Jessica Warboys, Sea Painting, Dunwich, 2014. For AV Festival at Laing Gallery, Newcastle. Copyright the artist, 2015. Courtesy the artist and Gaudel de Stampa, Paris.

Mark Essen reports on the recently reopened Tate St.Ives. A recipient of an Engine micro-bursary, Mark wished to visit to visit galleries in the Cornwall area for professional development and attend a group show in which he was exhibiting.

Closed for extended refurbishment since October 2015, the opening of Tate St. Ives has been much anticipated. The gallery opens with two exhibitions which explore the history of artists working in the area. An exhibition of work by Jessica Warboys, an artist who uses nature in a raw, unprocessed state has produced a new series of sea paintings. These works are made by the transference of minerals from the sea at Zennor directly onto the canvas.

That Continuous Thing: Artists and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – Today traces the changing shape of the ceramics over the last 100 years. The show brings to attention the early considerations of British Studio Pottery into the realm of fine art. The exhibition’s introduction gathers together works by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada who were based in St. Ives in the 1920s. Leach was pioneer in British Ceramics, bringing eastern philosophy and aesthetics to his St.Ives Studio.


The exhibition continues with contemporary ceramicist Jesse Wine, curating a room by placing his own work alongside American artists such as Peter Voulkos, Ken Price and Ron Nagle. Similarly Aaron Angell has curated a room in which he explores studio pottery with his own Troy Town studio based in London. It is in this part of the show that I was invited to show work I had made at Troy Town in 2016. Angell delves deeper into the history of ceramics, placing works from the 400-200 BC Italy and 12th century England next to contemporary works. The placement of these objects encourages an endless curiosity; it manages to deconstructed the progression of time to our fascination with objects. It is an example of how our relationship with handmade clay objects can relate to those that lived before us. There’s little difference between the historical works and some of the contemporary works. It’s an expansive range of works from around 30 artists with over 60 works placed on handmade arts and crafts style tables in the gallery.

The cycle of the artist studio is prevalent in the practice of any creative output. Reciprocating between the input of people turned by ideas of a material and distinguished by the output of the phenomenon. It can also be a reflection of historical economics of a vernacular which flows into a philosophy and aesthetic. The very bold and bright works in the room curated by Wine reflects 1960’s America. A contrast with the 12th centenary head. Throughout the whole show each work functions as interlocutor. This exhibition explores the speciality of a relationship between artist and a material, clay is nothing but it can be everything.

That Continuous Thing: Artists and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – Today features the work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, Peter Voulkos, Ken Price, Rudy Autio, Ron Nagle and Jesse Wine.

Artists showing part of Troy Town: Aaron Angell, Alex Frost, Allison Katz, Andrew Munks, Anthea Hamilton, Colin Self, Denise Wren, Emily McCartan, Gillian Lowndes, Hannah Regel, Hubert Dalwood, Ian Law, Isabel Mallet, Jess Flood-Paddock, Jill Crowley, Mark Essen, Matthew Peers, Matthew Smith,Mo Jupp, Nicolas Deshayes, Richard Slee, Rose De Borman, Samuelle Nicole, Sophie Von Hellermann, Tom Salt, Town Gas Group (Toyin Olubamiwo, Cynthia Waithaka, Christina Marshall), Unknown maker 12th century, Nottingham, Unknown maker 400-200 BCE, Veii (near Rome), Viola Relle & Raphael Weilguni, Will Robinson.