I have seen the New Tate St Ives in all its glory. And I do really mean glory. From the moment I went through the main door I felt a completely different atmosphere in the gallery. It seemed much more open and warm, colourful and inclusive and, happily, it appears not to have dumbed down – which has often been the fate of so many re-vamped institutions. The Tate St Ives had to tunnel through one of the hardest stones on the planet, Blue Alvin, to create this new gallery space and the sense of welcome and friendliness I received certainly proves that they have got rid of the hard core!

It is a long climb up to the new galleries but one should suffer for one’s art and this climb is so very well worth it. The Modern Art and St Ives section is an utter joy. We have been waiting years for this sort of tribute and celebration of many local artists’ work and now we have something that is damn near perfect.

There is so much wonderful work here by so many fabulous painters and sculptors that it would be insidious to pick out favourites, so here goes. Kenneth Armitage’s sculpture – People in the wind; Graham Sutherland – Miner probing a drill hole; John A Park – Snow Falls on Exmoor and my own personal ‘I want to take this one home’ is Henry Moore’s tiny sculpture Helmet head and shoulders.

On the other hand, the VAST New, New Gallery space is going to be an interesting challenge. It is, at the moment, simply an available and virtually empty space and we wait with slowly misting exhalations to see what develops within and how it can be adapted to suit many different types of exhibitions in the future.

The present exhibition shivering inside this vast whiteness is All that Heaven Allows, by Rebecca Warren. I really thought we had got past the ‘is that an art work or an unfinished plinth’, and as far as emaciated figures go, Giacometti really did do it better, best and superlative.


Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 p 35

27 thoughts on “New, New Tate St Ives, so good they built it twice.

  1. They’ve done better this time with the New Gallery at the Tate in St Ives; the Virginia Woolf exhibition of works inspired by her writings makes this large rectangular room feel less cold and less unappealing. They’ve also put up two walls to divide the room, something else that helps. However, when I visiited the Tate on a cold and blustery winter day, the wind continued to blow wildly all throughout the museum. Is it a sign of change to come?

  2. Sara,

    I’ve just seen the new Virginia Woolf exhibition. As a structuralist I couldn’t agree with you more; the New Gallery is much better this way. I’m not so sure though about the disjointed effect of the artworks.


  3. @SaraThomas: maybe it is a sign of ongoing change throughout art and the museum! I found the Virginia Woolf exhibition was a real change in the way of conceiving a museum. Not only as a space for collecting artwork, but also as a space for thinking, about life and issues that inspired and influenced an artist.

    1. That says a lot, considering that in the US the “total percentage of college students who will never read another book after they graduate” is 42%!

      August 4, 2017 from the Statistic Brain Research Institute

  4. The next building extension of the Tate St Ives will be a wharf-side/surf-side addition. Looking forward to it!

    1. Hi Olivia,

      Do you know something more about this wharf-side/surf-side addition to the Tate that in St Ives isn’t being discussed yet? it certainly would be a spectacular exhibition space, though I’m sure it will involve coastal engineers and the Environment Agency.


      1. Any updates on the Tate St Ives building extension into the sea? I wonder if it will be built on stilts like Prince Albert II of Monaco’s sea extension plan.

        1. Looking forward to that answer you promised here above, so what are they planning?

    2. Are we perhaps looking at a construction like Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco? It would certainly give ample space to the needs of the Tate St Ives.

    3. Hi Olivia,
      I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Tate’s project for their extension into the sea of this very exciting wharf-side/surf-side addition in St Ives? Who is the architect? When is it planned to be completed?
      Thank you,

    4. Hi Olivia,
      Could you tell me what’s going on down there in St Ives? What’s all this about another extension of the Tate, but this time in the sea?

    5. Hi Olivia,
      We keep checking the news to find out something more about this new and exciting extension into the sea of the Tate St Ives. Where can we read about it or watch a video on it? Do you know any more? Thanks!

    6. Olivia’s proposed wharf side sea extension of the Tate St Ives sounds as stupid and absurd as the Secret Boris bridge plan to connect Land’s End to the Scilly Islands, supposedly to be the longest sea bridge in the world, spanning 28 miles. Neither proposal makes any sense. Why connect islands to the mainland that have been fortunately cut off from the rest of the modern world, all in the name of advancement and progress? At what cost?


    7. Hi Olivia,
      Is this another “artwallop” or is the proposed wharf-side sea extension of the Tate St Ives really going to take place?

  5. Can such a small city possibly support a wharf or construction in the sea for an extension of the Tate St Ives? What about the beach, the surfers, the swimmers? Is art more important?

    1. Anonymous,
      Art is about passion, while sport, well sport is sport, here today, gone tomorrow.

      “We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” (from Henry James, The Middle Years)

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