Driving along the coastal approach to St Ives, Cornwall, you keep being tantalised by gorgeous glimpses of the open ocean that is the Atlantic. But nothing can prepare you for the belt between the eyes you get when rounding the final corner. There in front of you is the harbour – a dazzling combination of tropical blues of every hue, yellows from the sand (no mud here) and lichens on the pretty roof tops and the greys of the granite buildings and piers.
It’s true what they say about this magnificent town – the light here really is different and it makes you feel alive. On top of that it’s just so breathtakingly beautiful. It’s obvious to me why so many artists have been drawn here over the decades and this is reflected in the general vibe and the preponderance of galleries and working artists’ studios.
I’ve talked before about my west country roots and of our annual family trips to Devon and Cornwall – really of course this is generally less about art and more about good fun! The beaches, harbours, moorlands and the fishing and surfing and general unwinding which goes with it all. This is only our third visit to St Ives as a family, and I think we’re falling in love with the place……
As a rest from hours of surfing (Porthmeor Beach has surf every bit as good as anywhere in the west country), we took a little excursion to The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, right in the heart of town but somehow in what feels like a quiet backwater. I was happy enough to go there but not all that fussed really – thinking that Barbara Hepworth’s work really isn’t my cup of tea….
How wrong I was…….yet again!
Her work is extraordinary and seen in her gardens with the St Ives backdrop, it’s just amazing – all seemingly without fuss. She’s taken all that I’ve learnt so far about going abstract (see earlier blog) to another level – by stripping back her message still further to the barest essentials.
The Museum and Garden has been so well put together and preserved by her family in conjunction with the Tate – in particular I liked the way her workshops have been left undisturbed since the day she left them. For me this was very moving. You could almost feel her very presence. www.tate.org.uk/stives
The boys enjoyed it too. The picture below captures us through one of her magnificent sculptures, having fun copying her work in plastelene supplied by the museum.
Being now a huge fan, I’ve already ploughed through her autobiography and the various statements assembled by her Estate. One of my favourite quotes is: I gradually discovered the remarkable pagan landscape which lies between St Ives, Penzance and Land’s End; a landscape which still has a very deep effect on me, developing all my ideas about the relationship of the human figure in landscape – sculpture in landscape and the essential quality of light in relation to sculpture which induced a new way of piercing the forms to contain colour.
Feeling totally inspired, I’m now planning to explore greater abstraction in some of my work. If I can reflect my own reactions and observations of nature and the environment, as well as our interaction with it – how powerful would that be!!
Once again, please watch this space….
Thanks to Jo, my wife, for the lovely pics xxx! www.joscottimages.co.uk