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 @

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 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    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.

Part Earth Part Flower is Installed

Painting with Plants and Porcelain, How the Exhibition will Evolve through September and October

Autumn brings rapid change to plant life; some plants coming into their ‘best’ with late flowering blooms, others dying back to nourish the earth for future generations or drying out to form seeds for next years’ plants. The display in the gallery reflects this process of change and variety in the surrounding landscape of the here and now. Materials gathered from local gardens reflect the season, our environment, and celebrate the beauty and bounty of what surrounds us. Throughout the course of the exhibition, rather than refresh the whole display, Polly will intermittently replace only some stems, leaving others to die back or dry out.

Photograph: Andy Hughes

The unstable nature of things can bring much joy – there is magic in the handmade. Rebecca’s pots bear traces of her manipulation of the material and refer to it in its soft state. Connections between people and materials across time and place are present in the objects, and the evolving nature of the flower displays in this exhibition reflects that. Perhaps the display will be become more dominated by dried or deteriorating flowers as time goes on, perhaps some areas will get fuller and others sparser, but this will depend on – and be influenced by – how the materials in the gallery and the gardens are behaving, much like the processes involved in gardening a garden or making a pot.

Rebecca’s pots invite the user to engage with the moment; the beauty of the objects are emphasised through their ability to reflect and absorb the changing atmosphere around them, porcelain enjoying a unique relationship with light especially. Their seemingly simple beauty can be brought to life through the introduction of plant material, however it is chosen or placed. An interaction is sparked between the two objects, facilitating the viewer to more easily observe and enjoy the simple beauty and subtle nuance in both.

Photograph: Andy Hughes

The interaction that the pots invite through use is one of ease and joy. Collections of small vases enable single stems to be chosen, placed and valued in and of themselves, but with associations between each other enabled, as with planting in a garden. Vases with indentations invite a looseness to placing the stems, an invitation to enjoy the informality of letting it be where it falls, and form the presence of a continued line where the stem meets the rim. Where flowers rest on the of edges pf vessels, there is further opportunity to enjoy the interaction between the porcelain and plant material. This continues as the plant material deteriorates. In the case of the works with the porcelain trays, the falling petals, pollen or seed are captured and become part of the display. These behaviours of the plant are not only beautiful to watch but remind us of the interconnection between plant and the earth; one cannot be without the other.

Photograph: Andy Hughes

Zen Buddhism encourages us to ‘see the flower in the earth and the earth in the flower’, as Virginia Woolf did in her revelation in the garden at Talland House, where she spent formative childhood summers in St Ives, and one of the gardens Polly tends. Another Buddhist saying: ‘no mud, no lotus’, describes the necessary inter-connectedness of earth and flower, reminding us of the role of imperfection and non judgement, things are as they are because of each other, although we may describe one thing as good and another bad.

“That is the whole… I was looking at a plant with a spread of leaves: and it seemed suddenly plain that the flower itself was part of the earth, that a ring enclosed what was the flower; and that was the real flower; part earth; part flower. “

Virginia Woolf, A Sketch of the Past, 1939

Polly Carter, 2019

Gallery installation images to follow