Ian Massey

Queer St Ives and Other Stories
Paperback 255 pages
Publisher: Ridinghouse
ISBN: 978-1-909932-69-2
Dimensions: 22.5 x 15.2cm

This first ever queer history of St Ives weaves together biography with art and social history to shine new light on a pivotal era in the development of British modernism. At its centre is the sculptor John Milne (1931–1978), who arrived in the town in 1952 to work as an assistant to Barbara Hepworth.


Hidden behind 20-foot-high granite walls, Milne’s house, Trewyn, became a meeting point for queer figures from the arts as well as the scene of legendary parties. The large cast – both queer and otherwise – featured in Queer St Ives and Other Stories includes artists Francis Bacon, Alan Lowndes, Marlow Moss, Patrick Procktor, Mark Tobey, Keith Vaughan and Brian Wall; Whitechapel Art Gallery director Bryan Robertson; actors Keith Barron and Richard Wattis; potter Janet Leach; and writers Tony Warren and Richard Blake Brown. There is also the extraordinary Julian Nixon, a queer Everyman whose involvement in the group has been little explored until now.


Based on original interviews and previously unpublished letters and diaries, Queer St Ives and Other Stories reveals a fascinating, previously undocumented history, adding vital new insights into the history of this fabled Cornish art colony. Publication supported by the Paul Mellon Centre.



Dr Ian Massey is an independent art historian, writer and curator based in the UK. Massey is author of the monograph biography Patrick Procktor: Art and Life (Unicorn Press, 2010), and co-author with Anthony Hepworth of Keith Vaughan: The Mature Oils (Sansom & Company, 2012). Both publications were authorised by the artists’ estates and have been widely acclaimed, garnering international media coverage. Ian was awarded a PhD in 2013: his doctoral thesis is on the themes of art, biography and sexuality, with specific reference to his research on Procktor and Vaughan. His 2018 monograph on the abstract painter John Blackburn was published by Sansom & Co. Ian has written for The Art Newspaper, The Burlington Magazine, Elephant (online), Luncheon, PN Review, Printmaking Today, Sight and Sound, The World of Interiors, thisistomorrow (online), Varoom, and Visual Culture in Britain. Massey has also curated exhibitions for Arts University Bournemouth; Bankley Gallery, Manchester; The Briggait Project Space, Glasgow; Huddersfield Art Gallery, and The Redfern Gallery, London.

Ian Massey: Queer St Ives and Other Stories
£ 30.00