A St Austell artist will auction off her artwork next month in aid of Cornwall Community Foundation. 

Kate Cambridge, who lives and works on the Tregrehan estate, is one of nine artists-in-residence invited to take inspiration from Cornish gardens as part of the Great Art Auction in June. 

Devised by the Great Gardens of Cornwall, the auction will celebrate spring while raising money for the charity, which helps grassroots and community-led organisations across Cornwall to change people’s lives and cultivate strong, resilient communities.

Completed work will be exhibited at Lemon Street Market in Truro from June 13 to 20, 9am to 5pm (closed Sunday). The auction is open to the public and will take place on the evening of Tuesday, June 20: doors open at 6.30pm for drinks, with bidding from 7.30pm.

The A390 near Par is the last place you would expect to find a temperate rainforest, but that’s exactly what Tregrehan is. 

Kate Cambridge grew up in the polar opposite environment - London. 

“It was a concrete jungle with no nature – quite stifling,” she said.

She was inspired artistically from a young age by a partwork about artists and the stories behind their paintings, careers and lives. 

“My favourite issues were Giovanni da Milano and Peter Paul Rubens – they filled me with the desire to create my own art in my own way,” she said. 

Kate would specialise in painting trees after discovering the ancient Scandinavian tradition of guardian trees during a trip to Norway. 

“These trees are considered part of the homestead, the family even,” she explained. “They are a symbol of health and wealth, and people honour them and give thanks and gifts to them. I fell in love with that idea – I think if everyone did that, the world would be a much nicer place.”

Having endured a succession of 9-to-5 office jobs, Kate was given the opportunity to move to Cornwall seven years ago. She found herself at Tregrehan, with 153 registered champion trees – more than any other garden in the South West, and many the tallest of their kind in Great Britain. 

“For a tree painter, it was a dream come true,” she beams. “I like to think that champion trees aren’t a million miles from guardian trees – they are historic, majestic and beautiful.” 

She paints in acrylics, and works outdoors in all weathers – the wetter, the better. “I like to capture the weather and the atmosphere in each painting, and I love the way the rain blends the colours,” she explains. 

“I paint in stages, so if it rains for a month, I will start lots of paintings at stage one. Then when the rain stops, I can move onto the next stage.” Even the final varnish is designed to give a “wet look” effect to the finished product. 

The historic home of the Carlyon family since 1565, it’s now run by New Zealander and Carlyon descendant Tom Hudson. 

“Tregrehan Garden is proud to be part of this fundraising exercise for such a worthy cause,” he said. 

“I hope this Great Gardens initiative will encourage Kate in furthering her painting career as well as helping to raise money for the Cornish Community Foundation.”

Each participating garden is a space where visitors can connect with nature, nurture their mental health and support their wellbeing. 

The other gardens and artists taking part are: Andrew Tozer at Trewithen, near Probus; Rob Rimmington at Lamorran House Garden on the Roseland peninsula; Lorna Tremayne at Heligan, near Mevagissey; Carol O’Toole at Caerhays; Mary Jago at Trebah Garden, near Falmouth; Nicky Walker at Antony Woodland Garden near Torpoint; Susan Nathan at Bonython Gardens on the Lizard; and Lizzie Black at Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly.