The son of William Henry (1866-1938) and Emily Jane (1858-1936), Snell was a well-known figure in both the local and artistic community of Newlyn. On leaving school he joined the family business 'W.H. Snell & Son, Sculptors, Carvers and Granite Merchants' (founded 1888), and learned the craft of monumental masonry. He also attended classes at the Penzance School of Art. From the start he loved the work; it became a consuming passion, more important to him than money, or even, at times, family life. His workshop was originally at the back of Foundry House, Newlyn and later moved to Gwavas Quay, near the Ice Works and Tom BATTEN's workshop.
Another workshop at Paul, near the Sheffield Quarry, was the granite source, and during the 1920s, when War Memorials were in great demand, a workshop was opened on the large site at the southern end of Alexandra Road. Among his friends were Stanhope FORBES, for whom he acted as model in his painting Fire at the Royal Exchange, John Drew MacKENZIE, Reginald Thomas DICK, Harold HARVEY and the GARNIERs, all frequent visitors to his workshop. Another friend was Alan Gairdner WYON, the Vicar of Newlyn from 1936, and an eminent sculptor and engraver.
Examples of Snell's work can be seen all over the United Kingdom and as far afield as Russia. He was also involved in the restoration of Madron Church in 1936, during which an 8th century inscribed stone was discovered, (now against the SW wall). During his career he produced many thousands of churchyard memorials throughout the country including those in Sancreed Churchyard to his friends from Newlyn - Geoffrey Sneyd GARNIER and Jill GARNIER, Stanhope FORBES and Maud FORBES, Thomas Cooper GOTCH and Gotch's daughter, Phyllis.
Monumental mason and sculptor.
works and access
Likenesses of the Artist: A photograph of the artist at work on a bust in wood can be seen in Berriman, H., Arts and Crafts in Newlyn 1890 ~ 1930, p.70, pl. 28 (Dr Lawrence L Snell)
Access to Work: Local examples include the West granite front of the Market Hall in Penzance (now Lloyds Bank), War Memorials at Newlyn, Penzance, Mousehole, Sancreed and the Macgregor Memorial at the top of the slip in Newlyn Town.
He also engraved many memorial tablets on slate, including several to the Bolitho family in Madron Church, the William Lovell memorial slate on the wall of the 'Smugglers', Newlyn Town, and the memorial to the crew of the lugger Mystery on the wall of the Seaman's Mission.
Local churches have many examples of his art - altars at St Levan and St Hilary (a church which was beautifully decorated by the Newlyn artists), a pulpit at Paul Church and a set of wooden bench ends at St Levan, on which he was working until just before his death. He was also involved in the restoration of Madron Church in 1936, during which an 8th century inscribed stone was discovered, (now against the SW wall). During his career he produced many thousands of churchyard memorials throughout the country including those in Sancreed Churchyard to his friends from Newlyn - Geoffrey and Jill Gamier, Stanhope and Maud Forbes, Thomas Cooper Gotch and Gotch's daughter, the Marquise de Verdieres.
Berriman (1986) Arts and Crafts in Newlyn 1890 ~ 1930, Newlyn Orion, Newlyn Orion Art Gallery and Dr Lawrence L Snell
Garrihy, A (2009) 'Sculpture in West Cornwall to 1939' in Hardie 2009 pp95-6
Hardie (2009) Artists/Newlyn & West Cornwall pp270-1
H Penhaul (2010) 'Arnold Snell, Sculptor' [in] ArteFACT, Vol 4, Issue 1, March 2010 (about the Penlee Photographic Archive)