We had the pleasure of visiting the Tate St. Ives Museum on our trip to Cornwall in 2006. We walked up and up narrow streets and then suddenly came out to a view of the museum with the ocean sparkling with sun pennies beyond. In the fiction-induced world I live in I like to think that this museum is what followed the gallery Lawrence Stern and his fellow artists started in that time between the wars. For all of us who have read Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers, know that Porthkeriss is St Ives.
The three-storey building, designed by architects Evans and Shalev, lies on the site of an old gas works, overlooking Porthmeor Beach. It was opened in 1993, the second regional gallery in the Tate Gallery network.
An extension to the gallery has been proposed in response to the large numbers of visitors the gallery attracts, with the aims of providing better education spaces and accommodating larger works of art. The plans have met with fierce objections from some parts of the local community. On 20 July 2010, Cornwall Council successfully bought the land for the proposed extension from the Penwith Housing Association which has pledged to use the money to build more homes for elderly people in the town.
Lawrence states that the new artists "will come to paint the warmth of the sun and the colour of the wind." It was a joy to wander through St. Ives and recognize so much from Pilcher's novels, and to sit in the museum and be surrounded by glorious art that fulfilled his long-ago prophecy.