Head down the lively bustle of Tregenna Hill past Wicked Imp Designs, who sell unique pieces of jewellery, fabric, art and ceramics, then turn right on Street-An-Pol and pop into the Anima Mundi contemporary art gallery opposite the Town Hall. You’ll also find the Waterside Gallery on the corner of Street-An-Pol and St Andrews Street. This gallery specialises in figurative paintings, ceramics, sculpture and studio glass.
At the end of Street-An-Pol turn left along the narrow winding St Andrews Street towards St Ia’s Church or head straight to the waterfront, where across from the historic St Ives Arts Club is the Porthminster Gallery. Here, limited edition lithograph and silk screen prints by some of St Ives greats can be bought as well as work by recent artists. But on windy days at high tide be careful a wave doesn’t soak you as it slaps against the quay wall.
At the end of St Andrews Street the animated Fore Street begins. The New Craftsman and Belgrave galleries are located here. Now in its 54th year, the New Craftsman is the oldest art gallery in St Ives and has a prestigious history associated with the St Ives School, the Leach Pottery and now the very best in contemporary Cornish art and craft. The Belgrave St Ives specialises in Modern British and Contemporary Art with a particular emphasis on work by artists associated with Cornwall from the 1930s to the present time.
Around the corner, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden on Barnoon Hill, the home and working studio of one of the greatest female artists of the last century. This peaceful enclave in the middle of a busy town has a magical, transformative quality. Hepworth’s tool-strewn workshop, preserved as it was in 1975, is a poignant legacy of her life and art. Only a few steps away along Back Street, Plumbline gallery is also well worth a look.
At the island end of Fore Street disappear up the quiet cobbled lanes and find the Salthouse gallery on Norway Square or Sloop Studios on Back Lane. Further along Back Road West, the Penwith Gallery has a wonderful collection of abstract paintings on exhibition and for sale.
As Back Road East opens out onto Porthmeor Beach the world-renowned Tate St Ives gallery with its stunning views over the Atlantic is just round the corner. Now open after a two year, £4million expansion, breathing new life into its exhibition space and permanent collection of St Ives artists. The cafe on the top floor has an outside terrace overlooking the sea.
For another day, at the top of town on Higher Stennack, The Leach Pottery, is the former house, workplace and museum of the acclaimed “father of British studio pottery” Bernard Leach. The Tremenheere Sculpture Garden in Gulval has gallery space for up-and-coming artists, plus an excellent restaurant with glorious views towards St Michael’s Mount. The Newlyn Gallery & The Exchange and The Penlee House & Gallery in Penzance, and the Kurt Jackson Foundation gallery in St Just are also worth a visit.
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