This book follows on the amazing success of "Lost Cornwall" - the first book of photographs to come from the "Reg Watkiss Archive". The wonderful photographs appearing in this book are further selected from a veritable treasure trove of images contained in the "Reg Watkiss Archive", plus many others that have come to light since the publication of Lost Cornwall. The title of the book was chosen, in part, to reflect the sense of 'looking back' to the days in Cornwall which many long for, recalling scenes, in some cases, of well over a century ago. But the title also refers to the inevitable sense of nostalgia felt when looking at so much that the passing years have taken away, particularly the essential Cornish character of so many of our towns and villages. These photographs remind us that not all that is in the past was good, nor that all change is for the best. Poverty, danger to life and limb from mining and at sea, and hard toil for the majority are variously illustrated in these pages.But who could, on looking through this book, not also feel a yearning for the uncomplicated daily life the images reveal, and a sense of gratitude in what might have passed beyond our knowing, except for the camera.
Reg Watkiss was born in London in 1933. He first studied painting and photography at Walthamstow School of Art for a National Diploma in Design. Following this he was accepted as a scholarship student into the painting school of The Royal Academy of Arts, London. In 1958, after completing four years there, he moved to the West Penwith area of Cornwall where he married his wife Gill, also a painter, and they have lived and worked there ever since. Around the early 1960s his interest in photography increased and this was developed, along with the need to provide for a growing family, by painting, part time teaching and carrying out commercial photographic commissions for other artists. In the 1970s film-making was added to his interests and only recently the Tate Gallery took into their archives one of the short films he made at that time. Collecting archive photographs and old movie film remains very much an ongoing enthusiasm.