Lament for a lost, semi-innocent world: Giles Auty remembers St Ives, half a century on from when he first painted there

I paid a first visit to St. google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; Ives in the late 1950s and will never forget google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; my first

glimpse of the town from the hill above the railway station. For someone to whom the
word ‘sea’ had hitherto largely meant the pebbly beaches and endless mudflats of the coast of East Kent, the turquoise
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water, dazzling white sands and rows of granite or whitewashed buildings cascading down steep hills

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towards the town’s harbour were an utter revelation. Not a single yard of dual carriageway existed at that time between London and Land’s End. The old A30 still ran through every town, village and hamlet on its route as it pursued
a

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narrow, twisting and dangerous 300-mile course.

At least part of the magic of West

Cornwall lay at the time in

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its relative isolation as well as in the extreme cheapness

more cynical, corrupt and purposeless by the day. To my mind, at least, one of the factors that underwrote the significance of that era was its relative proximity to the ending of the Second World War which, in spite

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of all its horrors, at least src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> provided some inkling
of a reality with which it was difficult to argue. Some of the older artists such as src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> Peter Lanyon had served in that
war with distinction while others had suffered years of captivity google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; e.g. Terry Frost, Adrian Heath and Roger Hilton, the last having been captured during the unsuccessful commando raid on Dieppe. Karl Weschke, by contrast, spent youthful years as a prisoner-of-war of the British. It was therefore not just artistic freedom that all were keen to enjoy after

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years of restraint but the liberty to live and act more or less normally again. Hedonism was

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certainly in the air and West Cornwall became, however briefly, a kind of Bohemia-by-Sea.

Ben Nicholson had recently left //--> St. Ives for good at the time of my arrival there but others such as Bryan Wynter, Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach and the excellent poet W.S. Graham were still very much in google_ad_height = 90; evidence, as were Alan Davie and William Scott for at least part of the time. I was merely one of a raft of younger artists which included Trevor Bell, Anthony Benjamin, Brian Wall, Bob Law, Jeff Harris and Roy Conn. Large numbers of purpose-built studios still existed google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; from earlier artistic eras and for a time

I was lucky enough to share a google_ad_width = 970; vast example, built originally for Stanhope Forbes, at the top of Newlyn Hill.

In the long google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; run I came to disagree increasingly with much of the

tenor of the art – and art criticism – that came out of West //--> Cornwall at that time because its doctrinaire emphasis on //--> abstraction seemed to me at once unnecessarily coercive and contrived in the face of the overwhelming majesty of the local landscape and coast.

My maternal great-grandfather, a railway engineer, originally left his home at East

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Looe in east Cornwall to build a railway in East Kent and I have never ceased, wherever I have lived in the world, to feel a kind of ancestral tug which continues to identify
Cornwall for me as a homeland. Rather unusually, for an artist, I represented the county at cricket and am still probably remembered there, if at all, more for my former

Bryan’s funeral, in fact, at the lovely little rural church at Zennor a small group of us travelled on to see Roger. I was seated at the end the latter’s bed still clad in the black overcoat I had worn to Bryan’s funeral when Roger