Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday spots in the UK, famous for its picturesque coastal towns and breathtaking beaches. Travellers are tempted by both sandy seaside vistas and historical villages embedded in verdant valleys. However, Cornwall has much more to offer than its natural beauty. In fact, it is also one of the most vibrant hotspots for artists in the country – with a larger concentration of creatives than can be found anywhere else, even in London.
For centuries, artists like Langley and Turner have found inspiration in this region, succumbing to its magnetism and atmosphere. The proximity of the sea lends Cornwall a unique light, rich with refracted rays and saturated colours. More than that, the pace of life here feels simpler and more relaxed, with plenty of space for the muse to strike. Add the rich past and many historic landmarks that Cornwall has to offer, and you have a potent mix of inspiration that no artist can resist.
We consulted the local experts at Luxury Coastal on their top picks for art galleries in the region. Here are their favourites.
Tate St Ives
To begin with, the Tate St Ives is perhaps the most famous art museum in Cornwall. Built in 1988 in the place of an old gasworks with a view of Porthmeor beach, it offers a unique architectural appeal. On display, you will see work by modern artists from Britain, all of whom have links to the area of St Ives. In addition, the gallery has a large variety of pieces situated in iconic locations with a vista of the Atlantic. Absolutely worth a visit!
The Customs House Gallery in Porthleven
Up next, the Customs House Gallery in Porthleven is a Grade II Listed Building in the village’s historic harbour side. It houses an eclectic collection of creations by prolific Cornish artists. In the surrounding area, you’ll be able to enjoy a large variety of pubs including some of the oldest pubs in England and award-winning restaurants. Not in the mood for sitting down to eat? Hop across the road to Dan Dan The Lobster Man and try their mouth-watering prawn sarnies.
Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
Located in the midst of Newlyn’s bustling fishing harbour, the Newlyn Art Gallery has been displaying delighting art overs since 1895. Today, it is home to a rich collection of contemporary art, from textiles and ceramics to paintings and mixed media. Since 2007, it also has a sister site, The Exchange, in Penzance. If you fancy a coffee break and a view of Mount’s Bay, nip over to the Garden Café, a quirky establishment in a converted shipping container.
Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn & The Exchange, Penzance
Last but not least, Penlee House, in the parkland of Penzance, offers visitors the chance to discover paintings by St Ives artists from 1880 to 1940, as well as the work of members of the Newlyn School. Not only has this gallery won multiple tourism awards, it also boasts the lovely Orangery Café, which is a haven for visitors to reflect on their impressions over a scone and a cup of tea.