Thursday, 25 August 2011

West Country art appreciation…

Many visitors to the West Country love to visit the countless art galleries in the area – full of the work of artists inspired by rugged landscapes, crashing waves and quaint fishing villages.

Artists have long been infatuated with the West Country. From the 1880s onwards, Newlyn, St Ives and the west Cornwall hinterland were firmly on the map as destinations for artists producing realistically observed marine and landscape paintings. The artists were collectively known as the Newlyn School.

Tate St Ives
It’s no wonder the West Country continues to inspire artists and art lovers. Tate St Ives is perhaps the most famous gallery, a treasure trove of modern and contemporary art, including the work of the St Ives Modernists. You can also visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden.

The Newlyn Gallery re-opened in 2007, alongside major new art space The Exchange, in the heart of Penzance. The gallery is home to a lively collective of over one hundred professional artists who either live in the South West or have strong connections with the area. 

Falmouth Art Gallery
Falmouth Art Gallery has one of the leading art collections in Cornwall and features work by old masters, major Victorian artists, British Impressionists, leading maritime artists and contemporary painters and printmakers.

Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery is notable for the Cottonian Collection, an outstanding art collection comprising oil paintings, Old Master and English drawings and watercolours, sculpture, furniture and ceramics, a library, Reynolds material and a collection of seven thousand or so fine prints.

Torre Abbey in Torquay collects 18th, 19th and 20th century landscape, marine and genre paintings by British artists, concentrating in particular on views of south Devon and its coastal waters, and works by local artists. 

If you’re a collector or looking for a memento, you can buy original paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, pottery and ceramics from one of the many smaller galleries such as the Lemon Street Gallery in Truro, Beside The Wave in Falmouth, the Marine House in Beer, D’Art Gallery in Dartmouth or The Appledore Crafts Company in Appledore.

There are also exhibition centres such as the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey on Dartmoor and the Craft Gallery at Dartington near Totnes where you can see, buy and learn about contemporary craft and design.

The Cot, St Just-in-Penwith
You can even admire original works of art without leaving the confines of your holiday home! The Byre in Roborough, is full of the artist owner’s work (some items for sale) and The Cot in St Just-in-Penwith also has the artist owner’s paintings adorning the walls. Magnificent Parnacott in Holsworthy is decorated with striking family portraits giving clues to its heritage, while Trolver Barn in Feock and Goose Cottage in Dunsford are both homes to some interesting contemporary pieces.

Even better, if you’re feeling inspired by your surroundings, why not grab a sketch pad and some watercolours or pencils and have a dabble yourself?