‘An Axis of Abstraction’: Art in Cornwall and Yorkshire – Then and Now

Date/Time: 23 March 2024 - 23 March 2025

Price: Free

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Since the second half of the 20th century, there has been something of a cross-fertilisation between the respective art practices of West Cornwall and West Yorkshire. Cornwall, and in particular the harbour town of St Ives and its surroundings, has attracted artists since the late 19th century. In the early decades of the 20th century modern artists began to congregate in the area, while the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 saw the artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson seek sanctuary in nearby Carbis Bay.

The gathering of artists in and around St Ives during the wartime period made it a magnet for a younger generation of artists after the war ended. At the same time, the establishment of the Gregory Fellowships in painting, sculpture, music and poetry at the University of Leeds in 1950 offered new opportunities for artists to work in Yorkshire for a period.

One of the major hubs of artistic activity in and around St Ives has always been the Porthmeor Studios. The opening of Tate St Ives in 1993 provided the impetus for new projects and residencies at the studios. From 1998 to 2000 the sculptor Veronica Ryan was artist-in-residence at Tate St Ives, working in Hepworth’s former Palais de Danse studio. In October 2019 the artist Ro Robertson relocated to Newlyn from West Yorkshire and was a short-let studio holder at Porthmeor Studios from January to June 2020. Robertson is now a permanent studio holder at Porthmeor Studios. Ryan, Robertson and the Yorkshire-based Emii Alrai are part of a generation of artists working today for whom Hepworth’s work has acted as an important critical touchstone. Recent acquisitions by these artists are presented in dialogue with sculptures, paintings and ceramics by Hepworth and other artists living and working in Yorkshire and/or Cornwall from the 1920s to the 1970s.

 

Image: Ro Robertson, Torso III, 2022. Leeds Museums and Galleries (Leeds Art Gallery). Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through a special partnership with the Henry Moore Foundation, supported by Cathy Wills, 2022/23 © Ro Robertson. Courtesy the artist and Maximillian William, London. Photo credit: Robert Glowacki

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