St Ives has long been associated with art but the days of snapping up a good original painting for a pittance are long gone. What you will find in St Ives are a number of good quality galleries selling local pieces, many of which are from established local artists. The price tags of the most exciting pieces can be seriously budget-blowing, but a browse can often unearth some lovely and affordable artisan crafts. Poppy Treffry is the sweetest gallery with textiles and ceramics at reasonable prices – you’ll see hand-embroidered iPad ‘cosies’, mugs and teapots and framed pictures.
Worth a peek is the Art Space Gallery near the harbour. This is owned by a co-operative of local artists, all with very different styles and working in a variety of mediums. The displays change each month, so there is always new work to see.
If the art vibe of the town has piqued your interest but an original is not on the financial agenda, the shop at the iconic Tate Gallery has good reproductions of lots of the work from the famous ‘St Ives School’ of artists, as well as books, pottery and other lovely gifts. The café here has extraordinary views over the old town and out to sea; it’s a good spot for a break and if you only want to visit the shop and café here, you don’t have to pay for entry to the gallery itself.
St Ives has a growing gourmet movement and there are some excellent independent shops stocking edible treats. I Should Coco is a dangerously addictive place full of hand-made artisan truffles created in St Ives; their two week shelf life tells you how pure the ingredients are – no nasty preservatives here. The Digey Food Room is a deli/café combination that specialises in Cornish and Continental foods. You can relax with coffee and cake then take home some top-notch ingredients for dinner later. And if the seaside is making you crave ice cream, the Moomaid of Zennor parlour has the best; the milk comes from their own herd at the farm just down the road. With flavours like blackcurrant cheesecake and seasalt caramel, you might want several scoops.
To make an event of lunch, try the Porthminster Beach Restaurant. Just outside the main hub of St Ives and sitting right on the sand, the emphasis is on seafood here, although there are good choices for meat-eaters and vegetarians. The food is simple but made with excellent ingredients and the location is dreamy.
Art Space Gallery
The Wharf, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1PU, Tel. 01736 799744
Drill Hall, Chapel Street, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LR, Tel. 01736 795494
Tate St Ives
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1TG, Tel. 01736 796226
I Should Coco
39 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE, Tel. 01736 798756
The Digey Food Rooms
6 The Digey, St ives, Cornwall, TR26 1HR, Tel. 01736 799600
Moomaid of Zennor
1 Wharf Road, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1LG, Tel. 01736 799285
Porthminster Beach Restaurant
Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2EB, Tel. 01736 795352