Partou Zia (1958-2008) was born in Tehran. She came to England in 1970, before moving to Cornwall in 1993 with her husband, the painter Richard Cook. She studied at the University of Warwick and the Slade, and in 2001 completed a PhD at Falmouth College of Arts and the University of Plymouth.
In 2003 Tate St Ives initiated a pioneering residency programme at Porthmeor Studios in St Ives. Partou Zia was the first recipient of this award and her exhibition at Tate St Ives was accompanied by a catalogue ‘Entering the Visionary Zone’. In 2007 she was the first artist to be offered a studio in the newly renovated Trewarveneth Studios.
Partou’s canvases bring a fresh note to the long established tradition of story telling. She has been inspired by the writing and illustrations of William Blake, and her work explores a personal journey of self-discovery. Through these vibrant, painterly canvases, she draws the viewer into her dream like memory. Her own language is highly original, evolving a personal mythology of motifs and symbols that include lovers, sleepers, dreamers and readers, set within evocative interiors or luminous landscapes.
And it came of a sudden: Studio Journal, 5 Porthmeor Studios
The strange sense of being outside of my normal space(s). It haunts my sense of self or at least any accepted idea of the ‘norm’. Such a lot of height above me, and such a lot of empty space around me. Adjustment is slow. Outside the waves sound like a giant breathing: inhale, exhale…Not easy being here. I am not sure of so much!
And it came of a sudden. The gates opened. I saw the Red Couch worn with time and use. How many years it had stood lonely in this vast white hallway; this wood and stone built tent reaching up to the clouds. I saw the muted light and for the first time felt some degree of comfort; felt the small possibility of True change. Only more patience and it shall all be as things have promised, so. The yellow bucket acquiesced, also. The winding green Mooreland hails me at every dusk hour. Horses and ponies amble to the fences by end of fields to ask after my day’s quiet progress. Such glorious air this April, despite intermittent dark showers and cold spells. I remember the oyster shells found along the spongy bed of Gillan Creek, last August. Could it be that all past memory is an ephemeral dream-gesture that can rarely be substantiated.
Ocean sounds continue ebbing and flowing, neutral and almost careless in their consistent timbre of depth and breadth. No! It’s these white, wood-slatted walls rising up high into a grand canopy above me that stand patiently to attention, listening out for every small iteration of my troubled mind. These unrefined, crudely constructed beams look down from their advantaged height to see me struggling with my own burdens: and they smile in empathy with me broken and defeated at the hands of the blessed angels of painting, sent to test my faith.
Hot summer blue days pass me by and all I seem to do is hole-up inside this great white place and think; think what??…When time becomes the hammer of change against known spaces the Eyes open out towards the possible. Only when held within the impossible task of acting outside of time and space, does the mind truly submit to the grand project of ‘the possible’.
The soft presence of this white light makes me giddy. As though on an island, I live my dreams out in a soliloquy to an empty auditorium of white spaces and blue/mauve shadows. After the heat of mid-morning there enters a soft light ochre energy that unsettles the afternoon hum of the room.