Inside my head

Chris Lethbridge: Artist

I work in arts and creative industry development and management. I’m also a somewhat sporadic artist based in St Just-in-Penwith, West Cornwall, UK.

So how to choose ‘My Place’? Is it possible to select just one? Should I find it in the undulating greens and golds of Wiltshire where I grew up? In the moor and ocean of Devon and Cornwall where I holidayed, studied and now reside? Or among the smudged clock towers of Manchester where I lived for three decades?

Eventually I decide it’s none of these. Instead it’s to be found at the bottom of a carrier bag on a shopping list, scribbled in the margins of notes from dull meetings and at the back of sketchbooks. But chiefly it’s to be found inside my head.

I don’t know how many children invent imaginary kingdoms that then continue into adulthood, but I am one of that breed. Although I rarely reveal its existence, it’s an integral part of my identity, a place of solace where I can dream. ‘My Place’ is no Middle Earth or Narnia. It’s remarkably low on elves or talking trees. Castles imitating Schloss Neuschwanstein are absent and no-one wears an art nouveau crown.

Instead it is a synthesis of places I have loved, lived or that fascinate. As such, it may have its share of mountain and forest, but it’s also a place of urban sprawl, gyrating motorways, soaring skyscrapers, of noise and bustle. More Shanghai than Shire, more Minneapolis than Minas Tirith. The grunginess comes from the fascination of a rural child for industrial England, first encountered on long ago family car journeys.

I can visit ‘My Place’ at any time and there I can indulge my frustrated inner architect to sketch glittering downtowns or – when I fancy – time travel to build the odd cathedral.