The Penwith Gallery is the home of the Penwith Society of Arts and Crafts in Cornwall. The gallery, formerly a pilchard-packing factory, has a remarkable complex of buildings, including three public galleries, a shop and an outdoor sculpture area all for public viewing. It also houses an archive, artist’s studios and workshops.
The Society was founded in 1949 by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Bernard Leach, Sven Berlin and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, amongst others. Later members have included Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and Henry Moore. This association with so many progressive and influential artists has given the Penwith Society a unique place in British art history.
Much has been written about this interesting time in the history of the St Ives and its artistic community. Currently, the gallery boasts one of the most impressive sculptural artworks within St Ives, a gorgeous white piece which is instantly recognisable as a Barbara Hepworth. From 1967, for 46 years, the gallery was curated by Kathleen Watkins, who understandably became synonymous with the gallery and oversaw the artistic comings and goings of the gallery and its community.
Today the Penwith Society continues to play a central role in the thriving and vibrant St. Ives art community, a varied and interesting series of changing exhibitions throughout the year. As well as presenting work by members of the society, the galleries also host exhibitions from other artists based both in Cornwall and further afield.
Well worth a visit to experience a beautifully open and naturally well-lit space, for a slice of St Ives artistic history.
Open Monday to Saturday throughout the year except January.