This film is part of Free

Freedom of St Ives for Leach and Hepworth

Artists are honoured as valued members of the St Ives Art Colony.

News 1968 6 mins

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Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Artists Bernard Leach OBE and Dame Barbara Hepworth are given the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of St Ives. In 1920 Leach set up the now world renowned Leach Potteries with fellow potter Hamado Shoji after being invited back to England by Frances Horne who had founded the St Ives Handcraft Guild. Abstract sculptor Hepworth was instrumental in forming the Penwith Society of Arts in 1949 to advance abstract and modern art by introducing innovation and experimentation.

St Ives has been the home to artists since the Romanticist painter JMW Turner visited and sketched the Cornish seaside town in 1811. The art colony developed between the First and Second World Wars with the idea of revisiting and revising classical artworks in the light of a technical and cultural shift. St Ives was at the forefront of the Modernist art movement and the Penwith Society of Arts formed breaking away from the St Ives Society of Artists but still allied with Peter Lanyon’s Crypt Group. It included prominent abstract artists including Hepworth’s husband Ben Nicholson. Art historian and critic and co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Herbert Read became its first president.