Tucked away amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants on Marazion’s main road is a one of Cornwall’s top treasure troves of artworks namely the Market House Gallery. From the front it looks small but behind the front doors lies a glorious aray of Cornish and Northern English artworks produced by some of both locations best artists.
The Market House Gallery, which came into existence in July 2007, is operated by Paul Longthorne, who also runs the Furnlea Gallery in St Ives. Paul’s background is a wide-ranging as the artworks on display within the deceptively large interior.
“I was born in Lancashire in 1960 and I’ve had a very varied career. I worked in sales, finance and latterly I worked in the petrol industry,” says Paul. “It was during this time I developed my interest in art.”
Paul was still living in northern England but was travelling to Cornwall several times each year. “This helped peak my interest as there’s so many galleries and artists here,” he says. “I spent a lot of time walking round looking at the art and I then started collecting.”
The Market House Gallery was one of the first galleries he came to when he visited the area about 12 years ago, although it went by another name at the time. “It was run by a chap called John Grimble. I ended up buying a piece of Troika from him that same day. As it happens when I took over the gallery this piece was the first piece I sold.”
“In 2007 the gallery became available to rent and I moved down here,” said Paul. “I put my collection into the gallery to start it off. It was quite an eclectic Cornish mix of work, both old and new. So I probably had 100 to 150 works at that time and that’s how it all started. I had no experience in running a gallery. I’d been in sales, but I’d never done anything like this.”
Paul’s interests lay in post war Cornish and English work including Terry Frost, Fred Yates, Tony Giles, Bryan Pearce, Jo Watkins and Roger Hilton, all of them familiar names. “At this gallery we show about 140 artists work including about seven sculptors. Some of the work I own and some is supplied by the artist we represent. So we’ve probably got around 40 to 45 contemporary artists”.
The Market House Gallery also displays modern British art. “We have the likes of Felix Topolski, Lynn Chadwick, Roy Turner-Durrant and Lawrence Isherwood,” says Paul. “I’ve kept my hand in with northern artists.”
“What I’ve found over the years is that you’ve got to continually re-invent yourself,”
Paul explains about how he goes about adding more names and more facets to the business. “Over the last 12 to 18 months we’ve added quite a lot of new suppliers of glass work including Peter Laydon, Norman Stuart Clark and Stuart Akroyd and Bob Crooks – all well known for their glass work.”
The price tags attached to the art on show, like that in many of the better known galleries, is often seen as prohibitive for many who would like to collect. Paul tells me how they’ve signed up to the Own Art scheme supported by the Arts Council. “It is an interest free way of buying contemporary art. It is supported by the Arts Council…this makes art more accessible and more affordable,” he explains (see boxout in Arts and Performance).
“We do shows about two or three times a year and move works between here and Fernlea Gallery in St Ives,” says Paul. The galleries range of works is quite broad, from paintings to sculpture, from Jewellery to Troika. There’s also 50 and 60s furniture by Gordon Russel and Robert Heritage. “We try to keep the gallery as eclectic and interesting as we can. We are totally different than a lot of the galleries in the work we actually offer,” says Paul.
Wandering around the gallery with Paul, I notice a few pieces of abstract work that look familiar. A label beside the pieces reveals the artist to be Tracey Hunter. I pointed out that Tracey had produced a cover for myCornwall back in 2011.
“That’s right,” says Paul “I bought the magazine and thought ‘I like this’. There was no one else doing this kind of work. We contacted Tracey and she’s now one of our best selling artists. Cubist work, it’s different…it’s another facet we added on to our existing collection.”
Want to see more like this?
Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.