Staithes; a fishing village with an artistic pedigree
“Go to Staithes, there is no place like it in all the world for painting.” So said Thomas Bartlett, drawing master to Laura Johnson, one of the founding members of the Staithes group of 19th century painters.
The stunning quality of light along stretches of the English coastline has long attracted artists. You may be familiar with the famous artist colony of St Ives in Cornwall but at the turn of the 20th century a group of twenty-five British impressionist painters made their home in the coastal village of Staithes on the edge of the North York Moors; with its winding streets and cottages almost tumbling into the sea, it’s a must-see for visitors.
With the advent of the railway in 1883, other artists soon followed, attracted by its towering cliffs, wild seas, and warm resilient inhabitants. The ‘Staithes Group’ documented local life and work and became renowned throughout the world.
Staithes has continued to inspire artists to the present day, for its spectacular cliff-tops and sandy beach, once a major fishing port, this is a village lost in time.
Today you will find contemporary art inspired by the village and surrounding landscape at several permanent galleries, including Staithes Gallery, home to Staithes Art School, which offers painting weekend courses throughout the year.
The village usually hosts an annual International Arts and Heritage Festival in September, unfortunately cancelled for this year, but normally a magnet for art-lovers when makeshift ‘galleries’ are set up in over 80 homes and shops throughout the maze of narrow village streets; its heritage brought to life in guided walks and talks.
Don’t forget to visit the Pannett Art Gallery in nearby Whitby to view the most comprehensive selection of the works of the Staithes Group and the quirky Whitby Museum to learn more about the group’s life.
Spend the night in one of the cosy fisherman’s cottages or comfy B&Bs with stunning sea views and don’t miss the locally smoked kippers for breakfast!