It will finally give Cornwall’s most popular gallery enough space to accommodate the quarter of a million visitors it welcomes each year – over three times the number for which it was originally designed – who bring £11 million annually to the local economy.
The new design will allow it to stay open all-year-round for the first time inbetween exhibitions changes.
For the first time, Tate St Ives will be able to give a permanent presence to those iconic 20th century artists who lived and worked in the town, demonstrating the role of St Ives in the story of modern art. This will be combined with a new programme of large-scale seasonal shows, beginning with British sculptor Rebecca Warren’s first major UK exhibition and continuing next summer with a retrospective of celebrated painter Patrick Heron.
The new gallery, sunk into the cliff alongside the original building, will offer artists and curators a column-free space lit by six huge skylights. The new design will allow Tate St Ives to stay open all year round for the first time, without the need to close each time the exhibitions change.
With a public garden on its roof, connected to the cliff above and the beach below, the new building will also add a collection care studio, loading bay, staff offices and visitor facilities. Clad in handmade ceramic tiles with a blue-green glaze, the building is designed to reflect the changing colours of the sky and sea.
Exciting new spaces for learning activities and events have also been created to meet growing demand. Evans and Shalev, the architects of the original Tate St Ives building, have returned to add a new space for hands-on workshops and family activities, a ground-floor studio for visitors to explore archival and digital material about the art on display, and a spectacular glazed studio on the roof terrace with views out over the sea. The existing galleries have also been fully refurbished and are being integrated into these additions.
The original building will now be dedicated to a display exploring modern art in St Ives and its relationship with the wider world. It will offer a chronological overview of 20th century art from the perspective of St Ives, including British and international artists from Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Barbara Hepworth to Piet Mondrian, Naum Gabo and Paule Vezelay. The new galleries for seasonal exhibitions will open with a major survey of Rebecca Warren, renowned for her exuberant, roughly-worked clay sculptures. In 2018, these spaces will be used for an exhibition of women artists inspired by Virginia Woolf, a retrospective of Patrick Heron’s vibrant paintings, and a specially commissioned project by contemporary artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer.