2023 - A year of development

As 2023 is drawing to a close I wanted to reflect on what I had achieved over the past 12 months.  As you may be aware I had decided to take a step back from so many exhibitions & events this year to explore some new work but also have some time to consider what direction to take my creative practice moving forward.


To start the year off I completed an online course with artist Kitty Hillier with the St Ives School of Painting.  This course 'Seaweed, seabed, cove & coast' I had purchased previously in 2022 but did not have the space until the next January to fully immerse myself in the process.  This was a great way to start the year with some creative play over the first couple of weeks of the year.



In January I also had a painting 'Contours' accepted at the Penwith Gallery Associates show.  I also completed several new paintings in preparation for the year ahead & continued to do daily sketchbook pages.




In late  February I began work on some new metalwork ideas which continued into March resulting in framed 'Metallic texture' pieces. (I wrote a little blog post about that here)



April was another course with Kitty Hillier this time actually taking place at the School of Painting exploring the landscape & abstraction.  It was wonderful to spend 3 days mark making & I created a sketchbook with some of the many papers made during the course.

Sketchbook handmade by Sharon McSwiney, St Ives




This month also was when I finally completed a range of jewellery inspired by Barbara Hepworth & the St Ives Troika pottery - again see post here.  I am really pleased with how this collection has been received.  

April 12th was also significant as it marked 2 years in our Island Square gallery but also 10 years since moving to Cornwall.  That time has gone so fast!

images of the Gallery on the Square, Sharon McSwiney in St Ives Cornwall


We fitted in workshops with both Natalie Day & then Pete Ward in the spring.

May was busy in the gallery & workshop creating work for one of the only summer events I was showing at in Warwickshire.  'Serendipitous' was a really successful exhibition at Clay Barn with Louise Darby in June (see post here

Treacle kitten collage of images


June was also the month that little Treacle joined the cat clan!  She has been a joy & fitted in really well with the others.  Very sadly we had to say goodbye to Taboo at the end of August.  She had been a really great cat for many years.


Taboo cat and Treacle kitten image together Barnaby, Timmy and Treacle kitten all together on the sofa
images of Taboo a tabby cat


The summer months of July & August flew by as always!  The gallery & Back Road Artworks were both busy with lots of metalwork sales & several paintings going off to new homes.  Despite the weather we still managed to make the most of the hectic few months.  I took part in the annual CRUK event at St Just (see post) which was so well supported as usual. 


Sharon McSwiney sketching in the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives  image of sketch by Sharon McSwiney in the Barbara Hepworth Garden in St Ives


Another excellent course was with Hilary Gibson at the end of July (see here) such a lovely opportunity to spend time in the Hepworth Garden & the School of Painting again. I did say this year was about exploring new ideas so lots of workshops & courses made up a large part of my time. I also gave a little demo at the St Ives Arts Club Friday Art group with my sketchbook explorations.


September is one of my favourite months in St Ives with lots happening & usually still nice weather to enjoy. Further workshops with Natalie Day & Virginie this month.  We also went underground into a tin mine with Cornwall Underground Adventures for Tim's birthday - quite a challenge for me! 

cyanotype experiments by Sharon McSwiney in St Ives    textile experimentation by Sharon McSwiney
Sharon McSwiney and Tim Ashfield at Cot Valley, Cornwall Underground Adventures mining


This month I finally introduced some 9 ct gold limpets to my range of jewellery.  These are currently only available in the gallery however I do plan to list some on the website next year.

gold limpet jewellery by Sharon McSwiney-St Ives, Cornwall handmade
Copper mine abstract painting by Sharon McSwiney, St Ives, Cornwall


October allowed me to create some more paintings & recently one of those 'Copper mine' sold at Back Road Artworks.   We climbed up inside Truro Cathedral for the 'Celestial heights' tour & saw the incredible 'Gaia' installation.


Gaia installation of earth artwork at Truro Cathedral 2023    Gaia sculpture at Truro Cathedral view from above by Sharon McSwiney


Lots of preparation for the only Christmas event this year; 'Makers' at Penryn in early November.  Really well attended & fabulous sales.  It is such a well organised event & all the exhibitors seemed to do well this year.

Sharon McSwiney stand display at Makers Penryn November 2023


The end of November was a course at Newlyn School of Art with Dan Pyne - see post which was totally inspiring & will start 2024 with further explorations!  

Image of experimental painting by Sharon McSwiney

We also did a couple of little workshops at the Leach Pottery just down the road from our cottage making a slip decorated plate & some winter decorations.  It is great to have such a resource so close at hand.  It is always tempting when you pop into the gallery shop though!


Gallery on the Square, Sharon McSwiney, St Ives December 2023  Seagulls at the Gallery on the Square, Sharon McSwiney,St Ives

December things start to really quieten down in St Ives.  We put up some festive decorations & enjoy the emptiness of the town - not great for business but nice when it is calm.  

We are so grateful for another year here in beautiful St Ives & for all the support from our customers.  It has been a balance of hard work & time to enjoy where we live; visiting exhibitions, the coast, gardens, theatre & enjoying some great food.  Looking forward to a busy & fulfilling 2024! 

We will be closing the gallery on Friday 22nd December for a little while.  During January we will open by arrangement so please contact us if you would like to visit.


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from Sharon & Tim in St Ives.  We hope to see you in 2024!



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