Summer in February: Art in Lamorna 1910 - 1914

Below Carn Barges (Cliffs Below Lamorna), oil on canvas | Robert Morson Hughes

I have escaped to the country (if only very briefly...) and today enjoyed a visit to Penlee House Gallery in Penzance. It is a particular favourite of my family and I, having been opened and supported in its early days by our relative, the painter R.T. Pentreath. Currently showing is a brilliant exhibition of art and ephemera linked to the book and soon to be released film Summer in February

In the early years of the twentieth century the Newlyn School art set shifted to Lamorna, a location that landscape painter Samuel John Birch became particularly associated with. Soon a collective of artists and models gathered there, including Alfred Munnings, his wife Edith Florence Carter-Wood, Charles Naper and Laura Knight.

It is the secret love between Edith Florence and the visiting Gilbert Evans that is contained in Jonathan Smith's novel, and their canvasses in this exhibition reflect the feelings, beauty and idealism of the place and that time. Is there a more vivid and wildly stunning location for falling in love than south west Cornwall? I became very nostalgic and proud of my homeland looking at the work. My heart will always be here with this formidable and astonishingly beautiful coastline.

Highlights for me were Edith Florence Munnings's watercolour The Moor, Harold Knight's refined portraiture, Charles Naper's stunning seascapes and Geoffrey Sneyd Garnier's exquisite aquatint print of Lamorna Cove.

It was wonderful to see male and female artists exhibited equally – side by side with no fuss. It is a refreshingly inclusive exhibition, curated with care and sensitivity. I highly recommend a visit to Penlee House Gallery for this fantastic set of paintings if you happen to be in the South West this summer. It is a generous collection of so many beautiful works. I haven't yet read Smith's novel, but after meeting the art, certainly plan to soon. And below is a taster of the film, in cinemas 14th June.

The Rain It Raineth Every Day, oil on canvass | Norman Garstin
Self-Portrait, oil on canvas | Dod Procter
Portrait of Florence Carter-Wood, oil on canvas | Harold Knight 
The Flower, oil on canvas | Laura Knight

Dinner Time (Ambrose Rouffignac in the Sail Loft, Newlyn), oil in canvas | Henry Scott Tuke

Self and Nude, oil on canvas | Laura Knight
Clifftop Thrift, oil on canvas | Charles Naper

Gulls in Newlyn Harbour, oil on canvas | Frank Gascoigne Heath

Summer in February: Art in Lamorna 1910 - 1914 shows until 8th June.


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