William Redgrave (1903-1986) was a painter and sculptor. He was encouraged by Francis Bacon to take up sculpture in 1957, and later described by writer and critic Bevis Hillier as “one of the great sculptors of the twentieth century”. His major work, ‘The Event’, was a bronze triptych weighing a tonne and consisting of 228 figures, and it took him three years to make. When it was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1966, The Daily Telegraph reviewed it as “the most successful piece of sculpture seen at the Academy for many years.” Sadly it was partially destroyed in the Momart warehouse fire in 2004. Redgrave also did portrait heads of a number of noted people, including Henry Cooper, Diana Rigg and Laurence Olivier.
Redgrave’s stay at Porthmeor was most notable for his studio sub-lets. His Studio 3 was used for the St Peter’s Loft art school that he ran with Peter Lanyon, whose students included Tony O’Malley. Francis Bacon rented it for six months just before his first one-man show at Marlborough Gallery, and Peter Lanyon later used it for his 10m wide commission ‘Porthmeor’. The studio was also to be used as part of a plan by Peter Lanyon to invite three major American artists to work in St Ives in 1958, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell and Sam Francis. Unfortunately this did not work out.