Recognised as the oldest commercial gallery in St Ives, New Craftsman celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2012. Originally established in 1962 by Janet Leach, the gallery exhibited works by key St Ives School artists such as Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Bryan Winter, Patrick Heron, Bryan Pearce and Peter Lanyon as well as international artists Dame Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and Shoji Hamada. Janet was later joined by business partner Mary 'Boots' Redgrave, who owned the gallery until her death in 2002. A celebrated figure on the St Ives art scene, 'Boots' Redgrave's art collection was possibly one of the most important of its kind, containing works by artists living and working in and around St Ives throughout the second half of the 20th Century. She was married to the painter and sculptor William Redgrave, and moved with him to St Ives in 1953, establishing the St Peter's Loft School of Painting with Peter Lanyon and Sir Terry Frost. After joining Janet Leach at The New Craftsman, Boots brought with her gallery manager Michael Hunt in 1964.
Still manager at New Craftsman after 49 years, Michael possesses an unrivalled personal and academic knowledge of the St Ives art scene, and alongside present owner and Director Ylenia Haase, continues to oversee a schedule of historic and contemporary exhibitions.
After Bernard Leach's death in 1979, two groups of metal etching plates were discovered - one under his bed at Barnaloft in St. Ives and another, wrapped in sacking in the attic of the Leach Pottery. Janet Leach and her friend and business partner Mary Redgrave decided that by printing new study prints from the old plates, they might be able to stimulate new interest in the etchings. The plates were then punched so that the final edition had been made. They chose fifty-three plates and authorised a new edition of 25, plus an artist's proof and using a rubber stamp added a Bernard Leach signature to many of them.1
1. Simon Olding, The Etchings of Bernard Leach, (Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, 2010), p.24
THE PROPERTY OF A COLLECTOR