Cornwall has a lot to offer when it comes to culture. Cornwall is no newcomer to the art scene; it has a rich artistic heritage and boasts a varied and eclectic art scene. Modern exhibitions, contemporary galleries, local craft, traditional watercolours and much more can be found here.
After WWII St. Ives was transformed into a vibrant, influential art colony. Today it is home to Tate St Ives, the Barbra Hepworth Museum, the Bernard Leach Pottery & Museum; as well as a number of other galleries dotted about the town.
There is no shortage of art galleries throughout the county where you can see the works of established and new up and coming local and national artists.
Writers and painters draw inspiration from the impressive and breath-taking scenery. While artists make the most of the unique crystal-clear light that is found here.
There is no shortage of subject matter, with incredible scenery, breathing coastal views, pretty coastal villages and towns and a unique landscape.
You can enjoy theatre and music in both traditional and truly unique locations. Take a wander through the narrow, winding lanes, and you never know what you will stumble across.
There are many places to visit where you can observe artists at work such as the community art space Fish Factory in Falmouth.
Take the time to immerse yourself in Cornwall’s creative scene by visiting one of the many inspiring galleries dotted around the county. Below are a few suggestions.
The Exchange, Penzance
A major contemporary art space, located on Prince’s Street, it is a striking piece of award-winning modern architecture with a distinctive glass façade.
A former telephone exchange it has been beautifully converted into a contemporary art installation whilst retaining its original industrial feel. Here you can enjoy a wide range of works across all medias from both local and national artists, with all works well displayed.
This stunning space is used for live performances, screenings, and to test innovative and provocative artistic ideas. It offers the opportunity to discover a host of up-and-coming contemporary artists.
The Exchange has a bright and airy coffee shop that serves up refreshment and healthy lunches. As well as a well-stocked book and gift shop.
Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn
The gallery sits at the end of Newlyn Green as you approach from Penzance. The gallery has celebrated contemporary art and supported the artists that produce the incredible works for more than 120 years.
The gallery is found beside the fishing harbour, in a unique pavilion building where you can admire the beautiful sea views through the wall of glass. Outside is a secluded garden with outdoor seating, it is a lovely spot to just sit for a short time and take in the tranquil surroundings.
On display are contemporary works in all media by regional, national and international artists. It is a continually changing programme of exhibitions and events so there is always something new to see here.
The Picture Room is home to changing exhibitions of works for sale.
The Studio Café is located upstairs and serves a selection of hot drinks and light bites.
Penlee House Gallery & Museum
This small gallery specialises in art from the prestigious Newlyn School and Lamorna artists. It is set within Penlee Park in a former Victorian family home and is surrounded by lovely sub-tropical gardens.
The programme of changing exhibitions celebrates the people and artists who lived and worked in Cornwall during the late 19th and early 20th century. A must visit if you are into British art from this period.
The museum is well laid out with clear explanations of the exhibits. There is a fascinating collection of things to see including, exhibits of archaeology, old photographs and artefacts from bygone eras. In addition, there are frequent activities and workshops during the school holidays.
It is a lovely little museum and always has something new to see and learn. Make time to stroll around the gardens they are wonderfully peaceful.
The Organery Café is superb, serving a selection of hot and cold drinks, light meals and delicious treats, much of it is locally sourced. In warm weather it is lovely to sit on the terrace. There is a visitor shop selling copies of the paintings on display.
Located in a lovely 19th century barn conversion at Trelissick, the gallery sits amongst 400 acres of parkland, gardens and woods. The gallery displays a variety of local artists and crafts people, featuring both established artists and emerging talent.
The gallery is run by the National Trust with a unique partnership with Cornwall Crafts.
The National Trust operates the upper gallery. The lower floor exhibition space is run by Cornwall Crafts Association. The Gallery exhibits contemporary paintings, prints and sculptures together with crafts like jewellery, ceramics, textiles, furniture, metal and glass works from leading makers.
There is both an indoor and outdoor café where you can grab a coffee for a bite to eat.
Fowey River Gallery, Fowey
This delightful gallery is housed in an impressive Georgian merchant’s house. It is a dynamic and continually changing space for talented artists, across a range of media, and pushes the boundaries for a modest art gallery.
The bright and uncluttered exhibition space on the first floor features three rooms of fine art predominately by highly accomplished local artists, whose work is inspired by the sea and coastline.
The gallery houses a constantly changing series of artworks, mainly figurative, and often by West Country artists. The main exhibitions change every few weeks, so there is always something new to see.
It is a showcase for established and rising creative talent, and regular exhibitions are held throughout the year featuring paintings, sculpture, ceramics, wood turning and fine silverware.
Excellent quality crafts are also available in the shop on the lower floor.
Falmouth Art Gallery, Falmouth
This award-winning gallery is found above the library, in the Municipal Buildings. Although not huge it is one of the leading galleries here in the south west.
It houses an outstanding and eclectic collection including masterpieces by artists like Thomas Gainsborough and Henry Scott Tuke, as well as an impressive photography collection including works by Lee Miller.
It has an exciting and vibrant exhibition and event programme, as well as a temporary exhibition programme.
This is an interesting place to visit for all ages, there is a number of contemporary automata, as well as hands on activities and children’s book illustrations. Both children and adults will have fun operating cleverly constructed moving artworks.
The gift shop stocks affordable gifts from many of the county’s leading ceramicists, printmakers, jewellers and automata makers, they make a lovely souvenir or present.
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Gulval, near Penzance
These gardens were established in 2012, in a sheltered valley overlooking Mount’s Bay. It is a 22-acre outdoor gallery that is a combination of specific permanent artworks by renowned artists that sit alongside subtropical planting.
There are various works by international acclaimed artists such as James Turrell, David Nash and Richard Long. A trail takes you through the gardens but you will need to keep an eye open to spot the great range of sculptures dotted amongst the lush vegetation.
The interesting art works harmonise with the surrounding and often dramatic landscape. The fabulous sculptures range in style and size. There are a number of secluded benches dotted around where you can sit and take in the stunning surroundings in this calm oasis.
The gardens are steep but make your way to the top of the hill for amazing views across the water to St Michaels Mount.
There is a lovely café where you can grab a bite to eat or take a picnic. With lots of open space for children to run around in.
Jackson Foundation, St Just
This award winning gallery was founded by leading contemporary artist Kurt Jackson and his wife Caroline. It occupies a former industrial building that has been cleverly retrofitted along sustainable lines, in keeping with Jackson’s ecological beliefs. You will find it nestled down a side street in the town.
It is an exciting, light and airy space that showcases his works brilliantl across a broad range of medias He has an eclectic range of artistic expression spanning painting, poetry, sculpture, installation and film. The first floor space generally displays information about local projects connected to the current exhibition. There is a side galley where films can be screened.
The originals, prints, books and stationery are for sale
Yew Tree Gallery, Near Morvah, Pendeen
This contemporary fine and applied fine art gallery is found on the coast road between St Ives and Land’s End, it sits amongst fields and gardens, and faces the Atlantic across rugged moorland.
A barn like new building is home to this fine and applied art gallery. Its two rooms are adaptable spaces and have plenty of room to showcase art works.
Yew Tree Gallery has a specific selection process for artists, chosen for their ingenuity and originality of their work, whether it is paintings, sculpture, original prints, ceramics, textiles, wood or jewellery. Many of the artists on display work in Cornwall; although not limited, there are also national artist works exhibited.
There are themed exhibitions as well as solo shows of some of the country’s finest artists The exhibitions usually take place from Easter to November.
Visitors to the gallery are invited to wander through the sculpture gardens and organic potager with its wildlife pond. Take time to enjoy the views in this charming countryside setting.
The Potting Shed serves hot and cold drinks as well as freshly baked goods.
We hope you enjoy our suggestions. There are plenty more wonderful galleries around the county to discover.