to Friday 11am - 4pm and Saturdays 11am - 6pm. 

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