by Porthminster Gallery | St. Ives
Date of event: 01/05/21 - 26/06/21

Porthminster Gallery’s new exhibition ‘Sea Stories’ opened with a burst of Spring optimism on 1st May.

Featuring uplifting paintings, prints and ceramics by seven gallery artists, and one invited guest artist, in a celebration of the seaside and rocky coast for which St Ives and West Cornwall is famous.

Featured artists:

Mike Bernard RI  Andrew Bird  Ian Harrold  Jenny Hirst  Martyn Perryman  Trevor Price  Anne Barrell  Craig Underhill


The large sweeping canvases, bold strokes and colours of Andrew Bird’s acrylic paintings work in a mysterious dialogue with the small-scale, heavily layered and beautifully pigmented abstract oil paintings by Ian Harrold. Both artists choosing to use abstraction as a metaphor for their deep connection with the ocean, using hidden shapes, colours and marks to evoke the intense euphoria the Cornish coast can incite in those who discover it.

Meditative sea vista paintings by Martyn Perryman recall the intense, indescribable blue and rising hypnotic light over St Ives Bay, show alongside the fine brushstrokes and details of Jenny Hirst’s paintings of the wild, windswept, rocky shorelines of West Penwith’s ‘hidden’ places.

Devon-based painter Mike Bernard RI works with acrylic paint, collage, and pastel to create richly layered mixed-media paintings, from initial on-the-spot sketches. For this show, Mike has made a new series of works to capture the essence of St Ives Bay, and the quintessential fishing town with its characterful harbour.

Mike’s compositions complement the new works of St Ives-based printmaker, Trevor Price – well-known for creating intimate and romantic scenes with the view from his studio on Barnoon Terrace as an evocative backdrop. Filled with humour, tenderness and drawing on the influences of preceding artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Ben Nicholson, Trevor’s prints are strongly imbued with a sense of a hidden story.

Showing with the gallery for the first time, Eastbourne-based ceramicist, Anne Barrell seems a perfect fit for a show referencing the stories the Cornish sea has to tell. Her handmade ceramics evoke a strong essence of the famous St Ives mariner and ‘primitive’ painter, Alfred Wallis. Layers of contrasting colours are revealed through Anne’s sgraffito technique of scratching through the surface of the slips before firing. Reminiscent of times past, rum cups, pedestal bowls, platters, and jugs feature hand-painted boats and ships traversing stormy seas or sheltering in tree-lined harbours. Anne’s pieces are sophisticated and charming at the same time and have been highlighted in a number of high-profile national media publications including Vogue, and Elle Decoration.

Having relocated to the area permanently in 2020, Craig Underhill’s exploration and ‘discovery’ of the dramatic and beautiful coast of West Cornwall has inspired this stunning new collection of his distinctive hand-built ceramics, and paintings on board. Using surface mark-making, slips, underglaze colours and glazes onto hand-built ceramic slab forms, Craig creates works, which are painterly, playful and elemental. In demand amongst serious collectors, we are delighted to be able to include Craig in this mixed show.