Imagining the fishing: artists and fishermen in late nineteenth century Cornwall
University of Exeter
Cambridge University Press
The focus of postmodernist historians on language and representation has clashed with the more traditional approach of the social historian to material structures and processes. This article adopts the suggestion of Wahrman that a ‘space of possibilities’ exists where these apparently competing perspectives might be connected. The concept of a ‘space of possibilities’ is pursued through a case study of a marginal group, the fishing communities of west Cornwall in the late nineteenth century. The article explores points of contact and contrast between artistic and the fishing communities, between the painterly gaze and the subjects of that gaze. It is proposed that, while the artistic colonies and their representations might be explained as a result of discourses reproduced in the centre, their specific choice of location in Cornwall can also be related to the local economic and social history that granted them a space of possibilities.
12 (2), pp. 159-178