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Must-visit art galleries in Cornwall

Indulge your senses with our round-up of the most stylish and stirring spaces across the county
Penwith Gallery
Photograph by Sophie Fraser

Cornwall has inspired many a school of art, especially in and around St Ives, for its irresistible landscape and quality of light. Indulge your senses with our round-up of the most stylish and stirring art galleries in Cornwall

Penwith Gallery, St Ives 

As home of the Penwith Society of Arts – founded by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Sven Berlin among others – Penwith Gallery is a beacon of British art. The multi-storey building was formerly a pilchard packing factory, and now comprises a complex floorplan to enjoy losing yourself in, including three public galleries, the Porthmeor Printmakers Workshop, ten artists’ studios, a sculpture courtyard, shop and archive. There’s always something exciting going on, and the year-round programme hosts both contemporary and historical exhibitions. Visit to see the gallery’s permanent jewel, Hepworth’s glorious Magic Stone.

Jackson Foundation Gallery, St Just-in-Penwith

This contemporary, carbon-negative art space has been crowned Cornwall’s Best Art Gallery by Muddy Stilettos three times running, so you know you’re in for a memorable visit. Exploring the relationship between art and nature, Jackson Foundation Gallery is housed within a massive ex-industrial building in the thriving former mining town of St Just-in-Penwith.

Co-founder and residing artist Kurt Jackson’s own art is varied and eclectic – everything from painting to poetry, sculpture to installation – and his vision when starting the gallery with his wife Caroline was to host an annual programme of exhibitions of his own work as well as that of other artists in partnership with environmental and non-profit organisations. It’s free to visit, and husband-and-wife-team Fynn and Zinzi Tucker share the management of the space, eager to welcome all to examine the world through the artist’s lens. 

Morgans Falmouth, art galleries in Cornwall

Morgans Falmouth 

Relatively new on the scene is Morgans, a five-storey gallery in the centre of Falmouth, with views over Customs House Quay and the harbour to Flushing.

The family-run business opened in 2021 after owners Ann Morgan and Tony Holmes redesigned the building, peeling back the layers to open rooms up as well as adding a glass-ceilinged atrium to the central courtyard, creating a light-filled space that sings. The couple run the gallery with their daughters, Martha, Ella and Clara (artists in their own right) to curate a wide range of creative disciplines encouraging young and emerging talent alongside well-known names. The gallery space is complemented by artist studios, two potteries and the Courtyard Store – where you can choose something to display in your own home.

Tate St Ives 

Most people’s first thought when it comes to Cornwall art galleries, Tate St Ives is a must-see beyond the moniker. The building itself is a draw, with the recognisable white curves and bold columns (which were based on the style of the gas works originally on the site) outlining the famous rotunda overlooking Porthmeor Beach. Inside, you’ll find work by modern British artists connected to St Ives and West Cornwall, such as Alfred Wallis to Marlow Moss, alongside a diary of international exhibitions from the likes of Outi Pieski and Beatriz Milhazes. It’s one of the most-visited attractions in the UK for good reason.  

New Craftsman gallery

New Craftsman Gallery, St Ives

Known for the role it played in fostering the British Modernism movement and the St Ives School, the New Craftsman Gallery is forever connected to artists such as Peter Lanyon, Bryan Winter, Patrick Heron and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. It was founded in 1962 by potter Janet Leach (wife of the ‘father of British studio pottery’ Bernard Leach) who started out displaying ceramics and interior design objects from the likes of Eames before welcoming emerging painters. Today, the gallery continues to influence and inspire under the direction of Ylenia Haase who has introduced other disciplines from automata to handmade jewellery, sculptures to metalwork.

The gallery’s unassuming entrance tucked behind the harbour (at the foot of the hill that leads from Fore Street to the Barbara Hepworth Museum) opens up across two floors. Time your visit to coincide with the September Festival – it’s one of the highlights in the New Craftsman calendar. 

Cornwall Contemporary, Penzance

Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge’s modern gallery opened at the top of Penzance’s Chapel Street in 2006 and quickly established an international reputation. As an art expert and author, Sarah’s emphasis is on Cornish creativity whether that’s paintwork, sculpture or ceramics. Cornwall Contemporary is set over three bright-yet-calm floors, with monthly changing exhibitions (plus the resident dog, Fidget) at ground level, as well as gallery artists and special collections featured up the stairs, along with wonderful views of the Penzance rooftops. Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves), Neil Pinkett, Maggie Matthews and David Mankin are just a handful of the regular artists on display.

Sarah runs an Own Art scheme where you can spread the cost of your favourite piece over a number of interest-free installments for an affordable way in to the art market.

Livingstone St Ives

Livingstone St Ives

From St Ives to Clifton (and as of very recently, Truro) Livingstone St Ives is a modern, multi-location gallery focusing on the next generation of leading artists working in the St Ives tradition.

The original site, located in a former pilchard press on Westcotts Quay, overlooks the bay and is a beautiful place to while away the day, taking in the work of Cornish-based artists such as Nina Brooke, Justine Eavis and David Pearce. The new Truro gallery at 9 Lemon Street opens with ‘Force of Nature’ by Jack Davis – a collection of paintings inspired by the sea and sky – it’s hard to imagine a more quintessentially Cornish exploration.

CIRCLE Gallery, A39, near Wadebridge

From Hawksfield on the Atlantic Highway, gallery directors Lucy Thorman and artist John O’Carroll bring their eclectic approach to creative expression to north Cornwall.

CIRCLE showcases a diverse range of contemporary art from local and international artists, and the style is set by a select group including Australian artist Amy Wright, Serbian printmaker Jelena Sredanović and Cornish painter Sax Impey, who live and work in the countryside or on the coast – very much rooted in nature. ‘From a city dwellers perspective, landscape-inspired art practice is often dismissed as romantic and unquestioning,’ say Lucy and John. ‘However, at CIRCLE we believe art born from a true dialogue with nature is life affirming, ever present and continually evolving.’

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