Since 2006, Cornwall Contemporary as held a prominent place in Penzance’s artistic community, welcoming its 15th year, this renowned gallery is still providing leading, contemporary art worldwide from its West Cornwall hub.
Residing at the top of Penzance town’s iconic Chapel Street, well-established gallery Cornwall Contemporary has been leading the way for the town’s artistic development since its opening 15 years ago. Opened by Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge, Cornwall Contemporary has long been bringing the paintings and sculptural work of Cornish artists to audiences from global locations.
“2020 was indeed a very strange and unprecedented year,” explains Gallery Director, Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge, “but we have been delighted to still be in regular touch with our artists and customers and have actually been fortunate to sell and ship out many paintings in this time. I’ve sent work out to Singapore, USA, Germany, and in fact I have just finished wrapping a painting that is due to be sent to Australia. Our paintings have certainly done more travelling than we have this past year!”
A large, spacious gallery comprising of three floors, a typical year sees the gallery holding a wide variety of exhibitions, focus shows and capsule collections. It’s a space that often captures the attention of visitors alone, with gorgeous views from the top floor window and plenty of space for tranquil viewing.
“When I was looking for a gallery space to buy all those years ago, I didn’t want a white box,” says Sarah, “I wanted something with character and people always respond really well to it.”
Despite the challenges over the last year, the gallery has still been striving to offer unique, captivating art whilst helping the wider community. In place of busy preview nights and bustling days with eager art explorers, collectors and enthusiasts gracing Cornwall Contemporary’s walls, Sarah instead welcomed thousands of visitors online for a host of specially curated exhibitions,
“Working from home was certainly a different experience, but I really wanted to continue to support all my artists and of course, like everybody in the country, I felt a huge amount of gratitude towards the NHS and all our key workers, so I decided to stage an online charity exhibition, where a percentage of sales were donated to NHS charities.
“I was completely blown away by the amount of encouragement from our customers who wanted to support our artists and the NHS. In the end we raised over £4000 for the charity which was wonderful.”
The gallery’s reputation over the last fifteen years has grown into one that champions some of Cornwall’s leading contemporary artists on a national level, with a broad variety of mediums ranging from landscape and still like to abstract and surreal portraiture. In 2019, Sarah was selected as a trade ambassador by the Department for Trade, which saw Cornwall Contemporary reach international recognition amongst the creative industry,
“We are proud to have become known for showing exciting, quality, unique works of art,” describes Sarah. “The gallery has built its reputation on representing nationally and internally known artists mainly based in Cornwall, but I do also show work by artists from further afield.
“Kristin Vestgard, who has a solo exhibition of her exquisite portraits with us this year, actually lives in Norway, but studied at Falmouth College of Art.”
The first solo exhibition of Cornwall Contemporary’s 2021 season is ‘Water’, featuring the works of Neil Pinkett, set to open from the end of March.
“Neil has produced some stunning paintings of the sea, rivers and canals around Cornwall, painted from clifftops, beaches and also his boat,” she explains. “We are excited and hopeful that we will be able to open our doors to the public again for that exhibition, and we can’t wait to see everyone and to share these very special paintings. After that opening show, we have a number of mixed shows lined up for 2021, with exciting solo exhibitions from Kirstin, Alasdair Lindsay, David Mankin and Paul Lewin.”
Sarah prides herself on her close relationships with her artists, many of whom have been members of Cornwall Contemporary since the very beginning and have transformed from exciting emerging artists into well-established figures that customers retain a key interest in long after their paintings have reached forever homes. There’s also a rich selection of high-quality makers present too, with ceramicists, sculptors and jewellers also displaying their work throughout the year. This year, Sarah has also introduced a few new elements for the gallery,
“This year, in addition to featuring our painters on our website and filming more 3D virtual tours of the exhibitions, we are busy behind the scenes working on adding a special section to our website which showcases work by our makers, so watch this space.”
It was Penzance’s community that drew Sarah to open a gallery there, and since then Cornwall Contemporary has been an integral member of the town’s creative infrastructure. Today, Sarah is still delighted to call Penzance home,
“I chose to open a gallery in Penzance all those years ago as I wanted to be in a thriving town with an all-year-round population, rather than have a huge influx of tourist visitors in summer, and then quieter winter months. Penzance hasn’t disappointed and I especially love being near Chapel Street, which has a wonderful and eclectic selection of independent lifestyle shops, and of course there’s the wonderful Jubilee Pool.”
With a hopeful outlook on the year ahead, Cornwall Contemporary is looking to bring just as much culture and artistic creation to the community as always and led by a dedicated team, will be honouring its 15th year in style,
“I am hugely grateful and thankful to do the job that I do,” describes Sarah, “I love working with artists who are my friends and I have a fantastic gallery team behind me in Maggie, Jess and Emma.”
To find out more about the gallery, including virtual tours, exhibitions and more, visit www.cornwallcontemporary.com
Tel: 01736 874749
1 Parade Street
Opening Times (Please check in advance due to national lockdowns and restrictions):
Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm