Porthmeor Programme 

Develop your creative practice with9 sessions over one year 

We start in Spring with an intensive 3 days study followed by 8 tutored weekends (a mix of 3 and 2 days). Through workshops, 1 to 1s and group critiques your lead tutor joined by guest artists will help you discoverexperiment and develop. 

Are you open minded, motivated and ready to focus on your work yet still feel stuck and would relish feedback on what you are creating? Then joining our one year programme could be just what you need. Our Porthmeor Programme, now recruiting for its fifth year, is ideal for those looking to commit to longer-term development with a supportive group of peers. We create a nurturing and safe space so you can take risks and gain the confidence you need to move your work to the next level. An artist tutor will be with you all the way, so they get to know you and your work.

What will I do in the sessions?

Workshops run over weekends so students can travel from across the UK to join us. They always have a practical making element as we believe we learn best through making and doing although we also build in time to reflect, discuss and critique. These sessions explore five key themes.

Encouraging risk and experimentation

Exploring personal narratives and stories

Responding to place, personal spaces and connections

Discovering the essence -refining and removing

Translation and interpretation

The process will take you on a journey over the year with the primary purpose of expanding your personal practice.

Running through the programme is the development of your critical voice through personal projects, one to ones and group crits. Developing confidence in translation and interpretation is also a ‘creative muscle’ worked on constantly over the nine sessions.

Who is it for?

We cater for a range of students from early stage artists to those with more experience looking to challenge and stimulate their practice. We believe that developing a strong practice is where you start. The focus is not on the secrets of getting gallery representation or making a living as artist or even how to improve your painting technique. It is about helping you become the artist you want to be. This is the first most critical and exciting step and we believe this is what we can help you with. The time goes very quickly on the programme and you will get the most out of it only if you can invest in your practice in between the sessions to develop work, experiment and research.

How is it structured?

Following an intensive three day study weekend, a rich and varied programme of 8 weekends will be provided around every four to six weeks with a break in July and August. Over the summer there will be a personal and a group project set for you and a Zoom online meetup with your peers and tutor.

Who are the tutors?

There are two lead artists taking two group Kerry Harding and Peter Skerrett. They will be there for most of your nine weekends. They curate the programme bringing in guest tutors that will work with you on the five themes. These tutors are usually experienced tutors from the School.

Will I be taught new skills?

The sessions are varied and most people will come across a new technique or nugget of information they will find valuable. However, the primary focus is not on developing your painting skills in these sessions. It is about discovery, taking risks and gaining insights. We design the sessions to limber up your creative practice, to energize and to build the critical voice you need as an artist. We are happy to advise you on our shorter course that offer a huge range of practical skills development.

How much contact time is there with tutors?

Your lead tutors will be with you on most of the nine weekends. On some of these days there will be also a guest tutor. There will be a number of one to ones over the programme as well as group crits with your peers. In between sessions the tutors are not available, but we will encourage students to set up their own WhatsApp group to offer peer support and encouragement.

Who else will be on the programme?

Every year is different. We have had new graduates to people who have retired and now have the space to devote to their creative practice. We have had textile artists to filmmakers, those with degrees and MAs to those who have developed their practice from doing short courses. There will be a group of 8 and a group of 10 so the cohort will be small. Many people travel to St Ives to do the programme. People have travelled from London, Wales and all parts of the South West. Whatever age, background or experience you will all be there for the same aim of unlocking the artist you want to be. Your peers will often become a solid group of support that you can take with you far beyond the length of the programme. A Facebook group is set so students can also stay in touch with each other over the year.

How much does it cost? 


Payable in 3 instalments: £150 initial deposit, £1,200 by end Jan, £1,200 as course starts. 

The fee includes tuition, your materials during the workshops, access to free life-drawing classes throughout the programme and professional seminars to plan next steps. 

What happens when the programme ends? 

We programme in number of long weekends exclusively for alumni for those that feel they would like to touch base again and refresh. After that we have a number of offers including artist retreats ranging from five days to a weekend, the opportunity to hire one of our studio with a one one crit as well as some online meet ups. 

What makes the Porthmeor Programme different?

  • We have kept numbers small. Only 8 and 10 students. The small group size means tutors spend more time with each student. 


  • We design the programme so you can find your own voice through the combining of making with discussion and critique with group and one to one feedback. It’s this balance that makes it work so well. 


  • A number of guest artist slots are flexible so we can respond to the needs of the group and bespoke the programme each year. 


  • The programme will include a final weekend focussing on next steps for your practice 


  • It includes 8 weekends (5 of which are long 3 day weekends) working each time with your lead tutor and a guest artist. 





  • Over the summer period the lead artist will arrange a group tutorial on Zoom so you can check in with your summer project . 


  • Between teaching weekends you can take advantage of our weekly life drawing sessions for free. 


  • Materials are included on all the weekend workshops. 


  • And of course we have a view from our studio that has inspired artists for centuries! 


“I feel I am more confident in my ideas and approaching work in a freer more experimental way. I’m more able to push through when the going gets tough. I spend less time worrying and more time painting. 

This programme is a real tonic for artists, the playful approach and the serious are well balanced. It’s great to have surprises and learn something new. I have felt nurtured and challenged throughout”   Jill 

Starting Spring 2020

Two groups will run concurrently: Peter Skerrett will lead a group of 8 and Kerry Harding a group of 10. Both artists have a wealth of experience in teaching and their own artist practice. We want to make sure the programme is going to be a good fit for your current needs. Participants will be selected based on their desire to develop, their ability to commit to making work between sessions and the impact on their practice from joining the programme now. The selection panel will also consider the mix of the group in terms of approaches and experience.

DATES 2020/21

Group 1Group 2
24  – 26  April1 – 3      May
 6  – 7     June30 – 31  May
 3 – 5     July26 – 28  June
Summer  online     tutorialSummer  online tutorial
11  – 13 Sep  4  – 6    Sep
10 – 11  Oct10 – 11   Oct
21 – 22  Nov14  – 15  Nov
 8  – 10  Jan15 – 17   Jan
 6 – 7     Feb13 – 14   Feb
19 – 21  March19 – 21 March


 The Application Process

 Please send us up to five images of your work and no more than five hundred words explaining why you will benefit from joining the programme now, your ability to commit to making between sessions and what you would hope to gain. If you are short listed by the selection panel, we will then be in touch to have a chat via Zoom, so we can get a better feel for how it might work for you. For more information please contact us on 01736 797180 or info@schoolofpainting.co.uk.   subject: Porthmeor Progamme

Porthmeor Programme St.Ives School of Painting 12 August 2015

We caught up with Porthmeor Programme 2018 alumni Sue Watt to get an insight into life before, during and after the programme:

Sue lets us in on her daily routine, her artistic inspiration and her upcoming show at Penwith Gallery…

How would you describe your art practice?
Purposeful, honest and frequently all consuming.

What does your daily routine look like?
The awful teenagers leave at 8.30am and I work until 3pm most days. I also work for a few hours in the evening, normally killing anything good that I have done in the day. I don’t have a routine as such, I just get lost in the work most days. If I stumble, I watch one of my little films and I’m off again…..

What do you enjoy doing outside of your art? How does that feed into your practice?
I am a primary carer for my disabled son Tom so I am either caring or creating. Both feed into each other. I need the high of creating to counteract some of the low of caring. Similarily, a lot of the caring involves quiet contemplative moments where I think about creating. I can’t remember what I used to do before,  but it couldn’t have been important.

Who inspires you as an artist?
There are so many…. Sandra Blow for her absolute commitment, Danny Fox for his story telling, Peter Lanyon for his love of paint and finally but fundamentally, Liz Hough and Ilker Cinarel who showed me how to add purpose, meaning and substance to my work and ultimately, changed my life aswell as my practice.

Have you always been interested in art, or was it something you came to later in life?
I started life drawing 10 years ago, simply to find a room where I didn’t have to talk about being a parent of a disabled child. I only started creating at this level once I had filled in my application for the PP2018 programme. I thought I wouldn’t be chosen and decided that I needed to teach myself how to paint, I think it was my way of preparing for the disappointment. But as luck would have it……

What did you do before the Porthmeor Programme?
Caring for Tom and his brother and sister took up much of my time with ad hoc accountancy work and finally, the odd art class whenever I could fit it in. I had to give up my job when I had Tom which was miserable, as I was very career driven. This work ethic and stamina has filtered into my creating work and I now feel alive again.

What drew you to the programme?
It wasn’t done lightly. I knew if I was successful that it would involve paying for carers, relying on family, etc… etc…. there were so many reasons not to do it but I was desperate for guidance and to meet other artists that were like me.

What would you say has changed for you since the programme?
Everything. I no longer want to produce meaningless, pretty work. The medium also doesn’t matter to me anymore. I am showing you my life whether that is in paint, film, print, etc….. I am a fairly private person so am stunned when the abstracted shapes of a painting (after many layers), let you in.

What is your favourite memory of the programme?
I have painted my favourite memory in ‘Don’t open the window, Pat’ .
My fellow artist friend Pat would regularly hoist up the sash window in the back studio facing onto Porthmeor Beach. The resulting Atlantic gale would blow in and everything we were working on would take off, it was very funny – every time.


Don’t Open the Window Pat – Sue Watt

What advice would you give someone wondering whether to apply for the programme?
‘If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ .  If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity, then show your gratitude in your level of commitment. Above all, remain open minded.

What artistic achievement are you most proud of? 
My care series which is a set of films and installations about my relationship with Tom and caring. I didn’t realise that I was carrying these around in my head. They have given me great pleasure in their creation and I use the resulting shapes and forms in my paintings. The films have also given my family and friends a glimpse of Tom and I that I wouldn’t have shown otherwise,  this has unexpectedly led to a strengthening of my personal relationships.

Are you a full-time artist these days?
Yes, there isn’t time for anything else. And we regularly run out of milk in my house.

How has your studio space evolved since being on the Porthmeor Programme?
I didn’t have a space prior to the programme. Now, I have a studio next door to where I live for the daytime. At night, I work in the spare room next to Tom’s room, so I can also help him if he needs it. He is regularly covered in blue paint.

Have you taken any more courses since the Porthmeor Programme?

No, I only want to work on my own ideas at the moment but I still go to life drawing most weeks. I also try and get to St Ives every few months to film and sketch. It is my place of respite and where I am at my most creative,  with no distractions and demands from my life.

Can you tell us a little more about your upcoming show at the Penwith Gallery?

I will be showing work from my series ‘Spinning on Porthmeor’ which refers to a hand made spinning toy that we make for Tom, who enjoys autistic spinning. I have made representative structures of a spinner and filmed them on Porthmeor beach and will be exhibiting some of the resulting paintings, collage and film. The work helped me recognise that for Tom the spinning is also a form of communication with me, so it is personally very special and I hope to convey that in the work.  The exhibition runs from the 6th of March – 6th of April 2020, PV 6th of March.

What does the future hold for your art?
I am fairly ‘all or nothing’ in my life. I hope to continue in ‘all’ for the remainder of it.

Our Lead Tutors


KERRY HARDING Kerry’s paintings are her own particular view of nature with paint remaining the hero.  By years of exploring more experimental uses of this medium Kerry has a distinctive vocabulary of marks and surfaces that successfully interpret the textures and atmospheres of the Cornish landscape. An experienced painter and skilled tutor, Kerry studied fine art at The Ruskin School, Oxford University in 1991 followed by an MA in fine art at Falmouth and has been teaching at St Ives School of Painting since early 2014. She exhibits widely across London and the South West. See more images at kerryharding.co.uk

PETER SKERRETT Peter Skerrett is a Senior Lecturer in Drawing at the Falmouth School of Art, Falmouth University (since 2001) After a career as a set designer for the theatre and as an Architect, Peter now has his own practice as an artist in his studio at Potager Garden in Cornwall which he co-founded in 2001. His practice is diverse; now mainly concerned with painting and drawings but also incorporates rug making,  writing and furniture design. Design commissions include an alter for Truro Cathedral, conversion of an industrial building to artists’ studios in Penryn and many private houses and gardens around Cornwall.  As both an artist and designer he is interested in the threshold between our private and public nature. Observations made in a variety of places take on new narratives while he works with them in the privacy of the studio. Three years ago (2015) he was awarded a fellowship at the Florence Academy of Art where he learnt the sight size method of drawing. Peter’s diverse approach to his personal art practice and his experience supporting other creatives makes him an exciting lead artist on the Porthmeor Programme for 2019. He also delivers a course using an experimental approach to drawing to help students discover exciting new ways to develop their own creative voice.

 Travelling and Staying

Looking for accommodation? Do browse our website  St Ives Accommodation  but if you are on a tight budget you might like to consider the Cohort Hostel. Cool, contemporary hostel accommodation in the centre of St Ives. Beds from £20/night (room only). WiFi, Courtyard, Bar, Lounge, TV Room, Fully equipped kitchen, Secure dorms and private rooms. Tel: 01736 791664 Travelling from London?  The sleeper train leaves Paddington on a Friday evening arriving at St Erth on a Saturday morning  at 7.40 with the cost of a single cabin £60.

Alumni weekends coming up

Feeling a Porthmeor Programme shaped hole in your life? The Porthmeor Alumni Long Weekends are a series of stepping stones leading on from the solid foundations you have built over the year. Reconnect with the supportive resources of a professional artist tutor; the Porthmeor Studios and an intimate peer group familiar with the unique experience of your artistic journey as a Porthmeor Programme alumni.

18  – 20 October 2019

6 – 8 Dec 2019

10 – 12 Jan 2020

03 – 05 April 2020 (Full)

Alumni self study with tutorial 

30 march – 2 April 2020