The Borlase Smart John Wells Trust owes its existence to three remarkable men, the artists Moffat Lindner, Borlase Smart and John Wells. It was formed in 1949 to buy Porthmeor Studios from Lindner and named the Borlase Smart Memorial Fund in recognition of Smart’s remarkable vision and influence. In 2002 it was renamed the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust to acknowledge the bequest of Anchor and Trewarveneth Studios from Wells’ estate.
These three artists together link the birth, development and key artistic achievements of the renowned artists’ colonies in St Ives and Newlyn. They have also played prominent roles in Cornwall’s leading arts organisations: the St Ives Art Club, the St Ives Society of Artists and the Penwith Society of Artists.
Moffat Lindner was an artist of considerable national and international standing, and he took a very active part in the artistic life of the town both as organiser and benefactor. He moved into Porthmeor Studios in 1899, and crucially stepped in to purchase the building in 1929. Shortly before his death in 1949, he arranged for the sale of Porthmeor to the Borlase Smart Memorial Fund, with the proviso that the studios should be retained for artists in perpetuity.
Borlase Smart was a greatly respected marine landscape painter, and was the main driving force of the colony in the years between the wars, helping to promote St Ives artists all over the country. He was based at Porthmeor Studios from 1924 until his death in 1947, and he is perhaps now best remembered for his support and promotion of younger artists, inviting Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Peter Lanyon to exhibit alongside himself in his Porthmeor Studio.
John Wells produced abstract paintings and relief constructions. He had bought Anchor studios in Newlyn, and although based there, was at the centre of artistic activity in post war St Ives. He was closely associated with most of the key artists, often meeting during the war years with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, and later was close friends with Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron and Bryan Wynter.
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