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


Creative Tensions: The Penwith Society of Arts 1949-1960 

Image: Box Factory Fire, 1948, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham 

© Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust  

Current exhibition: 14 September-16 November 2019


Creative Tensions: The Penwith Society of Arts 1949-1960 

Image: Box Factory Fire, 1948 Wilhelmina Barns-Graham ©Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust 

Running from the 14 September- 16 November 2019 is The Penwith Society of Arts 1949- 1960. 

In 1949, a group of artists broke away from the St Ives Society of Artists to found a new group, the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall. 

Seventy years on from this seismic event, this exhibition looks at the range of work produced by its founder members, many of them the greatest names of 20th century British art, including Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach and Ben Nicholson. 

It examines the impact that the St Ives rebels made at the time and the creative tensions that existed between them.

A selection of Newlyn School paintings is on view upstairs in Gallery 5. 


Next exhibition: 23 November 2019 - 4 January 2020

Penzance Selects

Image: Elizabeth Forbes (1852-1912) - The Pied Piper, mixed media, Penlee House Gallery & Museum 
This winter, we’ve asked community groups and young people from our local area to curate the exhibition for us. Delving into the stores to find hidden gems to show alongside the more famous works, our collaborators will choose what’s most meaningful to them and bring a fresh perspective to the collection. Galleries 2, 3, 4 and 5. FREE ADMISSION


It is necessary to close some of the galleries between exhibitions, so please do check what is open before making a special journey during those times. Click here for 2019 dates

Not all the paintings are on show at any one time. If there is a particular picture that you would like to see, please let us know in advance of your visit or on the day.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the current brochure

CLICK HERE for past exhibitions