I’m currently in Cornwall. Cornwall doesn’t really do art, it does décor. Little pictures of boats or seagulls on reclaimed driftwood. Halfhearted abstract daubings designed to look edgy on the wall of your Mum’s best friend’s designer wetroom in Roehampton. Pictures of happy cows surrounded by the colours of their personal aura. Cornwall pretty much disproves the ‘drugs as inspiration’ fallacy; pump someone full of 2nd-rate LSD in 1960s Bristol, transport them to the seaside and have them run a homemade earthenware business for 45 years and you wouldn’t believe the kind of mediocre crap you’re left with.

The exception is the town of St Ives. A lot of British Modernism somehow ended up happening here, from whole movements of artists attracted by the quality of light, to Virginia Woolf, who spent the parts of her childhood which didn’t involve molestation playing on its beaches, to DH Lawrence who, along with his wife Frieda, owned what was basically a purpose-built shack for socially unacceptable buttsecks in nearby Xennor. Once you know all this, it seems like a slightly less bizarre location for one of only four Tate Galleries in the whole country. Slightly.

Given the heritage, it’s fitting that Modernism is what the gallery does best. If, like me, paintings constructed through mathematical algorithms get you going, you’re going to be rocking the intellectual equivalent of a raging semi from the moment you enter the cylindrical atrium.  ‘Object:Gesture:Grid- St Ives and the International Avant Garde’ takes us through St Ives’ obscure first album, a melting pot of Surrealism, Cubism and Dadaism, to chart-topping success in the Abstract Expressionist era (when the area was in constant communion with world-leading New York), to its later work in the middle of the century when Bauhaus masters fleeing the Nazis and Russian Constructivsts just, y’know, movin’ about turned up and shit got math-rock. There’s plenty of interesting stuff by famous locals like Naum Gabo and Barbara Hepworth, too.

Currently, a Lily Van Der Stokker greatest hits-type thing occupies the other gallery. Van Der Stokker’s work is exactly the kind of thing I hate until I actually look at it and get distracted from the disdain it deserves by how good it is. Innocuous phrases from everyday life like ‘a nice new winter coat’ or ‘sleep in our pyjamas’, mix freely with compositions of pastel colour and freeform shape, often incorporating actual objects- sofas, vases, beach balls. All of it is writ large up and down the gallery walls (accompanied by more conventional sketches). It’s a bit too kooky to be excellent, but it defies seriousness so effectively that we wind up having to take it seriously. Imagine Juno as re-imagined by Roman Polanski. Except not half as good as that, because that would be incredible.

I’m aware that for many of you, this review will be entirely irrelevant- hey, maybe even downright irritating- but I think it’s important to highlight any gallery providing a genuinely rural voice. In a country where most of the modern art we look at is housed in the nicer districts of big cities in buildings which look like leisure centres designed by Kraftwerk, it’s refreshing to see somewhere embracing its miniature size and limited frame of reference to create a compact and well formed 1 ½ hours or so of modern art. If you’re in Cornwall, make sure you take it in. After all, what the hell else are you going to do? Unless you’re into water sports or something, you massive Philistine.