St Ives in Cornwall has a long history as a fishing village, with the old rambling Sloop Inn built around 1312 and a popular dinking place for fishermen since then, being the oldest pub in Cornwall. The arrival of the railway in 1877 brought holiday makers seeking the sun and the sands and major expansion of the village to accommodate them.
It is art however, for which St Ives is perhaps today most famous, becoming from the 1920′s one of Britain’s most innovative and exciting centres for contemporary art, with Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada establishing the Leach Pottery in 1920, the St Ives Society of Artists being established in 1927, while Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo moved here in 1939 and the town has attracted artists from overseas such as Piet Mondrian and Maurice Sumray, as it still does today. In its own way, with an entirely different environment of blue skies, crystal clear seas and varied landscapes, it mirrored the creative community around Montmartre in Paris, with it’s lively art community continuing to give the town its unique character today, where the number of artist’s studios and galleries is astonishing, to which was added Tate St Ives in 1993,recently reopened after a major expansion.
With the impact of the Second World War, several artists moved out of London. Henry Moore moved his studio to a farm in Hertfordshire, while, a year earlier, Barbara Hepworth and her husband Ben Nicholson decamped to St Ives. In 1949, they moved to Trewyn Studio where Barbara Hepworth worked until her death in 1975. Today, cared for by Tate St Ives, it is just as if she has popped out for a moment and will be back shortly, with the studios waiting for her to pick up her chisel and continuing working and the garden laid out as she planned it with many of her favourite sculptures with the help of her friend, the South African-British composer Priaulx Rainier.
‘Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic. Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space.’ (Barbara Hepworth).
A fascinating place to visit, discretely hidden, to experience the environment in which she worked and to see the collection of her sculptures on display here.