Edgar Skinner and his wife Edith (a poet) lived in Salubrious House, Salubrious Place, St Ives, in retirement from his working life as a bank manager. Having lived for some years in Italy he was multi-lingual with a cultured interest in music, art and literature. First visiting St Ives in 1907 and joining the St Ives Arts Club, they decided to settle in Cornwall around 1910. (See Tovey) A studio was created in their home, and he worked in watercolour, mainly as an occasional pastime rather than with serious intent.
The couple involved themselves in all aspects of St Ives life, to the extent that Edgar took over the role of Borough Accountant during WWI when there was something of an hiatus, and supervised the artists' garden allotments in the food shortages of 1917. He was the first President of the St Ives Literary Society in 1919. As particular friends to and admirers of the work of Frances HODGKINS, the artist was to paint what became acknowledged as her most important work of her time in St Ives: The Edwardians (1918), a group painting showing Skinner, his wife and their maid.
Edith had been responsible for recommending Bernard LEACH to her friend Frances HORNE, who was so instrumental in encouraging the establishment of the Leach Pottery and supporting it financially. Tovey writes: 'Realising that finance and paperwork were not Bernard's forte, Edgar...offered his services. In April 1922, Leach indicated that Skinner was joining the Pottery the following month as "business manager and assistant craftsman", but he is generally referred to as the Secretary.' At this point the Skinners moved from Salubrious House and built a new home opposite the pottery (today a hotel known appropriately as 'Edgar's').
When the Hornes' business failed and financial support to the Leach enterprise dried up, Skinner's idea of obtaining some support from students interested in apprenticing themselves to the Pottery, by paying for the privilege and giving free service, was useful in tiding over some critical moments. When Edgar died in the winter of 1925, Leach installed tiles on his grave at Barnoon Cemetery which read "He went through life with outstretched hand of help."
works and access
St Ives March1913, March 1919; Market Hall, Penzance Great Exhibition and Sale of Work 28 April - 5 March 1917
Exhibited two Italian scenes at St Ives in March 1913 and at the RWA.
STIAC 1919 (November, Hon Secretary)
Leach Pottery, Business Manager and Secretary
misc further info
With many thanks to the family descendants of the Skinners for our clarification of this 'liberal and artistic couple'.
Correspondence and photographs from descendants. (2012);
St Ives Times 28 Mar 1913, 27 Apr and 4 May 1917, 14 Mar 1919, 21 Nov 1919, 16 Feb 1923
Chanter, C (2012) His Beloved St Ives, The Painter Gerard Wagner (photo)
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p346)
Tovey (2008) Sea Change, Art in St Ives 1914-1930, Section 10.3.5
Whybrow St Ives (1901-10 list pp 213-4)