If you missed the documentary on BBC4 the other night entitled ‘The Art of Cornwall’, fret not – you can still catch it on iPlayer here for another four days.
It is well worth watching, energetically narrating the remarkable story of how St Ives came to be one of the Britain’s most important art colonies, and generously seasoned with anecdotes and background about the lives of the main players (Ben Nicholson, Babs Hepworth, Wallis, Frost, Heron…).
Even if I did find the commentary by Dr James Fox a little over-dramatised and breathless at points, his levels of enthusiasm and depth of knowledge won me over (and helped me overlook the wearing of a suit on windswept Cornish cliffs in the opening frame and the glossy sports car ;-)). Apart from anything else, there is some truly inspiring footage of West Penwith. Take a look.
Here’s the Beeb outline:
“For a period in the 20th century, Cornwall was the home of the avant garde, eclipsing London, Paris and New York, as a group of super-talented individuals sought refuge and inspiration in the West Country.
From painter Kit Wood, who brought the surrealist influences of Twenties Paris, to Barbara Hepworth’s Modernist sculptures, James traces Cornwall’s evolution to the hub of a new international art movement, and explores its sudden fall after the mid-Sixties.
The Art Of Cornwall also covers the work of artists Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and sculptor Naum Gabo.”