SPOTLIGHT on St Ives
From the Arts Council Collection
A new Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition
29 July – 09 September 2006, Worcester City Art Gallery and
2006 is the 60th anniversary of the Arts Council Collection, the
most exciting collection of post-war and contemporary British art
in the world. The Hayward Gallery, which manages the Collection,
is planning a year-long celebration, which includes the new touring
exhibition Spotlight on St Ives, and culminates in a major show
at the Hayward in September 2006.
Bringing together 25 paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture
from the Arts Council Collection, Spotlight on St Ives explores
three decades of art inspired by the landscapes of West Cornwall.
Starting with Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, the exhibition
introduces other artists who worked in Cornwall in the post-war
years, including well-known figures such as Terry Frost, Peter
Lanyon and Roger Hilton. Spotlight on St Ives opens at the Glynn
Vivian Gallery in Swansea on 30 April 2006, before embarking on
a national tour.
The artists who were associated with the
St Ives school worked in a diverse range of media and styles,
united primarily by the unique light and landscape that informed
their work. Ben Nicholson moved to St Ives with Barbara Hepworth
in 1939, having ten years earlier ‘discovered’ the
work of local artist Alfred Wallis, whose works such as Trawler
(1925) awoke in him a new sense of simplicity. Hepworth was also
profoundly affected by their new surroundings, with sculptures
such as Spring (1966) drawing inspiration from the land and ancient
Hepworth and Nicholson were central to
the growing artistic community, and a number of younger artists,
including Terry Frost, John Milne and Denis Mitchell, worked
as Hepworth’s studio assistants.
In Red, Yellow and Blue (1962), Frost evokes the experience of
walking along the quayside, seeing moored boats rocking against
each other: ‘It is the sensation’, he explained ‘you
don’t copy it.’
Other artists sought alternative viewpoints
from which to experience the landscape. This led Peter Lanyon
to take up gliding, and Soaring Flight (1960) is one of several
works that describe the sensation of flight. Similarly, Bryan
Wynter’s series of paintings
from the mid-1950s were inspired by his canoe outings, exploring
new perspectives related to the experience of moving on or below
In the post-war years, others came to join the thriving community.
Roger Hilton was a regular visitor from the mid 1950s, eventually
settling in St Just in 1965. His freely painted, highly personal
abstract shapes take their inspiration from the body as much as
the landscape. Confined to bed during his final years, he produced
a series of lively gouaches, many of which provide a witty and
bleak comment on his predicament.
Patrick Heron settled permanently in Zennor in 1955, drawing
inspiration from the visual experiences directly around him, with
the colours and circles in paintings such as Ultramarine, Cinnamon
and Dull Yellow (1960) relating to the boulders and flowing shrubs
in his impressive garden.
The art produced in St Ives during the 1940s, 50s and 60s went
far beyond the provincial, with many of the artists achieving international
success. Spotlight on St Ives illustrates the variety of ways in
which a diverse group of artists responded to the unique Cornish
landscape, producing some of the most innovative and influential
art in twentieth-century Britain.
For future tour dates and venues, visit (link
will open in a new window) www.hayward.org.uk