Art Scene in St Ives

Where to begin with the infinite possibilities of St Ives’ galleries? Of course, there are those that need no introduction – Tate St Ives and The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens are mandatory viewing for any visiting art enthusiast – but St Ives’ narrow streets are positively stacked with fabulous independent galleries. These are well worth a visit, giving you an access to work that’s being created all the time Cornish resident artists’ studios in converted lofts, garden sheds and architectural relics of Cornwall’s fishing industry. 

Penwith Gallery and Porthminster Gallery are both housed in old pilchard presses. Penwith is home to Penwith Society of Artists, established in 1949 by Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach, Peter Lanyon and Ben Nicholson, among others. Porthminster Gallery boasts a stunning collection of contemporary Cornish and British artwork available to buy, as well as regularly curating exhibitions.

Art Space Gallery is a co-operative with work covering original pieces in oils, watercolours, pastels, acrylics, wall-mounted ceramics and glass. A well-established gallery to explore is the New Craftsman on Fore Street. Associated with Leach Pottery and the late John Miller among many other Cornish artists, it has a varied programme of exhibitions.

The Salthouse Gallery in Norway Square is great for pop-up exhibitions, and Anima-Mundi in Street-an-Pol (opposite the Tourist Information Centre) always has some outstanding works on display, often from Cornwall’s more contemporary artists. The Belgrave catalogues and hangs a curated exhibition on most months of the year and represent a number of estates such as Terry Frost and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

A short drive away sits the quite miraculous 22-acre sub-tropical valley of Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and gallery. Surrounded by woods, streams and dramatic vistas, internationally renowned artists such as James Turrell and David Nash RA have interacted with the garden to create site-specific permanent works in harmony with the spectacular setting.

With all this art right on our doorstep, there is always a gallery opening, artists talk or open studio to attend in the evenings after your course. As residents of Porthmeor Studios we are right at the heart of St Ives buzzing artists’ quarter. Thought to be the oldest artists’ studios in the country, hosting several generations of artists – Porthmeor Studios are particularly well known for their role at the heart of the late nineteenth century St Ives art colony as well as being a home to the mid 20th Century St Ives Modernists.

Get a taste of what life was like in the artists’ colony, walking along the unchanged streets where you’re never more than a few steps from a working studio or workshop. Take advantage of our special relationship with Tate St Ives, Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens and more to make sure you sample the crème de la crème of St Ives’ exceptional art scene.

1945 – 1960’s

The “St Ives School”

Following the Second World War, the established group of painters, sculptors and potters in St Ives and their growing reputation attracted a succession of younger artists. This younger generation formed the new school of abstract artists for which St Ives would become famous and soon established the town as an important artistic centre for the avant-garde. Among the newcomers were: John Wells, Patrick Heron, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Terry Frost, Sven Berlin, Denis Mitchell, Roger Hilton, Karle Wesche, Paul Feiler, Bryan Wynter and Peter Lanyon – the only artist born locally.

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