St. Ives School
Since the nineteenth century, Cornwall has played an important role in the visual arts of Britain and Ireland. In the 1880’s the seaside town of Newlyn became a haven for artists, drawn there by a love of landscape and by a shared interest in European Realism and Impressionism. In the 1940’s, the equally attractive fishing village of St. Ives eclipsed Newlyn as a centre for contemporary visual arts, with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and others promoting abstract and non-figurative art.
This selection of works from the Crawford Gallery collection highlights some artists of the Newlyn and St. Ives Schools, including painters from Ireland who worked in Cornwall.
Among the Newlyn artists represented here are Frank Bramley, ‘Lamorna’ Birch and George Clausen. Their paintings reveal an interest in Continental art that was more progressive, in the 1880’s, than their counterparts in London or Dublin. The Limerick painter Norman Garstin also spent time in Newlyn and his painting Sunshine in the Beguinage shows the influence of Impressionsism.
Many artists contributed to the reputation of St. Ives, not least the local fisherman Alfred Wallis, represented here by Ships. Wallis painted naif scenes of local life that were sought after by Nicholson and other progressive artists and collectors. In the late 1950’s, the Irish artist Tony O’Malley made the first of several visits to St. Ives, before settling there some years later. O’Malley responded to the landscape-inspired abstraction of Peter Lanyon as well as the more measured geometric non-figurative art of Ben Nicholson, and the three paintings by O’Malley shown here demonstrate different facets of his career. The painterly Hawk and Quarry, In Memory of Peter Lanyon was painted in 1964, The Studio, 4 Porthmeor dates from 1975, while the more recent elegaic Dark Shape, Black Line was painted in 1991. Another Irish artist associated with the St. Ives School is William Scott, also represented in the Crawford collection.
The painting At the Edge of the Tide by Nancy Wynne-Jones, reveals a style of abstraction rooted, like that of Lanyon, firmly in the landscape. After living in Cornwall, Wynne-Jones settled in Kinsale, Co. Cork, with her husband, the sculptor Conor Fallon, where she continued to paint.