The Island at St Ives is my place to go for contemplation. It’s the big hill overlooking the town, west of the Tate. In my pottery I like to explore new techniques a lot and things do go wrong. If you go for a walk, you can think – how do I solve that one?
Up there, it’s peaceful. On one side you have the small sandy beach of Porthgwidden and the coastline down to Newquay, on the other you have the Atlantic where often you can spot seals and, if you are lucky, dolphins. Further round to the west you have Porthmeor Beach and the Tate Gallery building, and in the distance the black spots of surfers riding the waves.
My other favourite place is the nature reserve at Upton Towans, about 10 miles east of St Ives near Godrevy lighthouse. It’s the largest dune system in Europe. It’s inspirational, a place where you can get lost in the dunes and your thoughts. You never take the same path twice, because the dunes are all over the place. I bought a chalet there two years ago where I spend weekends. It’s that romantic thing of living on the beach.
• John Bedding trained at the Bernard Leach Pottery and now runs St Ives Ceramics
St Ives is linked to St Just and Cape Cornwall in the far west by the Tinners’ Way, a prehistoric track that follows the granite upland spine of Penwith. I have painted and walked this dramatic route many times, a path that passes my front door and smallholding. It is said to have been used for the transportation of tin ore by packhorse.
For me this is a good day’s walk, producing maybe 80 quick-fire line drawings followed by many months of painting sessions alone in the isolation of a wild landscape sprinkled with the quoits, stone circles, ruined prehistoric villages and remnants of mines and moorland dwellings.
This is a hard, beautiful country, with exquisitely named places – Kenidjack, Bosullow Trehyllys, Chûn, Mên Scryfa – linking coasts of blazing sunlit seas or huge Atlantic storms and crossing small family-run farms, dipping into secluded scrubby valleys.
Start at either end, take your time, have a picnic with you and wear some good boots and hopefully you will start to understand what makes this place tick: the choughs’ screech, the tin ore in the rock, the acid soils under foot, the Atlantic winds on your face, the spectacular ancient hedges, the scent of gorse and heather.
• Kurt Jackson is one of the UK’s leading landscape painters and runs the Kurt Jackson Foundation Gallery in the old mining village of St Just, near Land’s End
There are two places in St Ives, where I paint from, that are special to me. One is particularly special during winter: it’s a holiday apartment in a quaint terrace of cottages called The Warren, just below the railway station car park. The cottages sit right on the water’s edge, above Crab Rock.
The apartment is called The Lighthouse – quite rightly as it has four tiny floors leading off a spectacular circular metal staircase, all with magnificent views down into the harbour and St Ives and right out across the bay to Godrevy lighthouse. With the changing tides and dramatic skies creating exquisite mood and colour, there is never a dull moment here. It’s exhilarating to paint from – and has a balcony – a wonderful place to watch waves in high winds, with rollers crashing beneath you.
The second place is stunning in summer. It’s at the far end of Porthminster Beach, near the whitewashed 1930s building that is the fabulous Porthminster Beach Cafe.
Next to the cafe is a small area containing a pretty cluster of hydrangea bushes in front of a couple of benches, just above the beach. It’s a quiet place with spectacular, Mediterranean-like views across the white sands of the beach, towards the town and out to sea – from here it’s good to observe the vibrancy and hustle and bustle of St Ives in the summer, without feeling overwhelmed by it.
• Emma Jeffryes paints landscapes of St Ives and beyond. She is based in nearby Carbis Bay. Her work will be shown at the Affordable Art Fair in London on 19-22 October at Caroline Horn Fine Art and is also on display at the New Craftsmen Gallery in St Ives
I like Newlyn, a small fishing port about a mile or so from Penzance, with its harbour, pier, narrow cobbled lanes and terraces of stone cottages on the hillside. It’s got a long history as an artists’ colony stretching back to the late 19th century and is probably best known for the artists who came there in the 1880s to paint the unspoilt coastal scenery and capture the everyday lives of those who lived and worked there.
This also spawned the development of decorative arts in the area with studio pottery, copperwork, jewellery and textiles, something that can still be seen today, with many small galleries, studios and individual artists continuing to find inspiration there. It still has a working fishing industry. It’s not all chocolate-boxy but it is lovely.
If you go down to Newlyn’s harbour, it’s all scratched old boats and ropes and buoys, fantastic colours and patterns. Textile people are slightly obsessed with pattern and I love those little details for my work.
• Carole Green is based near St Agnes on the north coast, where she creates landscapes and still-lifes from hand embroidery, appliqué (ornamental needlework) and stitch
I get drawn to the area around Porthcurno, south of Land’s End, for beaches, surfing and spearfishing. The Minack Theatre is great to visit or you can park at Treen and walk along the cliffs. Beneath the 65-tonne rocking boulder Logan Rock, is a beach called Pedn Vounder.
You walk down to it with a rocky scramble at the end and right there is the classic “Am I in this country?” beach, with sparkling-clear waters, golden sands and granite rocks. Another beach nearby is Porthchapel, which you can walk to from the car park next to the stunning church at St Levan. This beach seems to share the extraordinary microclimate associated with the Minack Theatre and I’ve been there in November, December, January, February, sunbathing in a pair of shorts with kids playing in the sea.
Often we end up admiring the stars, drinking a glass of wine and sleeping on the beach, although you have to be aware of the tides and it can get a bit noisy from crashing waves.
The other place I go is Carrick Roads, the creeks around Falmouth. We’ve got a little rowing boat, which we launch from Mylor village or Falmouth and row across to a little beach below St Anthony lighthouse (which featured in the opening credits for Fraggle Rock). We often camp there and spend the time rowing around and spearing fish to cook on the beach.
The great thing about Cornwall is you’ve got such incredible beauty and diversity in quite a small area and you can always leave the crowds behind if you know how.
I particularly like the Hayle estuary. I’ve done a lot of painting there. I like it because it changes with the tides in major ways. The estuary mouth is narrow but then it broadens into an area laced with small streams and islands of sand where ducks, waders and swans congregate when the tide is out. It is a place of constant change.
Then you can walk two miles up the Hayle river to St Erth. The village has a church, a chapel and a good pub, the Star Inn, and it still has its own post office. The river is fast-flowing here, full of beautiful red weed in summer. If you are lucky you will see kingfishers darting and, in summer, swallows and swifts swooping low over the water. There are wildflowers in profusion on its banks. You can walk as far as Relubbus, a hamlet that is a great place for birdwatching. There are trout in the river and good fishing, especially in the two big ponds from the mining days, where they used to sieve the tin.
I’ve always been fascinated by the old tin mines and the derelict miners’ cottages in the landscape. There are mine workings in every direction. You will find wonderful verdigris stains on the old waste heaps. Contemplating the workings. I get the sense of lives spent here. I used to paint in relation to that. Just south of St Ives there are good ones around Trencrom and Trink Hill, opposite the Engine Inn. When I first moved to Cornwall we used to go to the Engine to hear good, spontaneous, close harmony singing from men who had, once, worked in the mines. It is still a good place to go for music.
• Bob Devereux is an abstract painter, gallerist and performance poet who runs the annual St Ives Literary Festival
Jonathan Lorie stayed at Starboard Lookout (sleeps four, from £790 a week, aspects-holidays.co.uk)