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Tate St Ives

tate st ives gallery

Admire Inspiring Artworks at St Ives Tate Gallery

Hugging cliffsides above St Ives’ organically cobbled streets and sweeping golden bays sits the town’s Tate St Ives Gallery, displaying canvasses by pioneering modern artists synonymous with this enchanting seaside haven like Barbara Hepworth and obscure St Ives School painters. Alongside marvelling over masterpieces, free daily workshops help kids creatively connect with exhibits from sculpting beach debris to sketching coastal colours.

With interactive trails, ever-changing exhibits and drop-in classes unleashing young imaginations against Atlantic vistas through immense glass windows, Tate St Ives delivers artistic adventures promising inspiring family days out amidst Cornwall’s cultural legacy carved where lush peninsular woodlands meet aquamarine seas.

Here’s how to craft creative experiences uncovering Tate St Ives museum’s treasured contents and activities during a painting-filled Cornish break by the beach.

tate st ives

Getting There

Tate St Ives dominates the hillside overlooking Porthmeor Beach, signed 2 minutes from the town centre. Well signed pay-and-display car parks serve St Ives although the Tate is easily reached on foot from the train station and nearby accommodation.

By public transport, direct trains connect St Ives with Cornwall’s main line. Local buses also link surrounding coastal villages like Zennor and St Just enabling car-free family access.

Opening Times and Prices

Open 7 days a week all year except Christmas/New Year:

March–October, 10am-5pm

November–February, 10am-4pm

Entry costs:

  • Adult £10.50
  • Child aged 12-18 £6

There are many different exhibitions and events on and different deals are available online too, so it is worthwhile checking their website for up to date information.

tate st ives gallery

The Galleries

Tate St Ives displays over 400 modern masterpieces spanning 1850-present day inside four neatly converted former pilchard-press buildings:

See the UK’s best collection from innovative St Ives School painters like Terry Frost’s abstract textures alongside Barbara Hepworth sculptures carved locally using favourite Cornish serpentine stone.

Don’t miss renowned works like Roger Hilton’s powerful 1950s post-war canvasses or emerging names like Petroc Sesti capturing local subjects from St Ives’ flower sellers to Cornish wrestling.

Free guided tours run regularly explaining artistic genres – ideal for older kids studying art topics seeking inspiration from greats.

There are constantly changing exhibitions, so you need to check the Whats On section of the website when planning your own trip if you are keen on a particular artist.

inside tate st ives

Family Workshops and Trails

The light-filled learning studio delivers free creative sessions for kids from jewellery making inspired by decorative works through to outdoor landscape painting capturing characteristic coastal scenes:

  • Sculpt sandcastles interpreting mind sculptures by celebrated local artist Peter Lanyon.
  • Follow the tactile touch trail guessing textures and materials behind framed still life studies.
  • Borrow activity backpacks and have fun finding named paintings around Tate’s bright white interiors.
tate gallery st ives

St Ives School of Artists History

The St Ives School of Artists, emerging in the mid-20th century, brought together a cadre of creative minds, each contributing to a unique tapestry of artistic expression. Today, many of their masterpieces find a home at Tate St Ives, a gallery perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

At the forefront of the St Ives School stands Sir Alfred Wallis, a self-taught artist whose primitive yet evocative seascapes are a testament to his deep connection with the maritime world. Wallis, a former mariner, brought an authentic, unfiltered perspective to his art. His works, often painted on salvaged materials such as ship’s boards and cardboard, transport viewers to the heart of the tumultuous sea. “Five Ships, Mount’s Bay,” a hallmark piece, captures the essence of Wallis’s raw talent, depicting vessels in a stormy sea with a simplicity that belies the complexity of the emotions conveyed.

Dame Barbara Hepworth, a sculptor of international acclaim, was another luminary of the St Ives art scene. Hepworth’s sculptures, predominantly in stone or wood, exude an elemental elegance that transcends time. Tate St Ives showcases her iconic piece, “The Family of Man,” a monumental work that encapsulates the interplay between human forms and the environment. Hepworth’s art, rooted in a fascination with organic shapes, invites contemplation and interaction, drawing visitors into a dialogue with the natural world.

The canvases of Peter Lanyon, a pioneer of abstract expressionism within the St Ives School, are a celebration of the Cornish landscape. Lanyon’s aerial perspectives, as seen in “Thermal,” offer a bird’s-eye view of the undulating terrain, blurring the lines between abstraction and representation. His use of color and texture creates a sense of movement, immersing viewers in the dynamic energy of the landscape itself.

The lyrical abstraction of Patrick Heron further enriches the St Ives legacy. Heron, a master of color, infused his canvases with a vibrancy that mirrored the vivid hues of the Cornish coast. “Azalea Garden,” a kaleidoscopic masterpiece, exemplifies his ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, capturing the essence of flora in a riot of color and form.

As one explores the galleries of Tate St Ives, the name Ben Nicholson emerges as a central figure in the St Ives School. Nicholson’s geometric abstractions, influenced by Constructivism and De Stijl, convey a sense of order and balance. His “White Relief” series, featuring intricate compositions in white, exemplifies the artist’s commitment to the purity of form.

The gallery not only showcases the works of Wallis, Hepworth, Lanyon, Heron, and Nicholson but also provides a panoramic view of the landscape that inspired these visionaries. Visitors can witness the convergence of art and nature, understanding the profound influence of the Cornish surroundings on the St Ives School.

Cafe at Tate St Ives

A blend of modern design and coastal charm, the café provides a serene retreat for visitors to savor both art and cuisine. The menu mirrors the diversity of the St Ives School, with locally sourced ingredients capturing the essence of Cornwall’s culinary heritage.

Whether indulging in a leisurely lunch or enjoying a cup of artisanal coffee, patrons are enveloped in an ambiance that seamlessly fuses art appreciation with gastronomic pleasure. The café at Tate St Ives isn’t merely a culinary stop; it’s a curated experience that enhances the overall journey through the rich tapestry of creativity on display in this coastal artistic haven.

tate cafe

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed? – Only assistance dogs are allowed in Tate St Ives

Is it wheelchair accessible? – Yes, the gallery accomodates wheelchair users comfortably.

Nearby Attractions

  • Cornish Seal Sanctuary – Just 15 minutes up the coast, this marine wildlife sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates injured seals while also hosting penguins, sea birds, otters and other animals. An inspiring attraction.
  • St Ives Harbour – Picturesque old harbour home to the town’s fishing fleet. Watch the boats come and go against the scenic backdrop while sampling some of the freshest seafood.
  • Leach Pottery – See potters at work and browse ceramics direct from the workshop where legendary potters Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada first collaborated and taught apprentices.
  • St Michael’s Mount – Across the sweeping Mount’s Bay lies this iconic island village and castle accessed by a tidal causeway or ferry. Wander the cobbled streets and tour the castle.
  • Land’s End – On Cornwall’s western tip, this famed stretch of coast has distinctive landmark signs marking the end of England, spectacular trails, and rugged coastal scenery dotted with abandoned mine buildings.
  • Cape Cornwall – Walk to the old mine chimney atop this cape to enjoy stunning views over neighboring islands, rocky cliffs, and the Atlantic Ocean.

With inspiring vistas fuelling creativities of pioneering artists since Victorian times whose works fill whitewashed coastal galleries just footsteps from the sea, St Ives’ Tate stimulates young minds through interactive workshops perfectly complementing cultural masterpieces exhibited inside.

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