For many years we have visited a gallery in St Ives called the Penwith Gallery. Here we have admired, puzzled, lusted over and on the rare occasion bought a piece of art. At each visit the same lady guarded the front desk, holding sway over the exhibits and those who came to view them, diligently collecting the 50p entrance fee. She was an exotic creature with black hair piled high, extravagant jewellery and voluptuous gowns; undoubtedly the holder of secrets. Equally as predictable as her presence was her polite indifference. There was no hard sell, no attempt at small talk, certainly no recognition of our loyalty. That is until last year when, buying a few artists postcards, I asked her about the scattering of potted plants about the room. It was as if her dial had been turned from “ennui” to “enthusiasm”; her striking features softened and we chatted about the joy her plants gave to her and the love of her woodland garden. When I praised one particular plant she carefully prised a piece out of the pot, I feared for her manicured nails, and wrapped it carefully in tissue. Several days later I potted it up and feared the worse, but it rallied. Last month on our annual pilgrimage I stopped in my tracks to see the sign “open after refurbishment” and feared that the inevitable current of change had reached this previously force-fielded corner. The walls were freshly white-washed, there were no paintings piled against the walls, no plants and no lady. She had died in her sleep last September. Every time I look at this unnamed plant, I remember the glamorous and generous woman, Kathleen Watkins, who was curator of the Penwith Gallery for 46 years. And I thank her.