News & press

Feiler, Heath and Mellis in new St Ives exhibition

March 18, 2020

Paintings by Paul Feiler, Adrian Heath and Margaret Mellis are part of Cornwall as Crucible, a new exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham. The exhibition focuses on the relationships and networks between artists who lived in Cornwall from the 1930s to the 1960s, and who helped make it a hotbed of innovation and modernism during this time. The exhibition charts the arrival of Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood in St Ives in the late 1920s, and their discovery of the self-taught artist Alfred Wallis. Nicholson returned to live in St Ives following the outbreak of World War II, and settled there with his wife Barbara Hepworth and their triplets, initially staying for 6 months with Margaret Mellis and her first husband Adrian Stokes in Little Parc Owles - their house in St Ives, which they went on to share with Naum and Miriam Gabo. After visiting St Ives in 1949, Adrian Heath returned to London, and forged an important link between the St Ives School and like-minded London-based artists, often hosting meetings and informal exhibitions of their work in his studio. The post-war period saw a second wave of avant-garde artists living and working in St Ives, including Sandra Blow, Terry Frost, Paul Feiler and Alexander Mackenzie.

The exhibition draws on loans from the Barber's own collection, including a newly acquired sculpture by Gabo, as well as important loans from the Jerwood Collection, and also the University of Birmingham, which owns a major mural by Peter Lanyon,commissioned in the early 1960s. 

Cornwall as Crucible runs from 19 February to 20 May 2020.