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Creative Beauty: Penzance Festival of Art

This new Cornish arts festival takes place in Penzance across June. With more than 1000 artists involved, here are our Muddy highlights - quick, get booking.

The first Penzance Festival of Art launches this summer bringing together the town’s plethora of artists, galleries and museums for a town-wide celebration of the very best of Penwith art, giving visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the creativity and beauty of this historic coastal town.

Running from 4-20 June 2021, many of the town’s museums and galleries are opening their doors – including The Hypatia Trust, Penlee House, Newlyn Art Gallery, Morrab Library, The Newlyn School of Art, Space for You, the Arts Society of West Cornwall, and many more.

From guided exhibitions to creative family drop-in activities, artist showcases, intriguing talks from some of the areas leading artists and more, the town will be filled with visual art from the very best of Penzance’s artists. 

We can’t wait to head to Penzance. These are our Muddy highlights:


Laura Knight Penlee House Museum & Gallery

This major new exhibition at Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance celebrates the career of one of Britain’s best-loved artists. Bringing together over seventy works by the artist, the exhibition will include paintings from private collections not seen for many years, alongside some of Knight’s most famous paintings such as Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring from the Imperial War Museums, The Cornish Coast from National Museum Wales and portrait of classical pianist Ethel Bartlett from the Atkinson Art Gallery. 

Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) was one of the twentieth century’s most prolific British artists. Her career spanned nearly eighty years and the extraordinary breadth of her talent encompassed a huge variety of subjects, techniques and styles. Her achievements included being the second ever female Royal Academician, a highly acclaimed War Artist and being made a Dame of the British Empire.

The exhibition is an overview of Knight’s entire career and focuses on several different genres; beginning with her early years, the flowering of her work in Cornwall before the First World War, through her portraiture and on to her later years painting the Gypsy dynasties in Malvern.

Seaside : Photographed, The Exchange, Newlyn (until 3 July)

Anna Fox, Hayling Island 1986 © Anna Fox, courtesy James Hyman Gallery, London

This major exhibition looks at the relationship between photography and the British seaside from the 1850s to the present. Images of the beach, hotel life, the holiday camp, dressing up and dressing down, wild waves and coastlines all combine to create a rich picture of British resorts.

As well as featuring the work of respected photographers including Jane Bown, Henri Cartier Bresson, Vanley Burke, Anna Fox, Susan Hiller, Paul Nash, Martin Parr, and Ingrid Pollard, the curators have included rich and often unknown work from across photography’s history, including Raymond Lawson’s remarkable chronicle of family life in Whitstable.

Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis and Dafydd Jones all photographed at Butlins in the 1970s and Grace Robertson records the raucous goings-on of a women’s day out to the coast in the 1950s. Enzo Ragazzini captures the anarchy of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, while Stuart Griffiths makes a bleak narrative of the 1990 rave scene in Brighton.  Composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears, partners in music and in life, created a haven by the sea that they preserved in photographs.

Curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson, Seaside: Photographed is a touring exhibition organised by Turner Contemporary.

Alongside the main exhibition runs the outcome of the WILD Young Parent’s Project, in partnership with Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, who in April 2019 commissioned photographer Steve Tanner to work with the Mums and Dads in their West Cornwall groups to investigate their relationship to the sea. What is the reality for them of living in this remote, rural county that so many people escape to on holiday?  The project concluded in December 2020 with an invitation to poet Ella Frears to work with the Mums and Dads to capture their thoughts and feeling in print.


Bait Q&A with Mark Jenkin and Mark Kermode (12 June)

Join Mark Jenkin, the writer and director of BAFTA winning film Bait, and Mark Kermode the leading UK film critic on Zoom to hear what is set to be a fascinating discussion.

Andy Warhol Talk (19 June)

Marilyn Diptych 1962; Andy Warhol’ – Estate of Andy Warhol Photo © Tate

Join The Newlyn School of Art and Tate Gallery curator Fiontan Moran to discuss the Andy Warhol Exhibition. Fiontan was co-curator of the 2020 Andy Warhol Tate Modern exhibition. The talk will offer an overview of Warhol’s career using the work from the 2020 Tate Modern exhibition as a way to talk about the variety of techniques and varied subject matter that he used. Tickets here. runs from 4 – 20 June supported by the Penzance BID – full calendar events available on the website

1 comment on “Creative Beauty: Penzance Festival of Art”

  • July 7, 2021



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