Friday, 8 July 2011

Studio Envy - Porthmeor Studios, St Ives

I first visited St Ives in the mid nineties and immediately fell in love with the town along with every other remotely arty person on the planet. There's a lot to love, where else would you find sandy beaches, quirky shops, great restaurants and above all, an abundance of galleries including, of course The Tate and many other, much visited favourites of mine, such as The Penwith Gallery,  Millennium Gallery, and The Wills Lane Gallery,



Porthmeor Studios from the beach - Photograph by Graham Gaunt


Porthmeor studios are situated overlooking the beautiful sandy Porthmeor beach. They have a fragile beauty and stand in stark contrast to the modern white structure of the Tate just a little further up the beach. The Studios have been beaten and battered by the salty winds from the Atlantic Ocean for more than 150 years although they were used as lofts for the Pilchard fishing industry that dominated St Ives in their early years.

The St Ives School of Painting opened in 1938 by two Officers, Borlase Smart and Leornard Fuller who had made a wartime pledge that one day, if they survived , that they would live and paint in St Ives.

Since then Porthmeor Studios have seen many illustrious painters and sculptors take up residence. Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Wilhelmina Barns Graham and Patrick Heron have all worked there over the years.

A course at The St Ives School of Painting



Wilhelmina Barns Graham 1947




Millennium Series Red II, 2000, screenprint, edition of 75, 24 x 30 cm. (Picture from www.galleries.co.uk)

John Emanuel

John Emanuel - Head (www.johnemanuel.co.uk)


The crumbling studios have recently become so dilapidated that they were in serious danger of becoming unfit for purpose. Fortunately they have been rescued and are now undergoing a four million pound renovation project with funding from Arts Council England, Sea Change/CABE, Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Cornwall Council, ERDF Convergence, and European Fisheries Fund
Let us hope that Porthmeor Studios continue to be a workplace for artists and fishermen for many years to come.


Photograph by Graham Gaunt


As a family, we have spent many happy holidays renting an apartment overlooking Porthmeor Beach. I have also ventured into the studios to do some life drawing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever occupy one of the coveted Porthmeor Studios, but I will continue to take my sketchbook to the beach and hope to soak up some of the painterly vibes from the artists of the past.

Yours truly, sketching on Porthmeor Beach


Here are some Youtube videos that give a little bit more of an insight into the environment and the artists that work in the studios.

Naomi Frears at Porthmeor 
St Ives Porthmeor studios Open Day 
Lucy Bray St Ives Artist Painting in Porthmeor Studios
Sandra Blow's Studio
John Emanuel at Porthmeor











 

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