Tate St Ives // St Ives

The Tate Gallery St Ives opened in June 1993 in a purpose-built building with five galleries offering an introduction to modern art, with special emphasis on the St Ives School

The Tate Gallery building, overlooking Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, provides great light and perspective for its various displays of paintings, sculptures and ceramics. There are five separate gallery spaces over three floors. Most of the changing exhibitions feature 20th century art from the St Ives School, offering a unique introduction to modern art. Other temporary exhibitions feature work by contemporary artists, many of whom live and work in this area.

St Ives has a long artistic tradition and, since the Tate Gallery opened, on the former gasworks site in 1993, many more galleries have sprung up around the town. Artists have been attracted to this are since the 19th century, drawn by both the quality of light here and the innate charm of the area. The spectacular site lies close to the home of Alfred Wallis and many other artists whose works are exhibited here. The intention of the design is to show the paintings and other works in the atmosphere in which they were originally created.

The Gallery backs directly into the cliff face, above the beach with entrances at two levels. The rooftop restaurant offers views over the town and harbour, over St Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse. One of the architects described the plan of the gallery as being reminiscent of a Ben Nicholson painting. Patrick Heron, a well-known local artist, was invited to design a glass window for the new building. This window is made of coloured antique glass sheets which have been laminated onto large panels of clear glass. It does not have any of the usual black leading used in stained glass windows. Consequently, the window is one of the largest unleaded stained glass windows in existence.

The gallery has various activities for children and activity packs are available, making this a good gallery to which to take the family. Interactive talks are provided to explain some of the art on display. Facilities include an education studio and gift shop. The Tate café and restaurant offers drinks and snacks throughout the day, in addition to the great views over the old town beaches.

There is disabled access to the gallery and a lift, suitable for wheelchairs, to all floors. Other facilities include a specially adapted toilet for the disabled and baby changing facilities. The Tate Gallery is open daily throughout the summer and from Tuesday to Sunday in the winter. It closes annually between 24 and 26 December.