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Not just the Artists in Cornwall but also the workers
The second and current exhibition at the architecturally exquisite Two Temple Place revolves around Cornwall and its industries. You may be forgiven for thinking that the primary occupation west of the Tamar used to be fishing, but this collection of art works and artefacts will also remind you of the roles played by mining, quarrying and farming.
Downstairs you will be able to immerse yourself in the lives of sailors, as well as others who were involved in catching the fish and shellfish and then selling the catch on. There is a huge sense of movement in many of the paintings; fishing boats are out at sea, or coming in to land, the waves are swelling and the clouds are heavy in the sky. If you concentrate long enough you will be able to smell the salt and hear the seagulls.
To accompany the paintings and give you a greater perspective on the lives of the coastal dwellers and workers, there is a winding frame for handling the mackerel or herring, a pilchard cask stencil, examples of gurries and pressing stones and even a haul-tow oyster dredger named Irene. In addition there is information about the different kinds of fishing nets, such as seine and tuck nets.
Tucking a School of Pilchards by Percy Robert Craft (Image Courtesy of twotempleplace.org)
Exhibited on the upstairs landing are portraits of local working people, all posed and painted out in the open, and not in the studio.
The final part of the exhibition is concerned with industries carried out away from the sea. There are paintings of tin and copper mines, farm labouring and granite quarries. Again these are further illustrated by a mining cart, a wheelbarrow and needles used for making and repairing fishing nets.
Of course you can stop to admire the amazing architecture and stained glass windows, as many visitors were doing, and you can come back again and again to this free exhibition, which also teaches you about the past lives of working Cornish people.