A Winter Excursion to St Ives

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It was a combination of the joyless, greyness of the Christmas just gone, a need to re-charge batteries and the Sanderson St Ives fabric in my kitchen that inspired our last minute family trip to St Ives the week after new year. 

Sanderson St Ives fabric

Sanderson St Ives fabric

St Ives is an old coastal fishing town in the south west tip of Cornwall which has drawn artists since the beginning of 19th Century due to its ever changing light and dramatic coastlines. The art scene reached a pinnacle in the 1940s and 1950s when well known figures including Dame Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Sir Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Bernard Leach chose to set up their studios there.

Today there is still a lively art scene with artisan studios, art clubs and art schools scattered around the town. It is also home to The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Leach Pottery, Tate St Ives and numerous other galleries from which to peruse and buy.

Foreign travel looking unlikely and in desperate need for fresh air and a change of scene, I craved to see the light of St Ives and walk the dramatic coastlines that has inspired artists for so long. With its combination of fabulous beaches, artist studios, culture and great eateries all within walking distance, it felt like the perfect place to go mid-winter to re-charge the batteries.

My husband and I plus our three small boys took a morning train from Paddington to St Erth and changed onto a small train that chugged along picturesque coastline to St Ives. With our wheelie suitcases in hand, we walked a short distance to our airbnb - a small but perfectly formed blue cottage with views across the pointed roof tops of St Ives to St Nicholas chapel, the beaches, the Celtic sea and the pink, silver and gold skies.

airbnb, St Ives

 Little blue airbnb

View of St Ives
View from airbnb across St Ives to St Nicholas Chapel

With the boys in mind, we were careful to get the combination of food, exercise and culture right.  Rugby and football on the beaches and walks along the cliff tops to Zennor in one direction and Carbis Bay in the other were popular activities, looking out for seals popping their heads above the water along the way.

These excursions combined with intervals of hot chocolates in the local cafes, cheesy chips on Porthgwidden beach and fish and chips in St Ives Harbour allowed us to expose the boys to a palatable amount of culture.  The Leach Pottery, The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden , Petrit Halijaj's installation and Sammy Lee's Aviary Winter Light Commission at Tate St Ives were just some of the highlights.

Pottery, Leach Pottery

Pottery for sale at The Leach Pottery

Petrit Halijaj's installation, Tate St Ives

Petrit Hallijaj's installation, Tate St Ives

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Conservatory, Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

Exploring back and forth the small, winding cobbled streets of St Ives, we were equally delighted to stumble across some fabulous small galleries and artisan studios. Many of them were closed for January but that didn't stop us peaking through the windows to admire the work.

Fish Pye Pottery

Fish Pye Pottery

Home now after five glorious days, we have stories to tell and souvenirs from St Ives to treasure - pieces of handcrafted pottery that we purchased, carefully wrapped in brown paper, packed in our suitcases and brought home. Utilised around the home, they remind us of our trip to St Ives and instil in us a longing to return.

mug, fish pye pottery

Green and white striped mug by Fish Pye Pottery

bowl by David Griffin

Bowl by David Griffin

vase by Lincoln Kirby Bell

 Vase by Lincoln Kirby-Bell






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