Then and Now: An Enchanted Landscape
17 January – 21 March 2015
Inspired by John Blight’s 1861 book, A Week at the Land’s End, the photographic exhibition follows in the footsteps of Penzance tourists of the 19th and early 20th century.
With its picturesque coastline, horse-drawn carriages and sprawling seafront hotels West Penwith came to be known by the Victorians as ‘an enchanted landscape’. Images on display at Penlee House span from the 1860s to the 1950s, revealing not only changes in architecture, transport and fashion, but also parts of the region that have remained the same. Included are rare pictures of West Penwith from some of the earliest photographic artists, such as John Branwell and Gibson & Sons.
One early tourism pioneer was James Richards who ran a four horse brake from Penzance to the Logan Rock and Land’s End during the 1870s. Photographers often took a photograph of the waiting passengers and would have the prints ready for their return. These pictures, along with contemporary travel guides and newspapers, give a fascinating insight into these early sightseeing tours.
The historic photographs are joined by a series of new work that was shot by members of Penlee’s Photographic Research Group – also the curators of the show. These were specially commissioned by the gallery to explore how the local landscape has altered over the last 150 years.