A destination steeped in the art and culture of West Cornwall, over the years St Ives has lured a colony of artists to commit the area’s beauty and beguiling light to canvas. Step outside your holiday home and discover a wealth of art galleries and cultural events, from the Tate St Ives and Hepworth Sculpture Garden to the lively celebrations of the St Ives September Festival. Step beyond town into the dramatic scenery of Cornwall’s wild western toe and take a peek into more remote art studios, try your hand at pottery or catch a play at the Minack Theatre that’s carved into the cliffs at Porthcurno.
Whether you’re a culture vulture or have never stepped foot in a gallery, St Ives boasts something special for everyone to clap their eyes on. Stand in the entrance of the Tate St Ives and listen to the echo of the waves, get swept away by the contemporary exhibitions or simply take a trip to the top-floor café and feast on the stunning coastal views. On a sunny day one of the most magical places to be in St Ives is Hepworth’s Sculpture Garden, where monumental stone and bronze sculptures rise from subtropical foliage.
Being within a pebble’s throw of Cornwall’s south coast and West Penwith, from St Ives it’s easy to reach a littering of art hotspots across Penzance, Newlyn, Lamorna and St Just. Get your hands on an Art Pass and it couldn’t be easier to enjoy six of the finest art gems at your leisure. This unique ticket gives you unlimited access to the Tate St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Leach Pottery, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange.
While the works of Bernard Leach, Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis and Peter Lanyon are some of those most famously associated with the art and culture of West Cornwall, the allure of the area also lies in the dozens of lesser-known galleries and artists’ studios squirreled away down cobbled streets and in remote villages by the sea. The Round House and Capstan Gallery at Sennen is a treasure trove of local art, while the Back Road Trail leads you to some of the smaller art and craft galleries off the beaten track.
Fast chasing the fame of St Ives’ art heritage is a rich cultural scene, punctuated by a calendar of annual festivals and internationally-acclaimed theatre performances. Whether you prefer a Roald Dahl stage adaptation or a classic Shakespeare production, there are few places more atmospheric than the cliff-top amphitheatre of The Minack Theatre to watch a play. You might even witness unscripted dolphins in the ocean backdrop. Also renowned for family theatre is the St Ives Kids R Us Theatre company, which hosts a number of shows throughout the year.