Bryan Pearce (1929-2007) is recognised as one of the country’s foremost ‘naïve’ painters, and his art has been compared to that of Alfred Wallis who lived on the same street. Pearce was born in St Ives, and suffered from the then unknown condition Phenylketonuria, which affects the normal development of the brain.
Pearce specialised in paintings of his home town and the surrounding Penwith area, drawn in typically flat style, with areas of bright colour surrounded by heavy outlines, like stained glass. He was particularly drawn to the harbour and fishing boats. His learning disabilities gave his art, in the words of Peter Lanyon, an “awareness more direct” than pure observation.
Encouraged by his mother, who was herself a painter, and then by other St Ives artists, he began drawing and painting in watercolours in 1953, attending Leonard Fuller’s St Ives School of Painting. He then moved on to oil paint on board, and later, conté crayon. His home in Piazza was adjacent to Porthmeor Studios, and he would come to his studio every morning to paint, six days a week, until his death in early 2007.