Celebrating Work and Play
Drawing on Penlee House’s extensive photographic archive, the exhibition will show 130 photographs covering a variety of themes. Scenes captured by both amateurs and professionals from the early days of photography in the Victorian era such as Gibson & Sons and Robert Preston will sit alongside nostalgic images by press photographer Harry Penhaul from the 1940s-50s and more recent work by Phil Monckton and Vince Bevan. The show covers over 150 years of photography, with the earliest image on display dating from 1858 and the most recent from 2011.
The exhibition has been curated by John Edwards, and fellow volunteers from the Penlee House Photographic Research Group have undertaken hours of research to discover who is in the photographs and the locations that they depict. Among the many scenes captured are a record pilchard catch, an extremely thirsty haymaker, Humphry Davy’s statue getting a clean, snow in Cornwall, a 1950s birthday party and a visit from Coco the Clown.
Some of the most striking images show men, women and children at work in the key Cornish industries of fishing, farming and mining. Penlee House’s Curator, Katie Herbert says: “the images are a remarkable depiction of the hard work that enabled Cornish industry to thrive throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”
The images of people at ‘play’ in West Cornwall are just as impressive, including days out on the beach, tea treats, parties, plays and cinema. The pictures show adults and children making the most of precious leisure time and include some enigmatic works from the 1930s by relatively unknown photographer Geraldine Underell. And who knows, you might even spot one of your relatives in the photographs!
Alongside the exhibition, Penlee House will be running free family activities every Saturday afternoon from 2.30pm to 3.30pm. There is no need to book, just drop in and create a unique artwork to take home.
The exhibition will be displayed in all of the ground floor galleries, with a selection of Newlyn School paintings on display in Gallery 5.