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New, New Tate St Ives, so good they built it twice.

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

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  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.

  4. Virginia Wolf a Milestone for those who read,

  5. Olivia Hammond

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

    • Edern Hathaway

      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.


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