In 1927, the St Ives Society of Artists (STISA) was founded by marine artist George Fagan Bradshaw. A dedicated exhibition venue and an administrative headquarters for the sole use of the Society was acquired at the former studio of Julius OLSSON. This was 5, Porthmeor Studios, to be known as the Porthmeor Gallery, focus of artistic developments in St Ives. Artists took turns to curate exhibitions until a permanent curator could be appointed in May 1929, with the financial help of membership subscriptions. Invitations to past prominent residents of the artists’ colony were issued, and membership encouraged from other artists with Cornish connections.
A series of interesting lectures was instituted from such as John PARK, Robert Borlase SMART, Bernard LEACH, Samuel John Lamorna BIRCH and others. The first president of the new society was the highly esteemed Moffat LINDNER, with a supporting cast of artists taking roles for shorter or longer terms (George Fagan BRADSHAW, Francis John ROSKRUGE, W Herbert TRUMAN, Alfred COCHRANE, Arthur HAYWARD, Hugh GRESTY, and later Bernard Trevorrow NINNES and Alixe Jean Shearer ARMSTRONG).
With the arrival of the modernists on the outbreak of World War II, including Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, conflict arose between the newcomers and the traditionalist members of the Society. In 1947 the modern artists began to organise separate exhibitions, most notably in the crypt of the church itself. They became known as the Crypt Group and in 1948, the members of the Crypt Group became founding members of the Penwith Society of Arts PSOA.
In 1945 the former Mariners Church became the headquarters of STISA. The gallery hosts a number of exhibitions each year for its members, as well as open exhibitions which attract a great number of visitors. The Crypt Gallery below is available to hire as an exhibiting space.
Tovey Creating a Splash pp 12-16