“Go to Staithes!”

Fishermen Ashore by John Spence Ingall

This was the advice given to the young Laura Johnson (later Dame Laura Knight) by her drawing master Thomas Barrett. He added “There is no place like it in all the world for painting!”

Many artists agreed with him. Staithes had been home to the “Turner of the North” George Weatherill, his son Richard and daughter Mary, also successful artists, throughout the nineteenth century. The coming of the railway brought yet more. Young British impressionists flocked to Staithes to paint its towering cliffs and wild seas, storm battered cottages and resilient fisherfolk.

The Staithes Group

Fisherfolk at Staithes by  Robert Jobling

The artists, among them Laura and her husband Harold Knight, Fred Jackson, Robert Jobling and his wife Isa, John Spence Ingall, Joseph Bagshawe and Arthur Friedenson, formed the Staithes Art Club and for many years they lived among the fisherfolk, painting and developing the skills that would one day make The Staithes Group renowned throughout the world.

Contemporary Art in Staithes

Later in the twentieth century Lilian Colbourn came to live in Staithes, as she put it “to save my artistic soul”. So did Eric Taylor and Fred Williams. Len Tabner paints from his studio high on the cliffs at Boulby. David Curtis has a cottage in the village. Countless artists have and still do visit Staithes regularly and find inspiration among the huddled cottages, winding paths, towering cliffs and wild seas.