John Wells initially trained as a doctor, but was encouraged to become an artist by Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo ­ both of whom had moved to St Ives during the War. Initially Wells made purely abstract geometric constructions, but these soon began to reflect the world around him: the rigging of boats, the flight-patterns of birds and the movement of clouds over the Cornish peninsular.

Wells was a co-founder of the Crypt Group and the Penwith Society of Arts, both of which were showcases for the ‘new generation’ of St Ives artists that included Wells, Heron, Lanyon and Wynter. From the 60s onwards, Wells withdrew from exhibiting in London, preferring to work alone in his studio and as a result, the last few decades of his life were full of experimentation as he sought a way of interpreting the uniqueness of his surroundings through abstraction.

Tate St Ives held a major retrospective in 1998 and his work can be found in a number of public collections, both in Britain and abroad.



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