The history of the little Gallery at Newlyn is well documented, as an exhibition centre for contemporary art, as made by local artists and by visitors. The principal idea was that it offered an exhibition space for artists, prior to sending in their work to the RA and other venues in London and around the country. It provided an all-weather gallery whereas the Meadow studios and the Meadow itself as a showing ‘hall’ were found wanting at times of poor weather. The Gallery building itself was constructed (1895) at the expense of John Passmore EDWARDS, a well known Cornish philanthropist and London newspaper scion, who was also responsible for the creation of the South London Art Gallery (Camberwell, 1893) and later the Whitechapel Art Gallery (WHI) (1900). His gift to the artists of West Cornwall was made in memory of ‘The Cornish Wonder’ John OPIE RA, and recommended to the artists of the Newlyn area as their ‘show place’ ‘for the public good.’
Through a subscription system, the Gallery was supported by the artists themselves as ‘Fellows’ and by their interested pupils, friends and benefactors of the arts. Intermittently the Gallery has been called the Passmore Edwards Art Gallery (PEAG), the Opie Gallery at Newlyn, the Newlyn Orion Galleries (when amalgamated in 1974 with a commercial gallery, The Orion, in Penzance), and most commonly the Newlyn Art Gallery, the name by which it is now officially known (1995 Council Minute). From 1924 a Craft Section was introduced. A Board of Trustees was responsible for the condition and structure of the building, though not for the activities within, the latter being planned by the Newlyn Society of Artists (NSA).
NAG Trust documents (Archive)
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn, Diary of a gallery
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn & West Cornwall Sales Record of NAG 1895-1914 repr pp54-61