Isles of Scilly: Arts & Crafts on St Mary’s

If you’re following me on Instagram you might have seen that I visited the Isles of Scilly the weekend before last. An incredibly brave friend of mine took a huge leap last year and moved to this small group of islands off the coast of Cornwall with a population of about 2000 people to teach English at the secondary school. It’s pretty remote, certainly not the easiest place to get to, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

The idyll of the surroundings and pace of island life seem conducive to a flourishing art and craft scene which I was keen to explore, being a bit crafty myself. So on a rainy Friday, when island hopping and coastal hikes were a write-off, my friend and I went in search of local artists and makers.

Phoenix Studios

Probably the most popular gallery on St Mary’s, Phoenix Studios is home to a number of local artists and craftspeople, primarily Oriel Hicks. Oriel’s glass is colourful and striking and draws inspiration from the sea, local wildlife and plant life. My favourites were her fused glass pebble coasters and agapanthus ornaments. Oriel often runs workshops especially during the summer season.

As you walk through to the back of the studio you come to the home of Silver Sapling – beautiful hand-crafted Silver jewellery made by Lucy Gerrard. I absolutely fell in love with her style of jewellery which is also inspired by the local Scilly wildlife. I also really liked how she displayed her jewellery using driftwood, coloured bottles and sea glass which made the silver really shine in contrast. I bought a necklace with a gorgeous agapanthus design which I pretty much haven’t stopped wearing since! Lucy sells her jewellery online too so I’d encourage you to take a look at her website (link above).

Walking through the rest of the studio we saw many other artists workshops including stunning linocuts and prints by Vickie Heaney, hand painted silk scarves by Liz Askins, and the incredibly intricate polymer clay work of Popple & Stone.

Porthloo Studios

Just up the coastal path from Porthmellon beach is this cosy little converted barn, Porthloo Studios, where we found some more local makers. Peter Smith is a local artist whose upstairs gallery and shop is filled with his beautiful landscape paintings. My favourites were his agapanthus ones of course! We found some of his older abstract prints as well which had a much brighter, expressive energy to them and were well worth a look. I didn’t take photos of the gallery out of respect for the artist.

Downstairs we first had a look around Scilly Gems selling gem stones and gem jewellery as well as some soaps and other knickknacks. Next door was Scilly Socks by Susan Seddon who makes the most cosy, soft, warm slippers and headwear you’ve ever seen! I bought a thick woolly headband for cold winter days on the allotment.

Other shops & galleries

There were a few other places in town with local artworks and crafts like Silver Street Gallery with works by Steve Sherris that capture lighting beautifully, and Tamarisk. I also quite enjoyed looking around Rat Bags who make their colourful canvas bags on site with a view of the harbour.

There’s a huge amount of local artwork and craft going on all over the Isles of Scilly and far more than I could cover during my trip. I’m glad there will be some more to discover next time I go!

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