Category: Lifestyle

Meet artist Jo Downs

Jo Downs

Jo Downs’ handcrafted glasswork of echoes the beauty and hues of Cornwall’s landscapes and reflects her passion for the coastline.

Imagine a lifestyle entrenched in the beauty of Cornwall’s spectacular coast. Well, for designer Jo Downs, that’s what the daily grind is all about – as she captures the light, colour and detail of this county in her beautiful, handcrafted glasswork. We meet Jo at her Launceston studio to discuss her endless creativity and 25 years of dedication to her craft.

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TRUE PASSION

I never doubted I’d be an artist. From childhood, I sketched, drew, and had plans to be a potter. But glass, it seems, had other plans for me. I first tried fusing glass at university, and the glorious lump of colour I created got me totally hooked. I couldn’t get over the brilliance and beauty of it. A whole world of creativity opened up to me right then, and I’ve honestly never looked back.”

Jo Downs

BIG IDEAS

I started my career at the deep end, designing large scale installations for hotels and cruise liners. Creatively, it was thrilling, but technically it was very demanding and really taught me the art of perfecting fused glass. Big ideas are no good if you can’t make them a reality for your client. You need to perfect the skill and understand the science that brings the beauty out in fused glass. It’s such a unique material.”

MY INSPIRATION

I came to Cornwall in 2001 and it totally changed my life. The visual inspiration here is endless, and it’s something I’ve poured it into my work ever since. I walk and run on the coast, and my home looks out over the sea, so I’m surrounded by the details and textures of Cornwall every day. Anyone who loves my work loves Cornwall – their passion is the same as mine – and it’s a passion I really love sharing.”

MY GALLERIES

I opened the first Jo Downs Gallery in Padstow in 2005, and now have galleries in St Ives, Fowey, Tintagel, and Launceston (and also one in Surrey). They’ve become a real icon of the Cornish high street, with window displays that showcase all the dazzling colours of the coast, and I’m so proud of that. They’ve allowed me to showcase my large-scale work, and a range of smaller ‘take home’ pieces that celebrate the beauty of Cornwall.”

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Jo Downs Padstow Gallery

MY STUDIO

My studio is my sanctuary. It’s state of the art – not like thefirst little kiln I had in my bedroom when I was a student – and that luxury allows me to really push the boundaries of what’s possible in fused glass. My work is about capturing beauty in glass, and my studio is the perfect space to think, to draw, and to test out ideas in the kiln, with the radio on and my Jack Russell, Izzy, by my side.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

I’ve designed lots of collections, but of course I have my favourites. ‘Cornish Pilchards’ is the most recognised and perhaps the best-loved of my designs, and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year! And my wall-mounted Shoaling Fish and Leaf collections were a real game changer for me, and have led to so many wonderful spin offs and bespoke designs, including a stunning range of chandeliers.”

ONE TO ONE

Creating bespoke work is my favourite thing to do. It’s a special thing to design a one-off commission for a unique space. People express their individuality through their design choices, and a commissioned piece is the ultimate example of that. If I can spin my client’s aspirations into a spectacular glass installation or artwork, I will, and if somebody says it’s not possible, I’ll have tons of fun proving it is!”

Embark on an adventure chasing waterfalls in Cornwall, discovering the hidden natural gems and breathtaking cascades of the region.

jodowns.com

Images from an installation at Dragon House, Mawgan Porth.

Yoga on a Cornish beach

We invited Next Wave Yoga to be our latest guest blogger, to give you plenty of inspiration for a relaxing Beach Retreats stay…

Let’s set the scene…

It’s 8.30am on a Monday morning with Next Wave Yoga. Instead of being near the end of your morning commute to work, or rushing the kids off to school, you are on a beach in Cornwall. Perhaps it is not just you, but the whole family is there with you. The beach is still quiet, there are only a few people walking their dogs. Instead of being sat on a train or in traffic you are sat on a yoga mat with sand between your toes and the sound of the sea and birds. Your yoga teacher asks you to close your eyes and for a few minutes just allow yourself to really listen to everything going on around you, to be ‘present’ and enjoy where you are in that moment.

It’s hard not to enjoy where you are when you are sitting on a beach with the sun on your back and listening to the sound of the waves. For the next hour you are guided through a yoga class that has been created specifically for you, with careful guidance and assistance when necessary. This ensures you have plenty of time to come back to ‘that place’ of just being still and listening to the world before rolling up your mat and heading off for breakfast.

What a great way to start the day.

yoga on the beach

We are exceptionally blessed in Cornwall to be surrounded by beautiful coastline, hidden coves and tucked away woodlands that are open for us to use as our ‘yoga studio’. Instead of four walls, air conditioning, false lighting and the person next to your mat being less than an inch away from yours, we want you to be able to experience space, the ability to move freely and breathe deeply. If you have never stood and intentionally taken lung fulls of fresh sea air before, you are in for a treat.

yoga with amy

The outdoors is part of a Cornish lifestyle and our environment is our greatest asset. We want to share it with you.

Over the years we have received an abundance of research into the effects of our modern and indoor lifestyle on our physical and mental health. Studies have shown how positive just a simple walk in the park or stroll across the beach can be and the longer you spend outside the more positive those impacts are. Just a 20 minute walk can improve short term memory, boost creativity, reduce stress and anxiety, allow for clearer thoughts, lower blood pressure and even reduce inflammation in the body.

Yoga also helps with all of these things – combining the two is pretty magical and the beauty of the practise is, it can be done anywhere you have space to roll out a mat. A lot of the yoga classes that we do are actually within holiday homes like Beach Retreats’ making use of the wide terraces, private gardens and beautiful views from open plan sitting rooms. This makes it easier for the whole family to join in.

yoga in the trees

We understand that your time away is precious so we bring the yoga studio to you.

It may be that you want to have just one class to end your stay or daily classes to really reap the full benefits, create your own vinyasa flow, experience yin, yoga nidra or even just master your Downward Dog – the choice is yours. You could even turn a day of your stay into a mini yoga retreat to include a morning and afternoon class, massage treatments, sound baths and even a cookery class with a nutritionist.

We want you to feel free to create what you need to help you truly, relax, recharge and ultimately go home feeling like you have a new found love for ‘self care’ and can take on the world. Maybe after one more Savasana…

For more information visit nextwaveyoga.co.uk or bespokeretreats.com.

rockpooling

A little more about Next Wave Yoga

Next Wave Yoga was created to make the benefits of yoga and massage accessible to all. Founded by Amy Williams, an experienced level 3 massage therapist and passionate yogi, we are a truly holistic approach to relaxation and healing based in Cornwall offering group yoga classes, private yoga classes, massage treatments, unique bespoke retreats and much more.

Next Wave specialises in tailoring experiences to the individual. That means anything from creating a plan for dealing with stress and anxiety through yoga or helping your aches and pains with deep tissue massage or getting all f the family together for some yoga fun on the beach.

It’s no secret that we think massage is a little bit magic. Helping to alleviate aches and pains, improve circulation, aid the lymphatic system, helps the body recover for sporting activities and injuries quicker and creates more space and mobility in the body. For the ultimate treat let us turn your beautiful holiday home into your own private spa for some time to truly relax and unwind.