Penlee House Gallery & Museum is kicking off the new year with a spectacular photographic exhibition the celebrates the lives of the people of West Cornwall.

In their largest photo exhibit to date, Celebrating Work and Play: Photographic Gems from Penlee’s Archives, delves into Penlee House’s extensive photographic archive to show 130 images covering a variety of themes captured by both amateur and professional photographers in the early days of Victorian era such as Gibson & Sons and Robert Preston. The exhibition will also feature images from press photographer Harry Penhaul from the 1940s – 50s and more recents works from the likes of Phil Monckton and Vince Bevan.

Geevor Tin Miners, 1920

Covering over 150 years of photography, visitors will be able to not only see Cornwall and the lives of its people change drastically throughout each era, but also witness the leaps and bounds the realm of photography experienced as it entered into the 19th and 20th centuries. The earliest image of the exhibition dates at 1858, whilst the most recent is from 2011.

Some of the most heartwarming and striking images are the candid shots that show men, women and children at work in key Cornish industries of fishing, farming and mining. These are juxtaposed by the images of people at play, enjoying days out on the beach, tea treats, parties, theatre and the cinema. This theme includes some enigmatic works from 1930s photographer Geraldine Underell, a relatively unknown photographer.

Turkey Farming by Harry Penhaul

Penlee’s archive is an invaluable resource to the history and heritage of West Cornwall, preserving and savouring the richness of Cornwall’s culture and memories of its former residents. Celebrating Work and Play truly is an exhibition of Penlee’s photographic gems and a long awaited show set to delight visitors and photographic enthusiasts alike.

Not to mention, if you’re on the look out for an early (or very late) gift, then many of the images are available for reproduction, and can be printed and shipped to any address in the UK.

Leapfrog. Circa 1950

Celebrating Work and Play: Photographic Gems from Penlee’s Archives, opens on 11th January until the 14th March 2020 and will be displayed in all of the ground floor galleries, with a selection of Newlyn School paintings on display in Gallery 5.

Alongside the exhibition, Penlee House will be running free family activities every Saturday afternoon from 2.30 – 3.30pm. There is no need to book, just drop in and create a unique artwork to take home.

All images copyrighted by Penlee House.

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