A galaxy of star names, a bright array of local performers, and a colourful programme of arts events are all set to light up St Ives

The Three Degrees
The Three Degrees

Running from 9th to 23rd September, the 2023 St Ives September Festival kicks off with the first of two Saturday afternoons of street entertainment, and includes an unprecedented number of free events to watch, listen to, and participate in.

Additions to the programme since the last issue of St Ives Local include:

  • Two world-class St Ives Jazz Club nights at the Western Hotel, with Will Collier’s Chet Baker Project, and Dean Stockdale’s Celebrating Oscar.
  • Special showings of Cornwall-made film Zennor Spirit of Place, with Q&A sessions with Bob Osborne, St Ives author of the book of the same name, and Newlyn-based film-maker Diana Taylor, at the Royal Cinema. It explores personal and political dramas following the arrival of D H Lawrence in Zennor during the First World War with a backdrop of witchcraft, scandalous sexual intrigue, black magic rituals, and Nazi spy rings!
  • The return of American country singer, musician, and flat-foot dancer Martha Spencer for the first time since 2018. Martha, who has previously performed here with her family’s White Top Mountain Band, will be joined by musical partner Archer.
  • Two galleries new to the festival, with Black Seal on Fernlea Terrace displaying A Pack of Wolves, by Lauren Sebastian, plus poet Susan Taylor’s La Loba Speaks for Wolf show, and the Island Gallery in Back Road hosting Jenny Ryrie’s Flowing Line.

Other exhibitions include Compass in The Crypt, with artist Stephanie Sandercock and sculptor Julie Moselen at the St Ives Society of Artists’ Crypt Gallery, followed by Paul Wadsworth’s Colour In Life at the same venue. There’s also Small Works with Zoe Eaton and Peter Giles at Barnoon Arts, and A Painter and A Poet, Conversations In Colour, a collaboration between painter Alice Mumford and poet Sue Leigh at Belgrave St Ives, Higher Bussow Farm, Towednack.

Open Studios features 30 artists welcoming visitors to view and discuss their work. Snap up bargains at St Ives Rotary’s annual Spot the Artist charity sale and at St Ives Society of Artists’ Square Deal Art Sale.

The Guildhall appearance of West Country “folk royalty” Show of Hands sold out nine weeks in advance, with the Three Degrees — once hailed as the then Prince Charles’ favourite group — and Irish folk star Cara Dillon heading towards full houses.

Left to right: The Good Old Fashioned Lover Boys; Tir ha Tavas; and Gary Delaney

Additions to the St Ives Arts Club programme include the return of St Ives singer-songwriter Nicole Tesseyman, who launched her career with a sell-out show there last year; West Penwith folk quartet Baldrick’s Plan, with Johanna Hillebrand and Grace Dulcimer; Du Glas (also appearing at Cohort St Ives); Songs of the Community with St Ives collective Global Jamming; and two traditional Big Frugs with Bob Devereux, who also hosts the daily Norway Square music and poetry lunchtimes. The Arts Club has also unveiled talks from Cornish art historian David Tovey and St Ives social historian Janet Axten.

Porthmeor Studios’ films include the first St Ives screening of Lubaina Himid CBE in Porthmeor Studio 5 — shot there with the Turner Prize-winning artist — and the return of the award-winning Pilchards: A Brief History of the Cornish Sardine. Porthmeor talks include Secret Gardens of Cornwall, with the book’s author Tim Hubbard; A Painter and A Poet book launch, with Alice Mumford and Sue Leigh; The Granite Kingdom, with author Tim Hannigan; and a talk by current Porthmeor artist in residence Noorain Inam. New at Porthmeor this year, from 16th to 22nd September, are Dada Lounge’s Big Cellar Collective, a free daily 12-hour event featuring talks, workshops, performance, spoken word, and more; and the evening Dada Lounge with musical jam sessions and spoken word open mic.

Penwith Gallery presents its biggest-ever festival programme, with free demonstrations and talks including Pottery Throwing, Stone Carving, Sticking Things Together, a Raku Demonstration; Jason Lilley’s popular Penwith Gallery Archive talk; several Meet The Artist sessions; and three current art exhibitions. The gallery also hosts Songs and Stories in the Gallery with Boilerhouse, and gypsy jazz with Pam and Noel Betowski.

The Countrymen
The Countrymen

Café Art presents shanty singers Cork an Barbor at The Rum Bar, Tir ha Tavas with their self-penned Cornish Life, and This Way Up, plus several workshops and an exhibition of prints by Annabel Wilkes.

St Ives Library features Kev F’s Comic Masterclass workshop for kids, and for adults a Making Books workshop with Jo McIntosh; a workshop for would-be writers with Anna Mansell; and talks with author Liz Fenwick and travel writer Des Hannigan.

Get active with trapeze workshops with Sky High Arts; Cornish Nos Lowen dancing with Skillywidden at the Guildhall; and walks with Tony Farrell, Festival ‘newbie’ Nicky Ferguson, St Ives Archive’s Tony Mason, and a Tour of Virginia Woolf’s Talland House Garden with Polly Carter … and quench your thirst with Official Festival Beers from new sponsor St Ives Brewery!

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