The Artists of St Ives

Online exhibition

A selection of painting and sculpture by artists associated with St Ives

It is impossible for me to make a painting which has no reference to the powerful environment in which I live.  Peter Lanyon

Hepworth, Heron, Lanyon, Nicholson, Wallis are but some of the names to have been inspired by the wonderful Cornish seaside town, St Ives, becoming irrevocably intertwined in its dramatic landscapes and changing the shape of British Modernism for generations to come.

The key figures associated with the St Ives are primarily known as abstract artist. Much of the work they have produced is rooted in St Ives’ landscape. The share of coastline can be found in paintings, collages and in sculpture. The unique light that has proven to be irresistible to artists, reflects off the sea and is captured in glowing turquoise tones offset by natural muted shades. Sense of movement is echoing the restless energy of the sea.

Ben Nicholson had first visited St Ives during the 1920s with his first wife Winifred. It was here that he and Christopher Wood ‘discovered’ the work of local fisherman Alfred Wallis. They were both delighted and inspired by his naïve seascapes.

Nicholson would return to St Ives during the Second World War, this time with his second wife Barbara Hepworth. Here their reductive style of abstraction found sympathy with other painters: Peter Lanyon, John Wells and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

In 1954 painters connected to the St. Ives School including Terry Frost, William Scott and Roger Hilton were included in Lawrence Alloway’s survey Nine Abstract Artists. This publication was significant for examining their work within the framework of contemporary theories of perception. It also introduced the abstract sculptures of Victor Pasmore and Robert Adams - their industrial-looking forms recalled the Constructivist style pioneered by Naum Gabo in the 1930s.

Alan Davie had purchased a house near Land’s End in the 1960s and  spent a lot of time in Cornwall.

Adrian Heath was wholly committed to abstract art by 1950. In 1951 Heath was one of only six St Ives artists selected for the Artists International Associations Abstract Art show in association with the Festival of Britain, intended to celebrate the very best of contemporary British art. He exhibited alongside works of Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, Roger Hilton and Terry Frost.

Trevor Bell arrived in the Cornish resort in 1955, when it was the epicenter for British abstract art. He made his reputation as a leading member of the local scene and is known for creating huge canvasses. He was described as the ‘last of the St Ives modernists’.

All works are for sale.