Tate St Ives
9 October 2004 – 9 January 2005
Our exciting winter season celebrates colour, speed, form, landscape, sense of place, and art in relation to architectural forms as well as the work of Leach and his Circle in five dynamic new displays. Tate St Ives is said to be the home of British painting and there is much to enjoy in terms of colour and variety at a time of the year when we all need inspiration and energy.
Beyond Materiality: Paintings and Drawings 1967 - 2004
Trevor Bell (b.1930) is a painter whose work celebrates the act of painting. In the 1950s Bell was an important contributor to the second generation of the St Ives School of Modernism alongside his peers Terry Frost, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter. This exhibition will present his new installation of major paintings, Passage - Quiet Five, alongside his large-scale, dramatically shaped canvases of the 1960s and a large, intense colourfield work from the 1970s, Tall Seven, painted after his departure to Florida in 1973.
The display that focuses on his work of the 1960s, reveal strong, spare works, revealing his consistent concern with shape and colour, space and environment, both in and on the edge of the canvas. Bell made his first shaped canvas in 1962, and subsequent works such as Wight 1968, and the disparate silhouettes of Split Jet, 1970, challenged established notions of what constituted ‘a painting’, and led to a major exhibition in the Whitechapel in 1973.
Bell’s dynamic paintings gather the architectural space around them as an active element of the work, creating a sense of tension between the canvas, the floor and wall. The canvas’s rounded and painted edges cast shadows onto walls, a halo of reflected coloured light. The viewer’s eye, with no fixed point of focus, shifts endlessly over the surface travelling visually and spatially, encouraging a relationship that is physical as well as aesthetic.
Although his work does not contain obvious landscape references, the drama of the Cornish landscape is expressed through his control of colour and scale, evoking a strong sense of speed, energy, space and atmosphere. The distilled form, essence and spirit of place.
Trevor Bell was born in Leeds in 1930 and studied at the College of Art there. In his twenties, working in West Cornwall, he made his reputation as a leading member of the younger generation of St Ives artists. In the early 1970s he became Professor for Master (Graduate) Painting at the Florida State University, staying there for over 20 years. Bell returned to Cornwall in the 1990s from the United States.
Jem Southam (b.1950) is one of the key landscape artists who use a camera of the last twenty years. Using a 10 x 8in plate camera, his images reveal his ongoing fascination with the landscape of the South West of England. His work plays with the idea of the ‘spell’ cast by the act of observation, and celebrates the photographic image. The landscape created through the excavation of English China clay by Imerys in St Austell, has a dark, mysterious and surreal beauty. Southam has been commissioned by Tate St Ives to create a new series of large scale photographic images of this unique Cornish landscape.
Toby Paterson (b.1974) works in a number of forms, from large-scale wall paintings and assemblages to smaller paintings on perspex. His work is informed by post-war architecture, the St Ives School of Modernists, in particular Victor Passmore and Ben Nicholson, and the practical approach of the Constructivists. He is as well often inspired by his own skateboarding journeys and the structures used by skateboarders. He plays with the ideas of the integration of art and architecture, incorporating the painterly, the structural, the material, the minimal and the brutal. Responding to works in the Tate Collection, Paterson will create a major site specific work in the curved space surrounding the double staircase on the fourth floor. The Apse will show further framed prints and work by Victor Passmore.
Bernard Leach and his Circle
Leach travelled to St Ives from Japan with fellow potter Hamada in 1920 to set up the Leach Pottery, which became one of the most celebrated potteries in Britain. This display highlights a selection of works by key figures in the story of the Leach Pottery. Curated by Emmanuel Cooper, the ceramics have been selected from the collections of George and Cornelia Wingfield-Digby and includes loans form Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery and Truro Museum.