The coastal town of St Ives has long been a popular retreat for artists escaping the bustling British cities, and in the summer it’s impossible not to see why one should be drawn to the mainland’s most south-westerly tip. St Ives has famously attracted artists for many generations, and many attribute its popularity with the quality of light.


WINIFRED NICHOLSON, FLOWERS, CIRCA 1951. ESTIMATE £40,000–60,000.

Reminiscent of a warmer European climate, the Cornish town has long been a haven for artists with a fascination for landscape and the sea. Barbara Hepworth, Naum Gabo and Terry Frost all lived and worked here throughout the twentieth century; and it even captured the imagination of international visitors such as Mark Rothko, intrigued by the thriving community of artists and makers who made it their home in the 1950s.


BEN NICHOLSON, ST IVES ROOFTOP - VESSEL AND BOATS, CIRCA 1951. ESTIMATE £50,000–70,000.

St Ives plays a pivotal position within the history of twentieth century British art. Made famous by Whistler and Stanhope Forbes in the early part of the century, it was to St Ives that Ben Nicholson, his wife Winifred and the young painter Christopher Wood travelled to in the first half of the century, stumbling across the cottage of the mariner Alfred Wallis, who was to have a profound impact over their artist development. Ben painted the rooftops from his house Trezion, situated at the top of a steep alley called Sulubrious Place, whilst Winifred depicted flowers artfully arranged in jugs and vases looking out onto the sea beyond.


FEATURING WORK BY BEN NICHOLSON, BERNARD LEACH, WILLIAM MARSHALL AND JANET LEACH.

The town’s association with ceramics was cemented when in the late 1920s Bernard Leach, the founder of the British Studio Ceramics, returned from Japan and set up a studio at the top of the town. It was here that he brought Eastern ideas to a Western audience, combining them with the traditionally British styles of slip trailing. Here he trained some of the most exciting names in the ceramics field, including his first apprentice Michael Cardew, and his long-term studio assistant William Marshall. Eventually, his third wife Janet, an American who worked in a drastically different style, took over the running of the pottery, which remains an important feature of the town’s life, drawing visitors from all around the world.


BRYAN INGHAM, PORTRAIT OF AYSEL, 1994. ESTIMATE £4,000–6,000.

St Ives remained a draw for artists for the rest of the century and those who flocked to the town included the Post-War artists Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon, whose work Witness features in the Bowie/Collector sale.

PETER LANYON, WITNESS, 1961. ESTIMATE £250,000–350,000.

It remains popular to the present day with more recent artists inspired by the town’s rich visual heritage including Bryan Ingham and Bryan Pearce.


BRYAN PEARCE, PORTHGWIDDEN FROM THE ISLAND, 1993. ESTIMATE £8,000–12,000.

Regardless of your artistic tastes, you are bound to find something that excites you in St Ives – be it the fantastic collection of galleries; Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth’s Studio and Gardens, the long sweeping beaches, coastal walks, or even just the world-class fish and chips.