Penwith Society of Arts

Penwith Society of Arts

Penwith Art Gallery,
Back Road West, St. Ives, TR26 1NL
Tel: (01736) 795579


Full of great pictures

The Penwith Society of Arts is an art group formed in St. Ives, in early 1949 by abstract artists who broke away from the more conservative St. Ives School. It was originally led by Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, and included members of the Crypt Group of the St. Ives Society, including Peter Lanyon and Sven Berlin. Other early members included: Leonard Fuller, Alexander Mackenzie, John Wells, Bryan Wynter, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, David Haughton, Denis Mitchell, and the printer Guido Morris. Herbert Read was invited to be the first president.

The group bought fishing lofts along Porthmeor beach to use as artists' studios, after an acrimonious split from the established St. Ives Society of Artists. Then on 8th February 1949, after a town meeting at the Castle Inn, a dissident group set up shop in Fore street. In 1960 and old pilchard factory was taken over with converted studios above. In 1967 Kathleen Watkins was appointed curator and secretary (1967-2013) of the society advising, among other things, clients on potential purchases.

In 1970 adjacent property became available, and the artist members, assisted by Barbara Hepworth, sought funds to create the present group of galleries, studios and workshops. To take on the task of maintaining its buildings and workshops, to arrange the programme of exhibitions and execute the gallery business the Penwith Galleries Ltd. was created. This is now a management body and a public charity.

It now presents a full programme of exhibitions by members and associates of the society, together with featured exhibitions by artists from Cornwall and elsewhere.


In the back road behind all the shops.

Opening Times

Monday to Saturday
10.00am - 5.30pm

Admission Free

Barbara Hepworth Museum       Leach Pottery       Newlyn Society of Artists       Tate Gallery

Cornish Art Galleries       St. Ives       St. Ives Museum       St. Ives Society of Artists