reopening of this hundred year old building,
with its new extension, makes it all the
more important to spotlight the exhibition policy of this gallery,
which is a registered charity under the control
of its trustees.
In recent years there has been widespread and keenly felt discontent
amongst a broad section of the public who hitherto nurtured a close
interest in the gallery, many of whom have become alienated by the
policies of the past decade, feeling that things have gone importantly
astray and that the valuable wall-space has been usurped, to be used in
ways far from those proper for the gallery. The latter considerations are
defined in the gallery's well-nigh unique bequest as being essentially for
the benefit of artists working in west Cornwall.
Under the Lease recently come
into effect, there are to be regular discussions of exhibition policy and
other matters between the director with members of the management and
trustee panels. It has already been agreed that a new climate of
cooperation between these bodies is established, and that this should now
be carried forward.
There is a provision written into the constitution that makes possible an
element of education. However, it is self-evident that this should not be
used as a loophole to corrupt or undermine the true intentions for the
gallery, as has happened extensively over the past decade when the
professional ambition of those involved have
sometimes taken precedence over the gallery's limitations, connected
intimately with the specific artistic history of Newlyn.
Fortunately, there is now every indication that the new director, James
Green, is sufficiently able and imaginative to embrace within the legally
binding conditions under which he must work, perimeters for a series of
first rate exhibitions. He appears to be open-minded and has now been in
the area long enough to visit by invitation artists’ studios in order to
discuss ways of including the best work being produced in the area into
his now developing programme.
Seen in its long-term perspective, exhibiting at the Gallery has always
been competitive, with rival factions and individuals contending keenly
for the available limited space; views severely at variance one with
another about what it is valid to exhibit have always been asserted. The
creative battlefield which stretches into the future now
involves an area
more fundamental than conflicts of artistic styles; it involves as a
positive factor the gallery's essential restricted and regional nature,
the true raison d’etre of this fine building.
Although the trustees are determined to come to grips with the reality of
this situation, in the long run it is a question that will be
the active participation of the artists and the public. By
joining the Gallery (£12.50 p.a) you have a voice and a vote in its