Archives for posts with tag: Art


I titled this exhibition ‘Home Museum’. I am not talking about a grand ‘art’, rather I am talking about something that has come from the rawness of hand and material, the survival of objects that went through extreme heat, and what that reveals about the making process and my everyday life. It is my 3D sketchbook.

This new collection is directly related to my recent booklist. I was a psychology student 20 odd years ago and I have been reading a lot about the human brain lately. ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge triggered my interest and led me to other related books in psychology, sociology, biology, neuroscience and religion, written from the view of brain function. Surprisingly there are many books in this area that can be understood without specialist knowledge, and can be easily related to our daily lives.

I went to see some Impressionist paintings recently, described in the exhibition guide as ‘unfinished’ in comparison to conventional descriptive paintings, and therefore not taken as ‘proper’ painting at the beginning of this art movement. In the world of craft, it was not the creators of art work, but connoisseurs who found beauty in the unpolished, peasant craft work of Japan. These pieces were called ‘gete-mino’ (the translation from Japanese to English is ‘grotesque’ or ‘badly made things’) and were supposedly second class artifacts. Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of the Mingei movement, rebranded it as Mingei folk art, since the phrase ‘gete-mino’ had negative connotations.

Symmetrical perfection, regularity and preciseness are easy to understand, as the standard perception of beauty is based on physical strength. On the other hand, I wonder how and why some people (like myself perhaps) are attracted to the unrefined quality of objects, including some forms of art. These brain books I read might explain how we come to find beauty in ‘unpolished’ work.  Physicality is one kind of strength, but on the other hand, as demonstrated in the high speed sketching of a skilled artist, flexibility, adaptation and plasticity are also strengths. The spontaneous movement of making or drawing projects our unconscious or subconscious mind, whereas the process of polishing and adding more precise detail can actually disguise or delete some quality hidden deep within our mind. Akiko Hirai, May 2016

Akiko Hirai | Home Museum is on show at New Craftsman from 28 May to 2 July. Paintings and prints by Lieke Ritman and screenprints of the work of Lucie Bray accompany the show.

Image: Dry Kohiki Mug, Grey

Share your images of the everyday things that make your place a 


ADAM BUICK Cornish Series_edited-1

Landscape has always been an abiding theme in the arts, in painting most obviously, but in today’s art world previously divergent ideas and disciplines now merge with increasing confidence in the making of new works.

This month artist Adam Buick, on show as part of our spring exhibition, brings ceramics and landscape together in a ‘Cornish Series’ of spellbindingly lovely pieces which demonstrate this disconcerting mix of subject and medium. Exploring ideas around the resource heritage of Cornwall’s rich landscape, his works incorporate minerals, rocks and clay from the Cornish countryside using ‘a single pure jar form as a canvas to map my observations’. Reflecting both visual and tactile ideas of ‘place’, Buick’s work is strongly embedded in the subjective study of landscape and for this exhibition each piece draws upon the geological drama of West Cornwall and St.Ives.

In his large scale Moonjars, sheer weight combines with endless spherical surface and dark inner depth to evoke the sure and boundless breadth of the Cornish landscape. They are reassuringly strong and peaceful, like the earth beneath our feet, like a moment alone and at one with the great outdoors. By contrast, his elegant miniature works, held roundly in the palm of your hand, evoke the light solidity of a beach pebble, the playful weight of a skimming stone, in colours and textures that speak of shifting, prettily patterned sand, of grit and ore and the clean cut of industry through solid rock. Each a self-contained experience of landscape on multiple levels, as a collection they tell the story of Cornwall at its very core.

Image: Adam Buick, Cornish Series miniatures

COLIN ORCHARD Jane's Studio_ _ for NC homepage

Of the many tools at an artist’s disposal, strength of composition must surely be the most important. Without first class composition, even the most skilfully painted canvas, or powerfully constructed sculpture will fail to reach its full potential, and interestingly, any artwork can be pared down to the bare minimum providing its composition remains flawless. (See Donald Judd and other leading minimalists for irrefutable evidence of this!)

This October our Colin Orchard exhibition, which celebrates the artist’s 80th birthday, is a masterclass in compositional punch. And that’s no surprise: Colin spent much of his career as a layout artist for The Times newspaper, and was later Art Director for Letraset International, so clarity of composition and slick, suspenseful use of space are in his creative DNA.

Colin will also tell you that he has a preference for square format works, since the purity of the square maximises compositional power. In his work, less is more – so much more – than you will see in the work of his contemporaries. Subject, which in this collection includes landscapes and scenes of women in studio interiors, is irrelevant to compositional considerations. Composition is an art form all of its own.

But what if your artwork area is not as large, your format not as flexible as the endless range of dimensions afforded by canvas? What if exquisite detail and fine craftsmanship need to be contained within the edges of a tiny box? Or in a piece small enough to pin to your lapel?

Alongside Colin’s work this month, you can see a towering talent for miniature composition in the beautiful work of jeweller and metalsmith Cornelius Jakob Van Dop. Each of Van Dop’s works is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, yet within every piece you will see a perfect balance of space and subject. Each of his works, either by way of detail or, in the case of his single entity brooches, by omission, tells a story of wild nature, moonlit nights and our countryside’s rich abundance of small creatures.

Bee and butterfly brooches rest lightly in perfect equilibrium, and boxes detailed with wide fields full of summer flowers and buzzing insects are as focused and composed as any painting.

Colin Orchard at 80, with Cornelius Jakob Van Dop is on show from 10th to 31st October.

Images – Top: Jane’s Studio, oil on board, Colin Orchard | Bottom: Moths and Crescent Moon, Cornelius Jakob Van Dop



Guest blog by exhibiting artist Hilary Mayo

A teenage boy with a beautiful, beaming face approached me. He had a board hung round his neck on which was a collection of earrings, none of them matching. Each was made from found objects, which he sold to scrape together a living on the streets of Vidigal, one of the many favelas (shanty towns) that clings to a steep hillside in Rio de Janeiro, where life is tough and the cycle of poverty is hard to break. The feather earring I bought is the inspiration behind several vessels in my exhibition at The New Craftsman Gallery.

I met this boy whilst volunteering at the Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro ( ) a charity that uses sport and art to change the lives of street children.

P1030794 LOWRES


This body of work comes from the heart. I returned from Rio very affected by my experience working with street children and I put this into my making. Each vessel tells a story and reflects the landscape of the favelas. I work from photographs and memory. The hand built abstracted forms began life as domestic vessels; pots, pans, jugs; symbolic of home; many show traces of broken handles. Fine rims and cracked glazes suggest fragility, and each is hand painted with many layers of slip, glaze, oxide and stain.


pink building

My interest in the plight of street children began in Durban, South Africa, in 2007 when visiting Umthombo, a local street child charity founded by inspirational couple, Tom Hewitt, MBE, and his wife Mandi, an ex street child with an extraordinary story who grew up on a rubbish dump in South Africa.  Tom’s current project is Surfers Not Street Children a charity that uses surfing to get children off the streets. You can read some of their stories at

See Hilary Mayo’s work at New Craftsman now and until 27th June.





Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day 2015, when thousands of events occur across the world to mark the social, political and economic achievements of women. This year’s theme is ‘Make It Happen’ and is aimed at encouraging action for advancing women’s opportunities. The idea is that different organisations celebrate within their own specific context, and as such we want to mention some of Cornwall’s leading women artists, whose work is celebrated as amongst the most influential in British art.

It hardly needs saying that when you think of St Ives, you think of Barbara Hepworth, one of the world’s most important Modernists artists. Her sculpture garden is a stone’s throw from NCs door, and you can see castings of her sculptures Dual Form outside the Guildhall and Epidauros II up at the spectacular viewing area of The Malakoff. The studio of pioneering abstract painter Sandra Blow is also right here in St Ives, and West Cornwall can lay claim to being the inspiration and the home of so many more great women artists including landscape painter Margo Mackelburg, printmaker Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, colourist Margaret Mellis (who mentored the young Damien Hirst), sculptor Barbara Tribe and Newlyn School painters Dod Procter and Dame Laura Knight.

Here at NC we are proud to show the work of St Ives Modernism’s leading women artists, and represent some of Cornwall and the UKs leading contemporary women painters, sculptors and craftspeople. Art-critical discourse rages on about the contribution of women artist, the ‘feminine’ in art and the ways in which history has written out the role of women artists in favour of their male counterparts, but whatever the debates, St Ives continues to cultivate a steady stream of powerfully important women artists. So – how can New Craftsman celebrate the artistic achievements of women? Watch this space for news of our 2016 exhibition of World Class Women artists past and present.

Image: Celebration at 90, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham


campsite washday lowres

As 2014 draws to a close here at New Craftsman and the New Year is upon us, we have fired up the Hotpod and are taking stock of a year of fantastic exhibitions. It’s been pretty peaceful along Fore Street in December, and now there is a rich purple light from the sweeping Atlantic sky that makes the sand of St Ives Bay glow and the rolling sea turn a vibrant aquamarine. In lots of ways it’s our favourite time of year, when West Cornwall is as dazzlingly colourful as it is in mid-summer, and the beaches and streets are empty and all our own.

This time of year also inspires many of our best New Craftsman artists: in the paintings of NC favourite Neil Davies you can see the awesome energy of winter in Cornwall, with its ominous clouds, blinding shafts of light and wind battered heath land. Painter Emma Jeffryes’ sellout 2014 show was inspired by last winter’s powerful storms, a series of breathtaking weather events that gave a thrilling new feel to her work.

In winter we wait, and watch and enjoy the ice cold beauty of this remote peninsula. Christmas lights sway back and forth above our heads along pretty, cobbled streets and reflect in the harbour at night. Smeaton’s Pier is swallowed by pounding walls of salt water and the higher parts of town take the force of a brutal north wind. To quote Neil Davies on the pleasures of living in Cornwall, ‘there is a sense of timelessness, and of nature being, as it should be, very much in charge.’

It is a time to enjoy the calm, because before long we’ll start looking forward to the warmth and the hustle and bustle that comes with spring and the happy energy of St Ives’ many visitors.

Keeping us company over the next few weeks is a beautiful exhibition of contemporary jewellery by Guy Royle, Breon O’Casey and Paul Preston, and a unique collection of one-off works by the Leach Pottery’s talented studio team. Most fitting for the season are Jenny Ayrton’s icey blocks of contemporary glass, with their precious scenes of homely domesticity, perfect for us as we cosy on down for New Year.

Image: Jenny Ayrton, Campsite Washday (wire and metal in molten glass)


lowres Workshop Fireplace 1946 PHOTO CREDIT LEACH ARCHIVE

Think craft. Think pottery. It’s a no brainer of course, but craft has come such a long way over the last hundred years. A quick glance at finger-on-the-pulse publications like Crafts Magazine demonstrates that the contemporary incarnation of craft now stretches to knitted clocks, automata, and elaborate polyamide vessels. And our culture is all the richer for it.

But always, throughout the pages of every cutting edge magazine and on show at the world’s leading craft shows, ceramics – and pottery in particular – exudes an integrity that other crafts can only dream of.

Here in St Ives we are lucky enough to have one of the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world. Over the last hundred years the Leach Pottery has forged the shape of studio pottery production in the UK and beyond, and today their newly restored studio, museum and gallery are continuing the development of Bernard Leach’s historic legacy, to the very great benefit of 21st Century British ceramics. The Leach Pottery has also played a key role in the history of our own gallery: New Craftsman was originally established by Janet Leach, wife of Bernard Leach, here at 24 Fore Street in 1962, and today these two historically important venues maintain a close working relationship. We are incredibly proud to remain the only St Ives centre stockists of the gorgeous new Leach Tableware, which continues to draw in the pottery faithful from across the world and is the catalyst for so many wonderful conversations with visitors to New Craftsman.

We are also proud to be the main contributor to the Leach Pottery’s recent campaign to bring their historic fireplace back into use, alongside everyone who has pledged funds to relight the Leach fire and put the heart back into the old pottery workshop. The fireplace, which appears in many old photographs, was where Bernard Leach would traditionally sit with his potters, students and apprentices each morning to share ‘crib’ and discuss the finer points of pottery making. As such, it is truly a place of historic importance to the development of 20th Century studio pottery. Who knows where future discussions around that same fireplace will lead us…..

The Leach Pottery fire will finally be relit as part of a celebratory gathering on Friday 24th October, and we will be there to show our support. Watch this space for news and photos from the event.

Image: Bernard Leach (second from left) at the Leach Pottery workshop fireplace 1946, photo courtesy of the Leach Archive


M CHAMBERS works at NC for blog

Shape. Space. Rhythm. These are the key factor in some of the world’s most beautiful objects: the Sydney Opera House; the Aztec Calendar Stone; the breathtakingly beautiful Francoise vase. The power of Op artist Bridget Riley’s work lies in her skilful ordering and distortion of simple shapes. Mondrian’s passion for the dynamic rhythm and disrupted beat of American jazz was the inspiration behind much of his work. Barbara Hepworth’s distinctive sculptures are a perfect balance of positive flowing form and negative central space.

These concepts, and these artists have motivated the work of Royal College of Art graduate Matthew Chambers, whose sculptural ceramics are currently on show here at the gallery. Matthew’s works are created out of a real love of the making process. Apart from astonishing onlookers with the complexity of their construction, they have a look and feel that is entirely unique in contemporary ceramics. Simplicity and complexity, solidity and fragmentation, interior and exterior space, rhythm and the pattern of construction are all explored in Matthew’s work.

Fanform 32cmH £2200

“How on earth does he make them?” is a question we are often asked, and truthfully we’ve absolutely no idea. Do we want to know how these unique pieces come to existence? Well – would you want to disseminate the mechanics of cloud-drift? Or watch Grace Kelly set her hair and rouge her cheeks? No neither would we. In cases like this, awe is everything and ignorance is most certainly bliss. We just prefer to absorb the elegance and artistry of Matthew’s work, and if you feel like joining us come on down to NC and experience something you have never seen before.


Weave 33cmH £2200Revolution Blue 46cm H £3000

Matthew Chambers trained at the Bath School of Art and later the Royal College of Art. He was awarded the Ceramic Review Prize at Ceramic Art London in 2006 and is a Professional Member of Contemporary Applied Arts, London and the CPA of Great Britain. He has shown regularly at New Craftsman St Ives since 2010 and is on show now, throughout the St Ives September Festival and until 12 October.

Matt Chambers at NC for blog

Image top: A few of the works now on show at New Craftsman

Image above: Ceramic artist Matthew Chambers at New Craftsman August 2014



Landscape Study 2012 - Green over Gold for WPress

Anyone with an eye on the 21st century crafts scene cannot fail to have noticed the rise and rise of contemporary glass. No longer considered merely the stuff of kitsch, glass has reinvented itself and is leading the way in design led craft, a phenomenon that can be traced back to the installation of Dale Chihuly’s awe inspiring V&A Chandelier in 1999.

Having recently exhibited the work of Peter Layton, the founder of Bermondsey’s London Glassblowing studio and one of the world’s most respected hot-glass artists, this summer we are proud to welcome glass making duo Stephen Gillies & Kate Jones, whose work is also included in the permanent collection of the V&A. Gillies’ considerable ability as a glassmaker is enhanced by the decorative work of his partner Jones, who trained originally as a painter and has adapted this skill to mark making on glass, and from 26 July to 31 August you can see their most recent collection of work right here at New Craftsman.

The history of glassmaking goes back to Mesopotamia in around 3500 BCE and throughout the centuries owning luxurious, artisan glassware has been a mark of status and privilege. Certainly every piece of Gillies Jones glass we’ve unwrapped and displayed for the opening of our summer exhibition has the feel of a rare and precious object and so, soaked in St Ives’ famous clear north light and enhanced by our current run of glorious summer sunshine, Gillies Jones glass will be lighting up the gallery alongside the work of Penwith landscape painter Neil Davies, potter Chris Keenan and artist Jane Reeves.

You can learn more about Stephen Gillies & Kate Jones in the following short film by clicking here

Landscape Study Lavander over Pink for WPress

Image top: Landscape Study – Green Over Gold, Gillies Jones

Image above: Landscape Study – Lavender Over Pink, Gillies Jones



This weekend we open our early summer show ‘A Celebration of the Work of Lucie Bray (1974 – 2014)’ and will be welcoming the great and the good of the St Ives arts community to see her beautiful paintings and read the words of all those who have contributed written pieces to the exhibition. We are also pretty excited to be showing new work by Japanese ceramicist Akiko Hirai, who has been so well received at each of her previous exhibition here.

Champagne and conversation will flow as we celebrate both Lucie’s unique talent and the warmly inclusive art community of St Ives, which nurtured and recognised the importance of her work. Among the many things that makes this town so special are its sense of history, its vibrant art scene and the wonderfully diverse group of artists, and art advocates, which populate it. It’s a thrill to be part of St Ives, and never more so than on those Private View nights when everyone turns out to see the latest show.

‘A Celebration of the Work of Lucie Bray (1974 – 2014) with an exhibition of work by Akiko Hirai’ will be on show until 28th June.

You can also read more about Lucie in the feature article An Artist Of Merit in the June edition of Cornwall Life magazine.

Lucie Bray New Painting 6

Image: Untitled work by Lucie Bray

For more information go to