The beautiful town of St Ives on the western coast of Cornwall in England with it’s amazing sea landscapes, creates a unique atmosphere for artists. Walking along the narrow streets with their multi-colored stone cottages all nestled together in a labyrinth of avenues; you come across a lot of small art galleries. Artists from far and wide come here to paint the breathtaking coastal scenery and they always want to come back again and again. The history of the artist in this town started very recently.
The town was well known since the 5th century when Irish princess Ia arrived on the coast of the Celtic sea and founded Christianity in this area. In 1549 St Ives was connected with events of the Prayer Book Rebellion. Cornish people were against church reforms which were carried out by the King of England. The English parliament during the Reformation adopted a new law and all church services had to be held in English. Cornish people spoke their native language which was similar to Latin and easier for reading prayers. These events which coincided with the latest trends and other economic sanctions against farmers caused mass discontent among the indigenous population which expanded into serious mutinies. Royal armies suppressed the revolt and cruelly finished off all the rebels. These events radically affected the demise of the Cornish language; the Prayer book was now only written in the English language and the Bible was never translated into the Cornish language.
One famous Cornish rebel was executed in St Ives. When the English Provost Marshal arrived in the town in 1549 and stayed at “The Sloop Inn” pub (the oldest known pub in Cornwall since 1312). He invited John Payne, the administrator of the town (named the Portreeve in those days) to lunch, he then asked John Payne the Portreve to erect a gallows in the town. After lunch the Provost Marshal ordered John, the Portreeve to mount the gallows where he was promptly hanged as a “busy rebel”.
This story of the towns chronicle is recorded as one of the negative pages of English violence and some English priests today, consider that events like these were the biggest mistake of the English government of the time. On a wall of St Ia Church, a memorial plaque reminds us of this event.
The town has had long history, in the Middle Ages it was the most important fishing port on the northern coast of Cornwall. St Ives remained isolated until 1877, just before the railway was established; it then became the popular holiday place it is today. During the last two years St Ives was voted best British sea resort. Because of a warm Gulfstream lapping its shores you get the softest winters and the warmest summers in England. Four of the beaches have crystal-clear transparent water and white sand and the cozy bays are surrounded by green palm trees and a rocky coast. Lots of antiquary from ancient times can be found in the narrow streets and lanes of this beautiful town.
The art biography of St Ives began in 1928 when a group of artists arrived in town. Having admired the Cornish beauty, they lodged there and founded the Art society. In 1993 the Tate St Ives was opened and was instantly declared “the most inspired art collection of the twentieth century”. The Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Museum is another unique center of art. The BBC4 television channel accepted St Ives, to be as famous as Paris and New York, and more progressive than London.
A lot of ceremonial events are staged during the year in the town. One of the most unusual is the ancient ritual, “ The day of St. James” which is carried-out once every five years on July the 25th in memory of John Knills, who was the mayor of the town in 1797. Next to the historic John Knills Monument erected on a mountain nearby in the old days an ancient ritual dance is performed by girls who must be daughters of fishermen and dressed all in white.
Some time ago while I was walking along the embankment of this lovely small town on a beautiful sunny morning, when the sea breeze brought an appetizing aroma of Cornish pasties wafting passed my nose, which were being baked in a nearby café. It is simply impossible to pass these yum-yum Cornish Pasties places. The Pasties can have various fillings, from cheese to chicken and meat with potatoes in gravy. I bought the pie and started eating it whilst walking along the shore engulfed in the aura of the seascape. Whilst enjoying the sunny weather and the blue sea, happily chewing on my Pasty, I suddenly felt something strange behind my shoulder, like someone had gently slapped me. The very next moment I was looking at an empty hand instead of a big piece of pasty, and there in front of me several meters away was this seagull eating the remains of my lunch which she had snatched from my hands, it all happened so quick I was left speechless. Perhaps, of all the memories of this beautiful town, it was the most amusing and one I will always remember about St Ives.