12/08/2014, Sims Gallery.

The End of an Era...

An important selling exhibition at the Crypt gallery in St Ives (6th to 26th September) marks the end of an era for both artist and organiser. The artist, Robert Borlase Smart, was probably the single-most important figure in the town's long history of art. After settling in St Ives after WWI, Borlase went on to become a key figure in the town, not only as one of the most influential and innovative artists, but also as an organiser, council member and verbose supporter of the young modern artists whose arrival on the art scene was resisted by many of the traditional artists. As his great friend and fellow St Ives artist, Leonard Fuller, so aptly said "he was St Ives personified".
The exhibition features an impressive 100 works, from large oils to small works on paper, most of which come from the collection of Michael and Diana Smart, the artist's son and grand-daughter. The idea for the exhibition was born around a year ago, following the sad passing of Diana's parents, Michael and Tricia. Diana wanted to provide a lasting tribute to Borlase, and following discussions with Leon Suddaby, the renowned art dealer who has been a major figure in Cornish art circles since the late 1970's, the concept of a book and selling exhibition was agreed. Diana was particularly keen that the works would be dispersed far and wide, to homes and galleries, to be appreciated by new owners for years to come. Several of the works have been exhibited at major institutions such as the Royal Academy, and most are available to purchase at very affordable prices. The show provides the astute collector with a unique opportunity to acquire an original work from the family collection. A special edition of 250 posters, each numbered and stamped, will also be available on a first-come-first-served basis at only £20 each. A range of greeting cards will also be available.
To underline the importance of the artist, a new book “Borlase Smart – a life in Art” (ISBN 9781291959079) will be launched, with copies on offer throughout the show at the promotional price of £12 (RRP £19.99). The book includes contributions from Diana Smart, Marion Whybrow, David Tovey, reproductions of all 100 works and a fascinating reappraisal of the artist's oeuvre.
Organiser Leon Suddaby, of the Sims Gallery, will be well known to many in Cornish art circles. Leon came to Cornwall in the late 1970's and was one of a very small number of art dealers to re-launch traditional Newlyn and St Ives art, which until then had lost momentum and was not considered commercial. The rest, as they say, is history. Leon ran galleries in Penzance, St Ives and Marazion, and once famously took up a challenge from his great friend, Terry Frost, who he went on to represent in one of the most successful artist-dealer relationships in the annals of Cornish art history. Leon, who is to retire after the exhibition commented, “My meeting with Diana was fateful, not only did it provide us with a unique opportunity to promote St Ives' most influential artist and disperse the family collection of works, but it also provided me with a rather special way of bowing out of the art business. St Ives, in particular, has a special place in my heart, and having staged many exhibitions in the town over the years, I would consider this exhibition to be the best, the most resonant, and my swansong”.
In keeping with the Borlase Smart philosophy, a select number of works by his great friends, the artist couple Leonard Fuller and Marjorie Mostyn will be available, together with a selection of works painted in tribute to Borlase by the leading contemporary St Ives artist, Eric Ward.
Borlase Smart – a life in Art. Crypt Gallery, St Ives, 6th to 26th September 2014. Open daily from 10am until late.

Contact: Leon Suddaby (Sims Gallery): 01278 663337 - info@borlase-smart.co.uk