Our favourite art galleries in St Ives
Artists have been drawn to the dramatic landscapes and ever-changing light around St Ives for centuries. By the early 20th century, artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach had made the town their home, and the arrival of the Tate St Ives in 1990s confirmed the town as an artists’ mecca. Today, it continues to inspire a thriving creative community, with thousands of holidaymakers exploring the numerous galleries and museums that line the streets of this little Cornish seaside town each year. Here are just some of our favourite galleries to visit in Cornwall’s cultural capital.
Tate St Ives
Sitting proudly above Porthmeor beach, housed in a repurposed gasworks on the seafront, the iconic building of Tate St Ives is one of the most visited attractions in Cornwall. For nearly three decades, the gallery has showcased some of the best-loved pieces of contemporary art from artists with links to the local area, including permanent exhibitions from husband and wife team sculptor Barbara Hepburn and modernist painter Ben Nicholson. A regularly-changing programme of exhibitions explore the best of British and international modern and contemporary art and celebrates Cornwall’s rich and diverse history. Don’t miss the fabulous views from the top floor cafe!
The New Craftsman
Widely regarded as the oldest gallery in St Ives, the New Craftsman Gallery has supported the work of contemporary Cornish artists since its inception, propelling emerging artists on the British Modernism scene into the limelight. The gallery curates eight exhibitions each year and continues to draw artists and visitors from all over the world. The gallery also hosts regular workshops such as the Stone Weaving workshop, where you can make your own cane-wrapped stone using a centuries-old Japanese basketry technique.
Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden
Also run by Tate St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is located in the artist’s old studio where she lived and worked from 1949 until her death in 1975. The lush, subtropical garden is an intimate, peaceful place, tucked away in the centre of the town and features the largest collection of Hepworth’s work in stone, wood and bronze, many of them in the original positions she herself placed them. It gives a fascinating insight into one of the 20th century’s most important sculptors, allowing visitors the opportunity to discover how the Cornish landscape influenced the artist’s work. Don’t miss the free daily tours.
Founded in the 1920s by friends Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, Leach Pottery in St Ives is considered to be one of the birthplaces of British Studio Pottery and remains one of the most influential potteries to this day. Widely regarded as the father of British studio pottery, Leach worked here in the studio until his death, pioneering a style of functional yet beautiful pottery. Today, it’s both a museum and a working studio, and trustees of the studio also run pottery workshops on a regular basis.
Modern art lovers mustn’t miss the brilliant, independent and award-winning Anima Mundi gallery, based in the recently converted Christian Science reading rooms in St Ives. The gallery brings together international artists from all medias, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance and installation from local artists such as Sax Impey, whose work is derived almost exclusively from experiences at sea as a qualified RYA Yachtmaster.
Located just off Porthminster beach, the unpretentious and welcoming Portminster Gallery on Fore Street was originally founded in York in 1999. It showcases the best of British art, including prints, paintings, sculpture and ceramics from some of the biggest names in modern art, including Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Peter Lanyon and Henry Moore. Past exhibitions have included ‘Sea Stories’ featuring paintings, prints and ceramics with a connection to the coast, and ‘Penwith Rhythms’ which looked at Cornwall’s prehistoric and sacred landscapes.
St Ives Society of Artists
The St Ives School was a group of artists which sprung up after the First World War, founded by marine artist George Fagan Bradshaw who decided that a society should be formed to promote the work of the local artists. Located in the beautiful Mariners’ Church, the St Ives Society Of Artists is a wonderful gallery to browse and shop for contemporary, abstract art including paintings, fine art prints, ceramics, sculptures and cards. They also host a regular programme of visiting artists, workshops, concerts and other events.
Art Space Gallery
The welcoming and friendly Art Space Gallery is must for visitors wishing to add to their collection of Cornish art. Art Space was established in 2000 to showcase the work of seven local artists, offering a selection of affordable and collectable original paintings, prints, ceramics and jewellery, run by the artists themselves. The ever-changing exhibition includes traditional oils, vibrant acrylics, delicate watercolours, pit-fired ceramics and striking woodcuts from land and sea.
If you’re planning a week of culture in St Ives, why not have a look at our collection of holiday cottages in St Ives