Tony Giles in West Cornwall: Penlee Gallery
Tony Giles (1925 – 1994) was born in one of the railway workers’ terrace cottages near to the extensive railway yards in Taunton, Somerset. His father was an engine driver for the Great Western Railway, often taking the London train from Taunton down to Penzance and back. In school holidays Tony would travel free in the leading carriage and he never forgot the thrill of those journeys or the magic of being in Cornwall. He left school at sixteen and trained as a cartographer at the Admiralty Hydrographic Office near Taunton. He did his national service in the Royal Marines, charting the seas around Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
In 1961 he achieved his dream of living in Cornwall, joining the planning department at County Hall, Truro. With his second wife Hilary he lived in St Agnes, where they created a fantasy garden. Tony made the rolling stock for the gauge 1 model railway that ran around the garden, through tunnels and over viaducts. He painted compulsively all his life, railway lines disappearing into the countryside, the landscapes shaped by the clay and mining industries, viaducts, harbours and chapels. His favourite harbour was Porthleven and he had a special love for the Penwith peninsula.
“Tony always enjoyed a day down west,” says John Branfield, co-curator of the exhibition. “He loved and understood its distinctive character, which he expressed in these playful, joyous and idiosyncratic paintings and drawings.”
This one-room exhibition of Tony’s West Cornwall works will be on display upstairs in Gallery 5 until 17 April.
Exhibition runs until 17 April 2021. Booking is essential.
Penlee House is owned and operated by Penzance Council.