High 5: Art in St Ives, West Cornwall

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Art in St Ives

Since the end of the 19th century, St Ives’ beautiful coastline, lively seas and rugged cliffs have seduced artists from around the world. Follow in the footsteps of English Romanticist landscape artist J. M. W. Turner, Swedish painter and printmaker Anders Zorn and British-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who all travelled to St Ives – keen to make the most of the spectacular scenery, the mild climate and the perfect light – and perhaps you’ll be inspired to produce a Cornish masterpiece of your own.

Need some encouragement? Why not check out these creative courses and exciting exhibitions on offer in St Ives?

Art in St Ives, Bernard Leach

The Leach Pottery Studio & Museum
Founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach (considered to be the ‘Father of British studio pottery’) and Hamada Shoji (a Japanese potter), The Leach Pottery is one of the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world. Since it opened, scores of potters, students and apprentices from across the world have travelled to The Leach Pottery, eager to learn and improve their skills, maintaining the pottery’s creative principle. Today, the recently-restored studio continues to develop Bernard Leach’s historic legacy. (Sign up to a three or five day workshop from £300 pp, including all clay, one-to-one tuition, and basic tools).

Art in St Ives, St Ives School of Painting

St Ives School of Painting
When trained artists Borlase Smart and Leonard Fuller were conscripted to fight in World War One, they vowed that, if they survived the horrors of the Western Front, they would one day live and paint in St Ives. Twenty years later, in April 1938, they opened the St Ives School of Painting ‘to assist the many resident and visiting students in attaining the requisite proficiency to enable them to express themselves adequately in various mediums’. To this day, the St Ives School of Painting has upheld this promise, and runs a wide variety of courses, suitable for all aspiring artists. (Sign up to a course from £135 pp, including all necessary materials, and tea and coffee).

Art in St Ives, Tate St IvesTate St Ives
When the first Tate opened in London in 1897 it had just one site, displaying a small collection of British artworks. Today, the Tate has four major galleries, including Tate St Ives, which was first open to the public in 1993. Since then, hundreds of pictures, sculptures and installations have been displayed, but there is more to come. From the beginning of October 2015 through to the end of May 2016, Tate St Ives is planning a period of major construction in the existing gallery. It will transform the current space and create new areas for displaying bigger and more pieces of art, allowing an even larger number of visitors to engage with its collections. (Admission to Tate St Ives costs from £7 pp).

Art in St Ives, Barbara HepworthBarbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden
On 29 August 1946, Barbara Hepworth wrote to Philip James, Director of Art at the Arts Council, stating that Trewyn Studio (situated in the centre of St Ives) ‘is completely perfect for me’. A few days later she moved in and lived there permanently until her death in 1950. Nowadays, Trewyn Studio is home to the largest group of Hepworth’s work. The exhibition – created by her family in 1976, following the wishes expressed in her will – was then taken on by Tate St Ives in 1980. Linger in the workshop and stroll around the gardens showcasing her incredible work. (Admission to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden costs from £6 pp).

Exterior-of-the-award-winning-Porthminster-Gallery-655Porthminster Gallery
Located at Westcott’s Quay, in a converted Grade 1 listed former pilchard warehouse, Porthminster Gallery is a characterful ground-floor studio owned and directed by Dee Bray (who used to be a tutor in Performing Arts and Communication) and David Durham (a former lecturer in Fine Art and Illustration) since 2000. Voted ‘Best Art Gallery in Cornwall’ at the Cornwall Today Business Awards in 2014, enjoy the ever-changing exhibitions displaying art – from paintings to porcelain – by leading St Ives and British artists. Plus, admire the changing stock of modern 20th century works by post-war local artists, including Sandra Blow RA, Terry Frost and Patrick Heron. (Admission to Porthminster Gallery is free).

Need somewhere to stay? Here’s a selection of self-catering cottages in St Ives.

Rosie Barcroft


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