Not to be confused with the earlier St Ives school of painters established by Julius Olsson and Louis Grier at the end of the nineteenth century, the seeds of St Ives position as Britain's centre of modern art were sown by Ben Nicholson and his wife Barbara Hepworth when they settled there in 1939 and were shortly afterwards followed by Russian Constuctivist sculptor, Naum Gabo. An earlier visit to St Ives by Nicholson and Christopher Wood and their encounter with the naive artist and fisherman Alfred Wallis, had a profound impact upon the young artists and undoubtedly influenced Nicholson's later move.  After the second World War, under the leadership of Nicholson and Hepworth, St Ives began to gather pace as a centre for modern and abstract art. In the late 1940s and early 1950s a group of younger artists gathered around Hepworth and Nicholson (until the latter's departure in 1958), and the St Ives School gained critical mass becoming the centre of abstract art in the country. Just like their ninetenth century forebearers, these artists were drawn to the distinct light in St Ives, the ancient field structures, moors with their neolithic quoits and carns and a dramatic coastline in its immediate environment, not to mention the fishing community which was still very active. The principal figures of the St Ives School include Peter Lanyon, who was brought up in St Ives, Paul Feiler, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Bryan Wynter and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. A major redevelopment of the Tate St Ives in 2017 afforded a permanent, dedicated display of the work and international context of this remarkable collective of artists.

  • Porthledden 1960 by Paul Feiler
    Paul Feiler
    Porthledden, May 1960
    Oil on canvas
    61 cm x 102 cm
  • Road to St Ives by Peter Lanyon
    Peter Lanyon
    The Road to St Ives, 1938
    Oil on panel
    33 cm x 40.8 cm