St Ives 1860-1930 - The Artists and the Community - A Social History




St Ives Social History
St Ives Social History

This unique social history of the St Ives art colony not only looks at the way of life enjoyed by the artistic community, but also assesses, for the first time, the impact of the artists on the town and the townsfolk.


In addition to well-known names, such as Adrian Stokes, Julius Olsson and William Titcomb, there were many other long-term resident artists, who enjoyed varying degrees of success in the art world, but who had much appreciated talents in other directions, as, for instance, photographers, comic artists, designers, architects, writers, musicians, actors or sportsmen. After considering the surprising diversity of their backgrounds, the book looks at the range of accomodation that the artists chose - from hotels, humble lodgings, rented homes of varying standards and sizes, in and out of town, to purpose-built architect-designed dream homes. It then looks extensively at the wide range of old buildings in the fishing quarter that were commandeered for studios - net lofts, music pavilions, mine engine houses etc, as well as the complexes on Porthmeor, many of which have now proved to be purpose-built by local entrepreneurs. The bulk of studios, however, were not designed for human habitation and, despite the majesty of their locations, gave rise to never-ending problems of leaking roofs, damp plaster and biting cold, not to mention rats.






One London correspondent was so enamoured of his stay in the colony that he was moved to exclaim "More genial, kindly, hospitable society does not exist". Simplicity of life, refinement and cultivated taste, love of outdoor nature, and freedom from convention were, in his view, its principal attractions and, unsurprisingly, writers and other practitioners of the Fine Arts soon settled in the locality. The St Ives Arts Club, which, from the outset, was open to such persons, and also to females, was the focal point of social activity and promoted a good communal spirit. However, aware that they should not be seen as an exclusive enclave, the artists put on many performances for the townspeople, introducing them to Carnival Masquerades, tableaux vivants, glee singing and variety entertainment. They also took leading roles in the establishment of local sports clubs. A separate chapter also recreates student life in the colony, as its Painting Schools gained world-wide renown.


The second half of the book looks at the way that the artists inter-related with the local community and the impact that they had on the town commercially, physically and culturally. It reveals how the artists dramatically transformed the tourist season, influenced the type of tourist that came to St Ives, and became tourist attractions in their own right. It also assesses the impact that the artists had on local business and the ways in which local entrepreneurs sought to satisy all the artists’ requirements. Whereas a number of leading figures in the town felt that the presence of the artists had "broadened the mental vision of the townsfolk" and many of the fisherfolk were happy to act as models, not all locals welcomed the ‘Bohemian’ ways of the artists, and the book discusses the problems that the artists had with various sections of the community, particularly the most fervent Methodists, who labelled them "paint-wasters"!


What is revealed is a multi-faceted story that has never been told before. No true assessment of the achievements of the colony can be made without understanding the extraordinary partnership that developed between locals and artists. Indeed, one Mayor was moved to comment, "A locality can have no better friend than an art colony".


Range of Characters featured in Social History


The book’s index contains seventeen columns, comprising merely the names of people featured! The following are just some of those who receive particular attention.


Artistic Community


Will Ashton, Arthur Burgess, Emily Carr, Hayley Lever and Hilda Fearon (student days), Will & Ka Arnold-Forster (‘Eagle’s Nest’, gardens, politics, first female J.P.), Alfred Bailey (Atlantic Studio), Georgina Bainbridge (women’s rights & community work), Eardley Blomefield (Pednolva Mine Studio), John Bromley (‘Quay House’), Howard Russell Butler (first Porthmeor Studio, letter archive), Sydney Carr (photographs, caricatures, homes and ‘Blue Bell Studio’), Nell Cuneo (‘Downalong Studio’, plays), Stewart and Jessica Darmady (drama), Allan Deacon (Virgin Street Studio, Arts Club & golf), John Douglas (photographs, comic recitations, ‘Skidden House’ & Porthmeor studio), Thomas Millie Dow (‘Talland House’ & studio), Lowell Dyer (homes, art, wit), William Eadie (‘Windy Parc’, portrait commissions), Edith Ellis (Carbis Bay homes & letting cottages, lesbian affairs, books), Havelock Ellis (controversial books on sex), Herbert Fitzherbert (‘Fitz’) (caricatures), Moulton Foweraker (Spanish art tours, St Ives Dramatic Society), Edmund Fuller (architectural designs, comic postcards, metalwork, graphic design, bookplates, cricket, homes and studio), Louis Grier (‘The Foc’sle’, Arts Club, studio tea parties, Library Loan Exhibition), Brian Hatton (art student), William Hebblethwaite (campaign against animal cruelty), Lewis Hind (art student, writings), Frances Hodgkins (Porthmeor Studio, sketching restrictions), Wilson Henry Irvine (1923 Journal), Henry Keasbey (Island Studios, Porthia Beagles), Lily Kirkpatrick (art, home & lesbian affair), Albert Lang (golf, ‘Tremorna’ & ‘Dunvegan’, Carbis Bay), Herbert Lanyon (music, photographs, community work, ‘Red House’ & ‘Attic Studios’), Count Georg Larisch (oceanographer from Bavarian Royal Family & suspected spy), Bernard Leach (Pottery & talks), Moffat Lindner (homes, incl. ‘Chy-an-Porth’, saviour of Porthmeor Studios, golf, cards & community work), Will Lloyd, (‘St Eia’, music), Charles Marriott (literary figures & reminiscences), Greville Matheson (library at ‘Boskerris Vean’, poems, plays & editorship of newspaper), Arthur Meade (‘Godrevy’, Porthmeor studio & golf), Fred Milner (‘Zareba’ & Piazza studios), Robert Morton Nance (Cornish heritage & guise dance drolls), Julius Olsson (‘St Eia’, Porthmeor and Harbour studios, painting school, J.P., golf & tennis), Alfred Pazolt (‘Foreshore Studio’, sailing, Catholic Church), Charles Procter (comic writer), Cyril Ranger-Gull (satire of colony), Henry Harewood Robinson (music, Arts Club, J.P.), Helene Schjerfbeck (Tower Studio), Murielle Schofield (the lot of an artist wife), Edgar Skinner (war allotments, Leach Pottery), Leslie Stephen (writer, ‘Talland House’ & family), Folliott Stokes (novel, guide books), William Titcomb (‘Windy Parc’, studios & politics), Frank Ver Beck (comic work), Hanna Rion Ver Beck (twilight sleep), Whitehouse sisters (art, letter archive & war work)


Local Community


Edward & Mrs Ashton (photographer, picnic grounds, guesthouse), Edward Boase (Town Clerk), Martin Cock (newspaper proprietor, artists’ materials, gallery etc), William Faull (Mayor, patron), Kathleen Frazier (musician), Reginald Glanville (property agent, patron), Rev. Edward Griffin (St Johns-in-the-Fields, patron), Mrs Griggs (Zennor guesthouse), Edward Hain (shipowner & patron), Capt T Row Harry (Mayor), Maria Hendra (hotel proprietor), Mary and Edith John (romance), Canon Jones, Rev. Francis Marsh, Bernard Walke, Joe Hellier (Parish Church), James Lanham (artists’ materials, gallery etc), Michael Nicholls & George Staff (doctors), James Read (Bank Manager), Robert S. Read (Mayor, shipowner & patron), William Paynter (purpose-built studios), George Toman (property agent), Robert Toy (developer), John H Tremayne (hotel with billiards), William Trewhella and his sons (Mayor, romance), William Trevorrow (photographer, music shop), Francis Wheeler (hotel owner, patron), James Uren White (newspaper proprietor) George Williams (purpose-built studios), Colonel Henry Williams (Mayor, patron)



ISBN 9780953836376


Paperback - 408 pages - 297mm x 210mm


38 colour and 415 b/w illustrations


Price £25.00