The Grade II* Anchor Studio has been at the heart of cultural life in Newlyn since the 1880s, used initially for over 60 years by Stanhope Forbes, father of the Newlyn School, and then by John Wells, one of the principal St Ives Modernists. Forbes and his wife Elizabeth set up the Newlyn School of Painting at Anchor which ran until 1940, attracting several students who went on to become distinguished artists, including Frances Hodgkin, Dod and Ernest Proctor, and John Wells. Jim Ede, founder of Kettles Yard, also studied at the school.
Anchor Studio is part-stone part-timber construction, and was built in 1888 in the heart of Newlyn for Stanhope Forbes, the most celebrated of the Newlyn School artists. He started the Newlyn School of Painting in 1899 with his first wife Elizabeth, also a noted artist, and it ran until 1940. Following his death in 1947, Anchor was sold by his widow Maude to one of his former pupils, John Wells.
John Wells lived and worked at Anchor until his death in 2000. Wells was an abstract painter and constructivist, who was friends with and influenced by Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo. Despite living in Newlyn, he was one of several young modernist artists closely associated with artistic life in post-war St Ives.
Following the death of John Wells, Anchor Studio was gifted to the Borlase Smart Memorial Fund in 2002, which changed its name to the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust in recognition of this bequest.