The Borlase Smart John Wells Trust Limited owns and manages unique and historic artists studios in St Ives and Newlyn, Cornwall, including possibly the two oldest surviving studios in the country. We will continue to develop this website over the next few months to include full details of the Trust’s activities, the rich heritage of its studios and its renovation projects.
Porthmeor Studios, St Ives
Porthmeor Studios in St Ives dates back to the early 1800s, and for its first 100 years it was at the centre of the pilchard industry. The artists started to arrive in the 1880s, and built their studios on top of the fishermen’s cellars. Since then, Porthmeor has provided workspace for several internationally important artists, including Ben Nicholson, Francis Bacon and Patrick Heron.
The Grade II* building still provides workspace for fishermen, artists and the St Ives School of Painting and really defines the history of St Ives, but 120 years exposure to Atlantic gales had taken its toll, and it was placed on the English Heritage ‘Buildings At Risk’ Register.
An outstanding £4 million renovation programme was completed in November 2012, and the project was a joint winner of the Cornish Building Group Awards, and is a finalist in the National Lottery Awards and English Heritage Angels Awards.
Anchor Studio and Trewarveneth Studio, Newlyn
The artist John Wells bequeathed these two studios to the Trust in 2002. Anchor Studio was built by Stanhope Forbes in the 1880s, and is the last remaining studio from the Newlyn School still in its original layout. It is now Grade II listed, and needs substantial renovation works. Trewarveneth Studio was formerly the local infant school, but since 1967 had been used as studios by John Wells and Denis Mitchell. This building was renovated in 2007 to create six artists' studios. Read more about this project.
The Trust is a limited company, Registered in England No 5400279. Charity number 1118840