Sampson (Sam) Bassett
Sam was born in St Ives into a fishing family and growing up in the ‘downlong’ area of the town – 44 Pier View, with a view of the harbour from his bedroom – his passion had always been with the sea and boats.
As a young man Sam was told by his parents he must learn a trade before he could go to sea. He chose to be a Motor Mechanic and served his National Service working on tanks in the army. Sam left the army at the age of 21 and then worked at Hayle for three-and half years as a motor mechanic and marine engineer before he began fishing as a living at the age of 25. The advice of his parents paid off as Sam’s mechanical and engineering skills were put to good use as he was able to maintain and repair the engines of his own boats.
One of four brothers he first went to work as a crew member on the Our John long-lining and pilchard fishing and then with his brother Eddy they bought the first of a succession of boats, the Sea Cormorant followed by the Topaz.
The Topaz was an unmistakable bright orange, a tradition that was to continue throughout their long-standing relationship with the sea and to result in the catching of the second only sturgeon to be caught in Cornish waters since the war.
Sam was also a voluntary member of the local Cliff Rescue Team and he received a medal as an award for his long service.
Sam began painting when he retired from fishing in 1997.
For 20 years his paintings had been for personal and family ‘eyes only’ until his eldest daughter Debbie, asked her dad if she could take off prints to give as prizes at her Captain’s Day at a local golf club. Through her actions Sam’s paintings were recognised by a local gallery who saw that they very clearly reflected a love, passion and knowledge of the sea, fishing and the people who for so many years had been his friends, co-workers and fellow seamen.
Sam has since been congratulated on his incredible work and has been told that it falls into the category of paintings which artist Margo Maeckelberghe exemplified when she commented: “The most important part for me is the mysterious ‘X’ an artist must feel about a place to paint it.”
Sam’s work certainly demonstrates this from his life, love and connection to St Ives and the sea.
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