De Narrow Zawn is a tiny inlet in Cornwall’s “tin coast“, a World Heritage site littered with the ruins of old mines for tin, arsenic and copper. In fact, it’s at Botallack, which is probably the best known Cornish tin mining site. If you were to turn from this view in real life, and look down into the larger inlet behind you, you would see the Crowns engine houses clinging precariously to the cliffs – and that is a sight that has been the subject of many a photograph and many a painting.
There were mine workings in De Narrow Zawn, too, but I could not see any obvious evidence of them. Its rugged beauty seemed unspoilt and very appealing, in addition to being slightly less predictable than the (very impressive) engine houses. The appearance of a seagull riding the undoubtably complicated air patterns in the gully below made it even more special.
You may have noticed that the name of my painting isn’t quite the same as the given name of the place it depicts. De Narrow Zawn is the name marked on the Ordnance Survey map, but I found it an awkward meld of English, Cornish and an apparently foreign patois. A bit of poking around the Internet quickly revealed that the Cornish name would have been Dynarow Zawn. Dynarow means “pounds”, which is, apparently apt because the vein here was very rich. A zawn is a deep and narrow sea inlet with steep sides, which is certainly accurate.
oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm