Brian Stevens, life long St Ives resident and Director of the St Ives Museum talks about the changes he has seen in the town.
On this page you will find the database of the oral history recordings. We are continuing to add new and archive material on a weekly basis to the website. All of the recordings listed are available to listen to in full at the Archive Study Centre in St Ives. Some of the recordings have been edited to give you a sample of the interview. Please see below for the latest updates or use the menu on the right to select an artist.You can also use the search facility if you have a particular subject you are interested in.
John Beddding came from London and eventually worked at the Leach Pottery. He gives a vivid description of the pottery as a ‘factory’ with a clear description of the kilns in action.
Margaret Reed shares her memories of the Leach family. Brought up in the cottage behind the pottery she played with the Leach children and reminisces about the Pottery in the 1940’s.
Eric Curnow was brought up in the family outfitters shop in Fore Street. Although leaving St Ives to follow a career he eventually returned to run the busines and became an important member of the Lifeboat service. Here he remembers what St Ives was like in his youth.
Willie James, born in the town, served his time as a carpenter and after the war worked for Robin Nance, a bespoke furniture maker with a workshop on the harbour. Willie made frames for many of the artists, plinths for Barbara Hepworth and remembers Nance’s workshop as a place many of the artists visited. Here he describes in detail the construction of a frame for a Ben Nicholson painting later identified as “October 1949 (Rangitane-curved panel)”. Nicholson was commissioned to make two concave panels for the New Zealand Shipping Company’s steamship: Rangitane. The panel was made of oil tempered board. The photo is of the paintings in Nicholsons’ studio at Porthmeor.
George Farrell is a step grandson of Alfred Wallis and talks about the old man and his paintings.
Roy Ray, artist and teacher was in charge of the St Ives School of Painting for many years. He is well known for his own works and knew many of the people who worked in the town over the last 40 years.
Jane Mitchell, interviewed aged 101 shared memories of St Ives and the artists she knew. Her contact with Nicholson and Hepworth was through her husband, Dennis Mitchell the sculptor, who worked with and for Barbara Hepworth.
Andrew Marshall reflects on his dad’s contribution to the Leach pottery. Bill was a local lad who took up the opportunity of an apprenticeship with Bernard Leach and went on to become a great potter in his own right as well as Mr Leach’s righthand man. As Bernard Leach aged and became increasingly infirm Bill was also his hands and eyes.