Arts & Culture
Cornish people have a proud history and a distinct identity. Cornwall’s history stretches back to the neolithic people around 2000BC with evidence of menhirs (standing stones) and burial chambers across the county. With bronze age sites, iron age hill forts and cliff castles there are plenty of open, historic sites offering interested visitors a glimmer of life in Cornwall thousands of years ago.
Unsurprisingly, Cornwall is steeped in myth and legend – the Beast of Bodmin, giants, piskies, Kings and Mermaids as well as menhirs and stone circles. Much Cornish mythology is rooted in the Cornish landscape and perhaps that is the reason Cornish people feel inextricably rooted to their heritage, even within Cornwall you can travel a short distance and feel in a completely different world.
In more recent times Cornwall has been known for its artistic talents from the 18th century portraitist Opie to Barbara Hepworth and entire schools of artists have established themselves in St Ives, Newlyn and other smaller villages. Literature has also been prominent with Daphne du Maurier and William Golding, who was born in Newquay. However, John Betjeman is perhaps Cornwall’s most famous adopted son. He wrote a motorists’ guide to the county in 1934, and a much loved poem about St Enodoc golf course near Polzeath.
Now, Cornwall feels full of creativity. In May over 300 artists across Cornwall open the doors to their studios, in Redruth you will find Krowji, Cornwall’s largest creative hub with 120 shared and self contained studio spaces and internationally renowned sculptors display their work at Tremenheere in 22 acres of exotic and sub-tropical gardens. The best of modern and contemporary art can be found in The Tate, St Ives and in most towns and villages you will find little galleries which are well worth visiting. Historic works from the renowned Newlyn school are curated at Penlee House, a first class gallery and museum set within an attractive park and Falmouth Art Gallery maintains an outstanding collection of over 2,000 works.
The Minack Theatre is the place to go for performing arts. From Shakespeare to Chekov, Lloyd Webber to Stoppard there is a full programme of excellent theatre as well as children’s theatre and story telling. A trip to the Newlyn Filmhouse for a Royal Opera and Royal Ballet performance or perhaps an art house film with a dinner of local Newlyn fish in the cinema’s Cafe Bar beforehand is also well worth a visit.
Cornwall also boasts a fine selection of wonderful festivals with major international artists you can pick from the Great Estate, Eden Sessions, Rock Oyster, Sundowner Sessions, Port Elliot, St Endellion, Boardmasters, Cornwall Folk Festival, Bude Jazz or The Little Orchard Cider Festival.