Queer St Ives and Other Stories

Dr Ian Massey, who some of you will know from his work with gallery artist Alice Mumford, has written a new book, Queer St Ives and Other Stories. It will be published by Ridinghouse in early June.

You can purchase the book in many outlets including ACC Artbooks

While set within a broader context that refers to queer artists and writers active in Cornwall during the twentieth century (eg: Henry Scott Tuke, Gluck, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf), the book’s main focus is on the years from the post-war 1940s to the late 1970s, a pivotal era in the development of St Ives modernism, and in changing social attitudes to homosexuality and the politics of liberation. It centres on the sculptor John Milne (1931-78) and his circle. Originally from the northwest of England, Milne lived in St Ives from 1952 until the end of his life. Working in the town initially as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth, with whom he established a lifelong friendship, he subsequently set up his own studio, becoming a member of The Penwith Society, and developing an international career, with shows in the UK, Europe and America. Situated behind what is now the Barbara Hepworth Museum, ‘Trewyn’, his home from 1956 onwards became the locus for often riotous parties, and served as a meeting place for many artists, art world figures and celebrities. Among them were the painters Francis Bacon, Helen Frankenthaler, Alan Lowndes, Patrick Procktor, Mark Tobey and Keith Vaughan, and Whitechapel Gallery director Bryan Robertson.

Contact sheet by Ida Kar, photographs of Milne in the garden at Trewyn, 1961.

Interweaving biography with art and social history, Ian’s book is the first ever queer history of St Ives. While set very largely in the town, the narrative shifts also to Manchester, London, Paris, Greece, New York and Morocco, hence the ‘other stories’ of the book’s title.

The two Sculptures above are by Milne and are in the current Belgrave St Ives exhibitions, St Ives and British Modernism 2022. Both are polished Bronzes. The Left one is called Trio II (wdition 7/9, 36cms), the right, Duo (edition 3/8, 38cms). 

Header image: Milne at The Penwith Gallery, c. 1963. Credit: The Penwith Gallery Archive.

Paintings for Spring – Instantly Alive

We launched spring at the gallery with Alice Mumford’s new solo exhibition ‘Paintings for Spring’. Despite lockdown we did it in style, inviting you into the gallery via Instagram Live. What a success that was! Over 100 of you came, and from at least five different countries.

Writer and curator Dr. Ian Massey (@ianmasseyart) hosted the event. Ian and the videographer were our eyes – they gave us a wonderful in-depth tour of the exhibition; zoning into detail and paint surfaces just at the right moments.

A recording of the event can be found here – you need an Instagram account to access it. (An account is very easy to set-up if you want to give it a go, and it’s free.)

We had a number of questions sent ahead that were nearly all answered. A few came in during and after the event, and Alice has been busy answering those. A number of you asked about the books on display at the gallery, particularly the one by Alice and Ian. Here are the details:

Alice Mumford – Colour from Coast to Coast

Book; 25.5 x 21 cms

80 pages + cover
Published by Sansom & Company
Introduction by Alice Mumford
Essay by Ian Massey
Richly illustrated throughout
Price shown does not include postage and packing
Please call gallery for details

Price: £20

A few of you asked about the whites Alice uses, here’s more detail:

Daler Rowney, Graduate; Daler Rowney, Georgian Titanium White
She says ‘I am yet to try Lukas, Titanium White’.

There are key anchor paintings in the exhibition, which Ian highlighted during the event. One that is important is Peeling Apples Together (about half way into the tour). The title of the painting jettisons us straight to Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘When all the others were away at Mass’ – we promised we’d send a link to the poem.

Ian asked the videographer to take us straight to the faces in the mirror found in the painting. (The use of the mirror as a device (bifurcation of space) is discussed during the event whilst landing on the painting Reflected Reading) He asks Alice about the faded faces, a recalled memory? Alice says yes. The flowers are sharp and take you into the faces to fond memories of peeling apples with her niece and in the more distant past, her mother. Hence the connection to the poem as well as the idea of reflection. Ian and Alice discuss the poem in greater detail. Ian talks about the profundity of Heaney; Alice about the playing of time in painting.

We are Heaney fans at the gallery. To have this painting threading ideas through the exhibition makes you look at all the paintings even closer and we are often standing in front of it. Below are graphics from the wonderful Seamus Heaney HomePlace reminding us why Heaney is one of the greatest poets in the world; he tugs at our memories and has helped us see how the everyday is extraordinary. We know even more now to cherish such lived moments, which is why Heaney has probably been breaking records during lockdown even though he is no longer with us.

‘A line from Heaney – a former Nobel laureate – has become an almost ubiquitous refrain on banners, airwaves and social media: “If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.”’ The Guardian, 17th May 2020.

Alice and Ian talked about the structure of painting a lot, particularly through the painting Pink, Vermillion 2020. It made us think about Heaney and poetry again. Here’s another graphic from Heaney’s HomePlace to dwell on before you look at the painting and listen to the recording. It’s the last painting discussed in the recording, so zoom forward to 45 minutes if you just want to focus on that. It’s really great to hear them articulate and move across the canvas.

'Anatomy of A Poem' wall graphic, captured at HomePlace by the gallery in 2017. 

From April 12th you can book in with us to view the exhibition. It covers three spaces in our new location at Higher Bussow Farm, Towednack, St Ives. The full exhibition can be viewed online here and an exhibition catalogue is available from the gallery. Email us info@belgravestives.co.uk

Alice Mumford in conversation with Michael Gaca

View conversation on Vimeo

On a recent visit to Alice Mumford’s studio, Michael noticed several new, small, thematically linked paintings that seemed to form a natural group. These were selected and sent to a new framer in Falmouth to be presented in a fresh way.

When Alice delivered the newly framed paintings to the Belgrave St Ives studio at Towednack, we recorded Alice and Michael in a short informal discussion of the new works, which you can view on Vimeo here.

The group of works are now available priced either £800 or £1150 each from: Belgrave St Ives

ERIC WARD ‘About St Ives’: Installation


ERIC WARD ‘About St Ives’ opened with a Zoom Private View on Saturday 13th June and runs until 4th July.

Following the easing of some government restrictions protecting us against the coronavirus, the gallery is now able to admit visitors to view the exhibition. To maintain social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure safety for visitors and staff, access will be controlled. We shall be operating limited opening times throughout June, so please contact the gallery to confirm the gallery is open or to make an appointment to view.

Interested in art from an early age, Ward is a natural painter working in the tradition of the Realist, plein air painters, and can often be seen painting in St Ives using his trusted pochade painting box. Eric began painting in 1985 at the St Ives School of Painting and has been an active member of the St Ives Society of Artists for many years.

As well as examples of his signature views of St Ives, for this exhibition we asked Eric to consider views of St Ives painted historically by some of the artists that have inspired him, including Arnesby Brown, William Cave Day, John Anthony Park, Leonard Richmond, Borlase Smart, W.H.Y. Titcombe and Terrick Williams, and to reinterpret those views in his own style.

Please view individual works in the exhibition by visiting the gallery website here.

Jessica Cooper & Sarah Woods – Artist notes, Portraits & Gallery Tour

Today the gallery has opened two exhibitions:

Jessica Cooper ‘Reflecting Images‘ &
Sarah Woods ‘The Edge of the Land

4 – 20 May online only, view catalogues on ISSUU @ https://issuu.com/belgravestives

Jessica Cooper. Cornish Artist. Contemporary Artist.
Jessica Cooper in her studio

Cooper The paintings in this exhibition are informed by three specific places and periods of time. A number of the works are executed on canvas –a support and surface with which I am familiar –representing safety, in a certain sense. The others employ wood panels –something of a voyage into the unknown –leading to experimentation and the highlighting of a certain abstraction in the work. These latter works are left unframed, imbuing them with a sense of freedom, breathing space and a lack of restriction. These important qualities are echoed thematically in the subject matter of some of the paintings.The abstracted trapezoid shape that appears in a number of the works originates in a section of a bridge/walkway leading to a beach on the Los Angeles coast. Like the bridge, the shape represents a link, and can thus be found reappearing in paintings regardless of the particular subject. Other objects or shapes in the works have become more isolated, in one sense, or perhaps connected by the space between them, in another. My usual colour palette has shifted to become more limited and muted, with subtle tones and the exploration of different shades, in particular yellows, pinks and browns, which are broadly new to me.Using drawings, photographs and memories, these works have taken a longer time to execute than formerly, using thought, reflection and the re-reading of contemporaneous notes to take myself back to specific times and places, and then using the resulting feelings to create a new sense of purpose and calmness in the work; perhaps an authority, even.

Jessica Cooper. Paintings on canvas and woodpanel. Los Angeles. Cornwall. Belgrave St Ives.

Sarah Woods in Cornish Studio. Painter and printmaker. Belgrave St Ives. Contemporary Art.
Sarah Woods in her studio.

Woods I find most of my inspiration in the simple forms of the coastline surrounding the studio, often towards Zennor and to the North Cliffs of Cornwall. There’s a feeling of openness when you reach the coast that brings balance and calm. The rhythm of the landscape can restore and influence us, as well as bring a focus to the way we work within the environment.This collection of paintings and prints brings attention to the process of making, the method of mark making, and the act of repeating a single movement to represent minimal and balanced observations. The paintings focus on the simple notion of repeating a single mark. Every element is worked by hand, and each piece features a sewn line between the canvas, often suggesting the landscape in the form of a diptych. As each tone is layered, I visualise the landscape in areas of light and dark, similar to the method of mark making in my drawings and prints. The lines of an etching signify something meditative in the landscape. A methodical process of observing and drawing the coast, reflecting the balance that being beside the water brings. The motion of the water seems to echo the methodical lines of my drawings with focus on movement, feeling and repetition. Something structured but also intuitive is reflected in the process of working on a print. Each print begins with a sketchbook drawing that is slowly worked into an etching, and printed to a limited edition in the studio. When working with a plate my practice of printmaking focuses on the movement of ink and the direction of hand-drawn lines, becoming familiar with the marks that are unique to each piece.

Sarah Woods. Prints and Paintings. Belgrave St Ives..

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You can tour the exhibitions in our 3D virtual gallery space. This gives you a great way to visit Gallery 1 on the fly! It will also help you see the work in context, as the work is framed and sized. Click here and make a cuppa while it loads and then you can take your time and explore.  And don’t forget you can find full details of the exhibitions on the front page of our website too.


PRESS RELEASE – Jessica Cooper & Sarah Woods – About their exhibitions at Belgrave

4th MAY 2020
JESSICA COOPER Reflecting Images
SARAH WOODS The Edge of the Land
4 – 30 May 2020, Belgrave St Ives

Jessica Copper and Sarah Woods have created a body of work that can perhaps help us a little in this period of isolation. Their paintings and drawings hold unique lines, rhythms and meditative qualities and offer us that intangible beguiling quality that one seeks from being near to the coast.

Spring is arguably the most beautiful season in Cornwall. The cliffs and hinterland are full of colour from the abundant flora, and the extra lines of light that gravitate towards you, from the sunny hue of the water’s edge or through the interior space of a window, are unparalleled. However, this spring more of us can’t see coastal views and dreamy interiors, we just have to remember, reimagine or carry on dreaming them. Cooper and Woods’ work is restorative; they produce a sensitive quality of line, deal with the moods of coastal landscapes and seek a meditative or at least a reflective response to each piece of work they create. They help us reconfigure.

Sarah Woods Across the North Cliffs 2019
Acrylic on hand-sewn canvas; (diptych) Each canvas 101.5 x 101.5 cms

Cooper, a respected and well-known painter due to her paired back style and dedication, has looked back on her practice to create a new body of work for this show. She has studied the landscape and the still-life images she has created in the past, which has specifically brought her to look at three places and three periods of time. The first circulates around imagery from Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, the second is a counter space to this cliff and beach space, a frenetic Los Angles neighbourhood that she visits and works in, where the mid century interior is often present. The final space is the interior of her brother’s home in which a body of her work hangs. She explains ‘she realises there is a link to the LA interior and its materiality, and her childhood home with views to the sea’.

Jessica Cooper, Contemporary Painting, Belgrave St Ives, Cornwall
Jessica Cooper Air and Space and Knowing that I Love You 2020
Acrylic on canvas; 61 x 61 cms

Encompassing these spaces of time, Cooper gives you room to breath as you view coastline such as the famous chapel perched ceremonially above Porthmeor Beach. However, just when you might feel calm and comfortable and at home, she offers still life’s that are teetering on the edge of what seem hills or valleys or an abstracted void for you to start questioning or loose yourself in, but then there’s brush-marks, wood panelling and a palette of translucent colours that transport you to what might be light filled rooms, blossoming plants or breezy places to lie and rest.

Belgrave St Ives, Jessica Cooper, Painting, British, Art in isolation
Jessica Cooper (b.1967) Reflecting Images 2020
Acrylic and pen on canvas; 81 x 86.5 cms

Woods, like Cooper, focuses on time spent in the calmness of an ordered studio as much as in the landscape. However, whereas Cooper’s work encompasses the still life as well as the landscape and mixes those two genres at times together, Woods work manifests solely in the representation of landscapes through prints and paintings. As she paints she visualises the landscape in areas of light and dark, similar to the method of mark making in her prints. The canvas of each painting is hand stitched and stretched, and each tone is layered; the structure and process of the work, not just the subject, is balanced. She says the rhythm of the Cornish landscape can restore and influence as well as bring focus to the way she works within the environment.
Sarah Woods, Belgrave St Ives, St Agnes, Cornwall, Contemporary Art

Sarah Woods From Blue Hills, St. Agnes 2020. Edition of 35
Etching on Somerset Satin paper; 40 x 28 cms (plate) Sheet size: 50 x 35 cms

A painter and printmaker, Woods is working from an historic studio in Newlyn, Cornwall. Woods graduated from Falmouth University in 2016. Since then she has maintained a critical focus, honing her printmaking and painting skills through making and exhibiting. She finds most of her inspiration in the simple forms of the coastline surrounding the studio, often towards Zennor.

For most of her life, Cooper has lived and worked in West Penwith, Cornwall. This is her base though she travels widely, particularly to California. She draws inspiration from these coastal locations. She studied at Falmouth College of Art and Goldsmiths University of London graduating in 1989. Cooper is a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists, Penwith Society of Artists, and is an elected RWA. She has exhibited widely including at The Exchange, Penzance and Tate St. Ives.

#ArtStives #lockdownart @belgravestives

You can read more about their exhibitions and see a 3D virtual tour of their work here


For further information and images, please contact Richard Blackborow:
Belgrave St Ives, 22 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE
richard@belgravestives.co.uk tel. 01736 794888



30 Mar – 20 Apr 2020, Belgrave St Ives

The largest exhibition to date by the gallery sees over 100 works by 50 artists associated with St Ives Modernism. It brings together key figures like W Barns-Graham, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson with lesser known names such as John Barnicoat, Bob Bourne, Jeffrey Harris and Inez Hoyton.

Hilton_Untitled_Chickens_1973_SmRoger Hilton Untitled (Chickens) Gouache and charcoal; 38.5 x 56 cms

It is 22 years since the Belgrave Gallery (established London 1974) opened a second gallery in St Ives to specialize in showing the work of artists associated with Cornwall from 1930s to the present day. Following the inaugural exhibition in 1999 ‘St Ives – The Modern Movement’ the gallery has presented an annual exhibition of accessible paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture by the leading artists of this period shown alongside less well known but interesting artists working at the same time.

This annual exhibition, usually held in the Spring, has gained something of a reputation among art collectors interested in St Ives Modernist Art, making it an important port of call whether visiting Cornwall or through the comprehensive printed exhibition catalogue and gallery website.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Underwater Movement Pen, ink and wash; 19.5 x 26.5 cms

Artists included: John Barnicoat, W. Barns-Graham, Max Barrett, Trevor Bell, Anthony Benjamin, Sandra Blow, Bob Bourne Charles Breaker, Max Chapman, Tom Cross, Bob Crossley, Alan Davie, Michael Finn, Clifford Fishwick, Terry Frost, Jeffrey Harris, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Inez Hoyton, Bryan Ingham, Peter Lanyon, Jeremy Le Grice, Bernard Leach, Janet Leach, Padraig Mac Miadhachain, Margo Maeckelberghe, Margaret Mellis, John Milne, Denis Mitchell, Ben Nicholson, Kate Nicholson, Simon Nicholson, Harry Ousey, John Anthony Park, Victor Pasmore, Bryan Pearce, Douglas Portway, William Scott, Michael Snow, Troika Pottery, Doris Vaughan, John Wells, Karl Weschke and Guy Worsdell

The show will be held in all gallery exhibition spaces. A fully illustrated colour catalogue is available. Higher resolution images are available for print.

#StivesModernism @belgravestives

Jeffrey Harris Dalesman Oil and pencil on Masonite; 29 x 32 cms


For further information and images, please contact Richard Blackborow:

Belgrave St Ives, 22 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE

richard@belgravestives.co.uk    tel. 01736 794888

Hoyton_SurfOnACornishBeach_SmInez Hoyton Surf on a Cornish Beach Oil on board; 41 x 51 cms



Installation: Sven Berlin – Drawings from The Dark Monarch

Please enjoy these informal installation shots of our exhibition of 27 of the 32 drawings made for The Dark Monarch by Sven Berlin. Executed c.1955, these drawings were used as illustrations for his notorious roman-à-clef The Dark Monarch in 1962. The work was a thinly-disguised and irreverent portrait of St Ives, its artists, and others who lived and worked in the town. Among the loosely disguised cast of artistic characters were W. Barns-Graham, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Bernard Leach, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter and many others. The novel was withdrawn soon after publication, when legal action was taken by four of the local ‘characters’ in the book. This is the first time that the original drawings made for the novel have been exhibited.

You can view the individual works in the exhibition by following this link to the gallery website.

Alice Mumford / Composite Shadows / Installation

Our Alice Mumford exhibition opened with a very lively Private View on Saturday evening, and the show has been visited and enjoyed by many visitors since we opened the doors on Monday. The exhibition runs until 7 Oct and coincides with the St Ives September Festival. We hope you enjoy the installation shots above, you can also view individual works on the gallery website here.