St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt CollectionSt Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection

St Ives and British Modernism

An abstract artist, George Dannatt (1915-2009) initially worked as a chartered surveyor, but studied composition and harmony in the evenings and also worked as a music critic. His musical training undoubtedly influenced his abstract paintings, and they in turn inspired the composer Sir Arthur Bliss's last major work ‘Metamorphic Variations', which he dedicated to George and Ann. George first experimented with constructivist painting in 1955 after being introduced to the artist Adrian Heath by his brother, the architect Trevor Dannatt RA.

Soon afterwards, he became friends with Patrick Heron after visiting his studio in his capacity as surveyor, and through visits to Heron's Cornish home he was drawn close to the St Ives artists. Dannatt became a regular visitor, exhibiting with the Penwith Society of Arts and joining the Newlyn Society of Artists. Through his friendships he developed a remarkable collection of artworks by figures associated with Cornwall, including Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Paul Feiler, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Denis Mitchell, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, John Tunnard, John Wells and Bryan Wynter.

George and his wife Ann, founder of the Association of Women Housing Managers, whom he married in 1943, created their own rural equivalent of Kettle's Yard, filling their home in Wiltshire with artworks, books and music. Having no immediate heirs, George and Ann had placed their collection in Trust and they explored ways in which the majority of it could be kept together for the benefit of future generations finally deciding upon Pallant House Gallery as its permanent home.