Cornish arts and Cornish crafts

The artistic heritage of Cornwall can be seen in the abundance of galleries, museums and art schools to be found in the county.

From St Ives artists to the Tate Gallery

Cornish arts and crafts are internationally recognised but nothing can beat coming to see Cornwall to realise just why it is such a haven for artists.

Cornwall has a quality of light that has attracted so many artists. Wind down narrow lanes to many a fishing village and you will see old sail lofts converted to artists studios. The Cornish landscape and ever changing seascape is also an inspiration.

Back Road Studios

The railway revolution

During the mid nineteenth century these delights were opened up to an influx of artists via the newly connected rail network.

Cornish artists could now enjoy the benefits of living in an inspiring landscape but still have the ability to transport artworks back for exhibition in London. The impressionist movement of the time revelled in the ability to paint for longer in the open air and The Forbes School of Painting was established in Newlyn.

artists studio

From pilchards to potters

Before long, differences in artistic direction saw artists colonies spread to the nearby villages of Lamorna and St Ives. At the time, the local fishing industry was also in decline as pilchard catches yielded less than was needed to sustain trade. The seasonal nature of fishing as a livelihood, which until now been the main subject for many artists paintings, appealed to the benevolent nature of the masters in the Guild of Handicrafts as a way of re-employing the local community.

By the late nineteenth century, the Newlyn Industrial Class was producing a wide range of home wares and decorative copper items in the arts and crafts style. Now collectible, such Cornish crafts can be viewed in the galleries and museums in the area.

silver bowls

Modernism in art

By 1920, the first internationally recognised pottery works for Cornwall had been established at Porthmeor Studios in the St Ives artists quarters. The St Ives School itself grew with the flight of many avant garde artists from English towns and other countries during the second world war and by 1950 the area had become an important debating area for modernism in art.

Recently renovated, today the studios sit above working fishing cellars and host classes and workshops for all ages.

blue glass plates

Museums, festivals & craft fairs

The Tate St Ives can be found nearby as can The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The Newlyn School was reinvigorated by arts council funding in 2011 and now offers courses taught by many of the best known artists in Cornwall today.

Cornish artists celebrate their art and heritage with a variety of festivals and craft fairs throughout the year and you will never be short of being able to view, take part or enjoy the vast range available.

Tate St Ives

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