Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seaside Art Colonies - in the UK and USA

I've always been intrigued by art colonies and have tried to visit a few over the years - most of which have seemed to be beside the sea!

To date my list includes: Newlyn, Lamorna, St Ives, Walberswick, Kirkcudbright, Chelsea, Monterey, Carmel, Gloucester and Cape Ann, - plus others whose names escape me - although I suspect they're probably places like Prout's Neck which are associated with only one artist!

I'd like to know more about them - and have started to try and find out a bit. I started with the wikipedia article about art colonies but found it rather odd. I think it's talking more about planned artist communities rather than those which are places where artists choose to congregate on a more informal basis. Scope for improvement there maybe?

My aim is to try and find useful links to the various ones around the world - and was rather hoping people reading this blog might be able to suggest some.

Seaside art colonies in the UK
A major feature of art colonies is just how many of them are associated with the sea. Three years ago there was an exhibition about the ones in the UK called Painting at the Edge: Britain's Coastal Art Colonies (1880–1930) at Penlee House Museum in Penzance (well worth a visit if you ever get to Penzance).
Organised by Penlee House and the University of Northumbria, this major survey exhibition put the Newlyn and Lamorna artists' work in context with that of their near-contemporaries in other British sea-side art colonies in St. Ives, Walberswick (Suffolk), Staithes (Yorkshire), Cullercoats (Northumbria), Kirkcudbright (Dumfries & Galloway) and Cockburnspath (Scottish Border). The cross-over between the colonies is fascinating, and many names appeared in more than one place. The exhibition included works by Newlyn painters Frank Bramley, Walter Langley (who also painted at Walberswick), Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes and Fred Hall, and Lamorna group artists Lamorna Birch, A. J. Munnings, Harold and Laura Knight (who also worked at Staithes) and Charles Naper. The show included works by Mark Senior, Charles Mackie, Isa Jobling, Philip Wilson Steer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, George Clausen and George Henry, among others, loaned from public and private collections throughout the UK.
Penlee House Museum, Penzance
So that means a list of seaside art colonies (and artists) in the UK might look like this:
The Beach at Walberswick c.1889
Phillip Wilson Steer Oil painting on wood, support: 603 x 761 x 15 mm
  • Suffolk - Walberswick (Walter Osborne, Philip Wilson Steer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and George Clausen)
  • Yorkshire - Staithes (Mark Senior, Charles Mackie, Laura and Harold Knight and Isa Jobling)
  • Northumbria - Cullercoats (where Winslow Homer made his home for a while in the 1880s)
  • Borders - Cockburnspath
  • Dunfries and Galloway - Kirkcudbright
Kirkcudbright has had a long association with the Glasgow art movement, which started when a colony of artists, including the Glasgow Boys and the famed Scottish Colourists, such as Samuel Peploe and F. C. B. Cadell, based themselves in the area over a 30-year period from 1880 to 1910.
Many of them moved to the town from Glasgow, including E A Hornel, George Henry, and Jessie M King, and their presence led to Kirkcudbright becoming known as "the artists’ town", although this moniker may have originated more from tourist board publicity [4]rather than local usage.
The whodunit Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers involves the artistic community of Kirkcudbright. [5]
I'm much more familiar with the UK than elsewhere for obvious reasons - so finding out about places elsewhere will need some help!

For example, in the United States, I think the list of seaside art colonies include the following? Can people confirm - and/or tell me what's missed out?

Rockport Motif #2 9" x 12", coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The first Gloucester painter of note was native-born Fitz Henry Lane, whose home still exists on the waterfront. The premier collection of his works is in the Cape Ann Historical Museum, which holds 40 of his paintings and 100 of his drawings. Other painters subsequently attracted to Gloucester include William Morris Hunt, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, John Twachtman, Frederick Mulhaupt, Frank Duveneck, Cecilia Beaux, Jane Peterson, Gordon Grant, Emile Gruppe, Stuart Davis, Mark Rothko, Milton Avery, Barnett Newman, William Meyerowitz, Theresa Bernstein, and Marsden Hartley and artists from the Ashcan School such as Edward Hopper, John Sloan, Robert Henri, William Glackens, and Maurice Prendergast.
Monterey has a noteworthy history as a center for California painters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Such painters as Arthur Frank Mathews, Armin Hansen, Xavier Martinez, Rowena Meeks Abdy and Percy Gray lived or visited to pursue painting in the style of either En plein air or Tonalism.

I'm toying with the idea of running a series of occasional posts on the various art colonies. I just find it fascinating that you get places where artists congregate and I wonder at times whether the artists or the place is the magnet. Probably both I guess! :)