Cornwall

Creative Connections Cornwall 

18 June – Sat 17 September 2022

The Exchange, Penzance  

Creative Connections Cornwall - An exhibition at The Exchange, Penzance

Creative Connections Cornwall is a project about people and place in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange and Mount’s Bay Academy in Penzance.

The project connects young people from Cornwall with the award-winning artist, Joy Gregory, to explore the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection. Together, Joy Gregory and the students collaboratively responded to portraits of notable people from or with links to Cornwall and Penzance.

The chosen works range from photography to painting and drawing, and include portraits by artists such as Michael Ayrton, Terry Frost, Yvonne Gregory, John Hedgecoe, E. O. Hoppé, Ida Kar, Sebastian Kim, Man Ray and Madame Yevonde. Sitters include Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Gluck, Barbara Hepworth, Helen Glover, William Golding, D.H. Lawrence, Daphne du Maurier and Harold Wilson.

During an initial visit to Mount’s Bay Academy in May 2021, the students selected portraits from the Gallery’s Collection. The young people’s choices were based on aesthetic considerations – did they like the portrait image – and whether they felt interested in an individual’s biography, but also addressed issues like representation and language. Their final selection of portraits includes painters, writers, potters, actors, politicians, athletes, musicians and more, and forms the starting point for the exhibition, which will be shown to the public for the first time at The Exchange this summer. Together with Joy Gregory, the now Year 10 students have made new work, exploring the shared themes and connections between those portrayed in selected artworks and the students themselves. They looked at how these might be linked to localities in Cornwall and the places the young people are growing up in. The results from this collaboration are shown alongside the portraits from the Collection that inspired them.

Joy Gregory’s practice is concerned with social and political issues with particular reference to history and cultural differences in contemporary society. As a photographer, she makes full use of the media from video, digital and analogue photography to Victorian print processes and has a strong interest in portraiture, archives, and representation. Her 2019 portrait commission Breaking Barriers for example draws inspiration from 16th and 17th century portraits to showcase the excellence present in Britain’s Black communities today, but also to show others what can be achieved. Joy Gregory’s work also features in Life Between Islands at Tate Britain (until May 2022) and at Royal Albert Memory Museum in Exeter (In Plain Sight: Transatlantic slavery and Devon, also until May 2022).