An exhibition of culturally significant Cornish artwork opens to the public for the first time on St Michael’s Mount in October. The Sheila Hichens Collection of paintings by well-known Newlyn School artists will be on display in the island’s newly renovated Steward’s House.
Sheila Hichens was born in 1924 and her childhood was deeply rooted in West Cornwall, where her father was headmaster of Lescudjack School in Penzance and her grandfather lived in Newlyn. After winning a scholarship to Exeter University, she had a successful career as an educationalist and travelled widely, but in retirement came back to live in Mousehole before she was able to buy her grandfather’s old house in Newlyn
Sheila died in 2012 and by virtue of her Will, the Sheila Hichens Trust was formed to create a specific art collection to show how life was lived in West Cornwall before the middle of the twentieth century. Her trustees are William Rogers and Lord St Levan. The great majority of the Collection are by artists of the Newlyn School and includes works by Walter Langley, Stanhope Forbes, Laura Knight and Harold Harvey.
The Newlyn School began in the 1880s and continued into the first half of the twentieth century. Artists came to West Cornwall attracted by the beauty of the scenery, quality of light, simplicity of life, and the drama of the sea. They would often paint their subject in the open air, in a purer, more natural, setting.
Lord St Levan said:
“Sheila Hichens’ vision was to illuminate how life was once lived in West Cornwall through the medium of paintings done at the time by Newlyn School artists. It is an honour to be able to fulfil her wishes by sharing this Collection with the public.”
The Sheila Hichens Collection will be free to visit when the Mount is open from Sunday 2 October 2022 until Sunday 30 April 2023. During this period visitors can access the island’s harbour village, café, and shops free of charge.
During the ticket-only access period of May – September next year, the Steward’s House and the Collection will be closed to visitors and available only to local schools and other organised groups.
Find out more about the exhibition by visiting www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk
Main image: ‘Tulip Pickers’ by Harold Harvey