Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

Events Gallery

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Penzance Literary Festival Fringe at Penlee House

Here at Penlee we were very pleased to be involved with the 2015 Penzance Literary Festival.  As part of a programme of 'fringe' events, we hosted a poetry workshop for adults run by award-winning poet Katrina Naomi.  The workshop focused on using the amazing paintings at Penlee as inspiration for writing poems.  We also had 'a pocketful of poems' in the gallery; pockets full of ideas for writing inspired by Penlee and its collections.  Here are some of the results: 

A day In Their Life

Jill Haywood

A time in the past we do not know,

The evidence in pictures is there to show.

Their life, the people and the clothes they wore.

Their work, their earnings, their scenery and their shore,

The children's toys simplistic but dear,

Their work contribution, clean the glass clear.

The young education all hats must be worn,

Be grateful for learning, behave or be scorned.


Old women with fish, decisions to make,

Which is yours? Which is mine? Please place your stake.

Tears of young wives, their husbands lost,

The toils of the fishermen, their lives, its cost.


The weather, when sunny, the country views,

The sunlight, the skyline, the tones and the hues,

The greens and blues of the land and sea,

Against the pale, pallor skins of the locals to be.

The rain beaten faces, the storm torrent waves,

The greys of the storm's water pounding the paves.

Whether Taylor or Forbes, Meade or Stokes,


They've captured these lives with their square tipped strokes.

So take a visit to the Cornish Light,

Allow yourself to take in the sight,

And you will be there, a long time ago,

To a time in the past you now will know


After 'The Rain it Raineth Every Day'

Frank Webber

Well it was last week, me and the daughter had just dodged into a shop out of the rain wouldn't be in there normally it sold paints and brushes you know, artist's stuff. Anyway, this man came up and asked if we'd model for him, me! Of all people! Anyway, he said it would be alright and he'd pay a shilling for our time, well, I thought I'd take a chance, things are tight, what with my husband gone and all.

We went to his house, there was a big room upstairs, with a window, he said it was his studio full of half finished paintings, brushes, paints a lot of it on the walls, he had two lovely dogs and all. He showed me a half finished painting of the Sea front, I thought, I know just where that is. I used to clean in some of those big buildings quite near the church it was.

Anyway he said we were going to be in the painting and he needed to draw us first sort of get the right size I suppose, we had to stand facing him, I had an open umbrella behind me, over one shoulder, the girl in front of me had to look straight at the man, and not move. After what seemed hours he got me to stand on my own, more or less facing away from him, still with the open umbrella over one shoulder; eventually he'd finished and showed us the drawings, he'd put some paint on but they weren't finished like, he also showed where in the picture we'd be, and paid me a shilling, and a penny for the daughter, she was so pleased.

As we left we thought it would be fun to find the exact spot on the promenade where we stood in the painting; I couldn't find it exactly as the buildings didn't seem to be in exactly the same places as in the painting! I suppose artists do that to suit their picture or something.

Anyway, it was still raining, seems like it does every day, sea breaking over the railing so we found a shelter and had a piece of cake to celebrate; as I sat there I thought there was something funny about the umbrellas first off, I was shielding the rain from behind me, with the daughter; second off facing the other way the umbrella was shading rain from the other direction, anyway round here knows the wind almost always comes from the south west from the Scillies! I think he was a foreigner and didn't know this!

The Quarry Team

Molly Clemens, aged 12

Down the everlasting road,

Clip, Clop, Clip, Clop,

That's the sound the Horses made,

In their aim to reach home.

In the distance you could see tiny bird,

You can hear them singing a merry tune,

All farms around could hear them sing,

This was a sweet song, as sweet as flowers.

Behind you, there were walkers marching here and there,

Making loud, bang, bash, bang, bash sounds,

This was with there large boots,

They would be heard all over town!

When There's Life There's Hope

Molly Clemens, Aged 12

Wa, Wa, Wa, wailed a new born in a basket,

Clip clop, went horses galloping down the road,

We tried to calm the baby,

But she wouldn't.

We told the neighbour to quieten the horse,

But this wouldn't happen.

Then the wind swept up,

The pots and pans rattled,

And the little child got more restless.

Then the wind stopped,

The horse stopped,

And so did the Baby.

All was silent!

Sharing Fish

It's difficult sometimes to know what's best, she

can't make up her mind what she wants.

Once these two have decided then we can get on with it

I want to go home Mum.

Across the Harbour

Look with One eye, can you see your brother?

When are they going out to Sea?

'They are becalmed my beauty'

Childhoods Treasures

Which one can I have? Shh you will wake them.

This one's mine, are they boys or girls,

They're puppies!

Dogs Conversation:

I think they're going to be lovely to us, hope so.

'Where's our Mum gone?'

The Harbour Bar

By Henry E.G Field

There once was a young man from Par,

Who came to Penlee for a pint at the Harbour Bar,

But while he was waiting he realised it was a painting,

So he left to by a six pack from the Spar.

Inspired by 'A Hopeless Dawn'

Candlelight flickers

soft glow quicker

than any rolling tear

Woven gown draped in folds

while aged gull holds

a weeping child

Yes, a child in face

Cast from gentle lace

Yet married still

Married to a fallen man

Who, though sodden can,

Bring love to a weeping child.

The magic garden

By Ida Corner, age 8

The magic garden comes and

goes, all made by a sparkling

rose. The rose shreds gold

from time to time, but its

thorns become sharper as

it climes. The bees in the

garden like that rose, and

gather magic when it grows. 

The bees make honey in

their hive, from  the pollon of

lavenda, originaly from St Ives.

beside the hive is a nest, belonging

to all the ants, who's jobs are to

find sugar, and travel to

Penzance. I found that

magic garden, and travelled

with the ants. I travelled

with them very far, right to

Penzance. I found that

magic garden, and made

honey with the bees, and

found lavenda in the garden, just beside some trees.

In the distance

By Ida Corner, age 8

In the distance, there's a road

that's very windy and goes on and

on and on and on the road. There's

a child that's very winy and goes on

and on and on.


By Ida Corner, age 8

Raindrops, raindrops, falling on my head

why do you feel so cold, like the rushing of the wind

like the splashes of snow when they melt?

Why do you feel so wet

like when you jump into the shower?

Why do you feel so nice

like the freshness of when you've got out of the bath?

Like the sweetness of an ice cream Sunday?

Thoughts on How we caught the Pilchards, 1885, by Charles Napier Hemy

 Men shouting

Water splashing

Gulls screeching

Boys reaching

Sails creaking

Wind howling

Waves crushing

Fish flapping

The sound of the sea

The relentless enemy

The place where we

Feel free!

Inspired by The Quarry Team, 1894, by Stanhope Forbes

By Penny Shields

 A carrier's life is a hard one

Driving horses- there's no sun

Working hard from morn to night

Harnessed horses- what a sight

Inspired by Twilight, also known as Homeward Bound, 1891, by Fred Hall 

By Penny Shields

Work is over for the day

Rake over shoulder, bag in hand

The maid passes through flowered meadow

Whilst cattle stand, stacks show

A successful day, as working days go.

Inspired by The Drinking Pool, 1895, by John Arnesby Brown

By Penny Shields

 A peaceful scene, cows drink their fill

Evening skies above winter trees

You could hear their feet in the water

Causing ripples on the breeze.

Inspired by A Cornish Orchard, 1893, by Frank Richards

By Penny Shields

An old cart by the tree of blossom

Whilst ducks tread the path beneath

Water trickles peacefully over stones

Life eternal, never to cease.

Inspired by February, 1893, by William Banks Fortescue

By Penny Shields

The dog in front is so striking

Leading lady with bracken. Full cart

Winter surrounds them, muddy road

A companionable trio,

A donkey pulls the load.

Inspired by An Old Pilot by Walter Langley

By Penny Shields

As he looks out, with experienced eyes

A wealth of knowledge held within

The sight of sea and sailing ships

The seriousness of life, on his lips.

Inspired by A volunteer for the Lifeboat, 1891, by Dorothy Webb Robinson

By Penny Shields

A lad steps forward, bravely he volunteers

Stormy seas around, lives to save

His mother, worried, No, she cries

Yet, more families will have tears in their eyes

For ever, lives are taken by the restless waves.

Collision of time in a single moment?  

By Felicity Tattersall - inspired by Two Nibbles by Henry Harewood Robinson

A line to the past,

A long lean into the present

Arm rest reverie

Gripping finger support whilst my crows nest bobs away

Clanking, gulls cry, the tang of corroding saltiness

Furtive jolt from my belly

Does the sea smell queasy?

Internal hidden industry nibbles away

I watch the premonition of heavily cargoed, laden boats arrive in port,

teeming with energy

And awake,

Breath sharply, smooth down my dress

Only a secret stare to the near future


By Christine Curtis - a response to Across the Harbour, 1892, by Frank Wright Bourdillon

Everyday she's down Granfer's garden -

never mind me

with three more girls than 'er

to put clean clothes on their backs,

food on their plates.

Dinner's stewing on the slab

or where's the next meal comin' from?


Come 'ome yesterday soakin' wet,

'er clothes drip-dripin'

as the candle shivered so thin

I couldn't stitch and mend no more.

I 'ad to stop and face the waves of dark

batterin' my kitchen,

the tide we still hope will bring

his old boots back to scatter fish scales

over my new rag rug.

Find her inner red

By Christine Curtis - a response to The Jubilee Hat, 1887, by Frank Wright Bourdillon

I fight for the right of red

amongst the dreer of grey,

the toil of black,

brown which wears well

and wipes its feet at the door.


I could make this whole room sing

not just whisper on her jubilee hat,

flame her from shoulder to ankle;

never let her sun set but shimmer

scarlet, carmine, crimson

to fill every shadow of her life

with the secret colour

of her arteries.

The Cornish Sea-side

By Robert Gibbs

The endless blue sky is bliss

While the waves boom and hiss

The sea a shade of turquoise

And me, a frolicking porpoise

Blond children and bronzed grandparents

Civil servants and city gents

We're all innocents here

On the Cornish riviera.


By Mo

Oh! how wonderful these Paintings

How wonderful they are, from

The Old Pilot (1884) til Uncle Dick

The poor woman from A hopeless dawn (1888)

losing her fisherman husband, and the

poor parents losing their sick child of

the picture Where there's life there's hope

A day in the life of anyone,

Is a hard choice to choose,

Would you be a celebrity, go to Timbuktu?

Or would you just be you? 

A day in the life of anyone,

Is an unlikely choice to make,

It is a gamble on where you could end up,

But it is up to you. 

oh to be a Narwhal

A Narwhal's never glum

He swims amongst the fish

In oceans wild and deep

The spike he has upon his head

Makes up for having no feet