Top ten art galleries in Cornwall

The Exchange, Penzance. Photo: Ewen MacDonald

The Exchange, Penzance. Photo: Ewen MacDonald - Credit: Archant

Few places offer so much choice when it comes to art – so here’s our pick of the best places to satisfy even the most descerning of culture vultures

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Penzance. Photo: Ewen MacDonald

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Penzance. Photo: Ewen MacDonald - Credit: Archant

Falmouth Art Gallery

This wonderful gallery manages to maintain the basic requirements of a municipal museum while bringing visitors a corncuopia of contemporary art. Its most recent exhibitions included Jeremy Gardiner: Coastal Landscapes, (until 13 June) alongside some great temporary displays.

Jeremy Gardiner has spent the last five years exploring locations on Britain’s south coast from Kent to Cornwall. Gardiner has taken his inspiration, not only from the natural world which has long been a feature of his work, but from popular portrayals of the coastal landscape in travel posters, guide books and postcards. The exhibition features Gardiner’s new body of work hung alongside a selection of railway and Shell posters, illustrated guidebooks and postcards.

New Craftsman

Situated on St Ives beautiful Fore Street, the New Craftsman is known for its ever changing programme of exhibitions of original paintings by emerging and established Cornish and international artists, alongside contemporary craft including studio ceramics, glass, sculpture and hand crafted jewellery.

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New Craftsmen Gallery

New Craftsmen Gallery - Credit: Archant

Tate St Ives

No list of Cornwall’s most popular arts venues can miss out Tate St Ives. This building houses a cornucopia of 20th century talent as part of its permanent collection – among them De Staijl, Picasso and Mondrian. An ever changing – and newly extended – exhibition space means there is something new to see here every season.

Within your ticket price, you can also include a trip to Barbara Hepworth’s Museum and Gardens – and you really must! Not only is the site of her garden filledw ith her sculptures an unmissable visit, her former house and studio are open to view.

The Poly, Falmouth

Set within a wonderful Victorian building, The Poly houses a cinema and threatre productions where arthouse films can often be enjoyed. But the front space is also a galelry, available for rent – and so young and emerging artists can often be found on display. Some are worth collecting now, before Charles Saatchi snaps them up.

Eden Project Photo: Ewen MacDonald

Eden Project Photo: Ewen MacDonald - Credit: Archant

Newlyn Art Gallery and the Exchange

This split-venue art venue is used to great effect, often spreading the same exhibition across both sites, but more often curating different works on a theme. The Exchange has the white walls and big empty spaces that cry out for contemporary and pop art, while Newlyn Art Gallery offers a great gift shop of local craftmakers.

Penlee House Gallery & Museum

An incredible permament collection of art works from the so called Penwith artists mingle with other artists that tell stories of Cornwall – whether recording the ordinary lives of the fishing communities or capturing the landscape, its perfect for whiling away an afternoon.

Eden Project

A surprise entry into a write up about art galleries, but Eden is fast developing a lively and ever chaing arts programme. Alongside semi-permanent sculptures waiting to be discovered within the gardens there are a range of shows.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

I’ve always considered the best place for sculpture is in curated gardens where pieces can be free to interact with their surroundings as well as the changing seasons and light. Highlights include Turner Prize winner Richard Long and Penzance’s Tremenheere Gardens also has the added attraction of a beautiful new interior gallery space which has featured work by Gillian Ayres and Sir Michael Craig-Martin – and there’s also a cafe, of course.

Cornwall Open Studios

With more than 300 artists and makers taking part each year, Corwall’s Open Studios is a veritable moveable feast of visiual arts. This year’s event takes place 23 May to 31 May and will feature sculptors, textile artists and botanical illustrators; printmakers, potters and painters many with workshops and the occassional cream tea.

Lemon Street Gallery

This commercial gallery has an ever changing range of works set across three elegant floors in one of Cornwall’s prettiest Georgian streets.

One place you won’t be visiting is the loo. Most galleries have been forced to close their visitor’s toilets. While the Covid 19 pandemic continues, gallery openings and arrangements are subject to change - so check the latest information before visiting.

This article first appeared in Cornwall Life’s April 2020 issue. Find out more about the latest subscription offers here.