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Hevva! Hevva! – Fishing in Cornwall 

Hevva! Hevva! – Fishing in Cornwall 

‘Hevva’ was a fishing term in the Cornish language for the traditional call used by the ‘huer’, who was employed to spot shoals of pilchards (now known as Cornish Sardines), and quickly rally the fishermen to their boats when fish were sighted. Fred Stephens (1832-1908) was a legendary ‘huer’ who spotted shoals of fish at Cadgwith for over forty years and the true story of his remarkable dream of pilchards is the inspiration for this exhibition which explores the highs and lows of fishing in Cornwall.

Fishing has been a vital source of food and income since people first settled on the Cornish coast from about 8000 BCE and is still a key part of the Cornish economy. It is a celebrated part of Cornish life, steeped in tradition and heritage, which has inspired artists for centuries. However, the romanticised images of idyllic fishing villages that many associate with the industry do not reflect the harsh realities of the day-to-day life of the fishermen and women and their communities, nor do they portray the many issues faced past and present. The Newlyn School painters decided to settle in the town not for the light, but due to the fact that most of the population was dependent on fishing and their tough working lives gave the artists plenty of subject matter. Meanwhile, contemporary artists are exploring wider issues such as the impact of the decline of the industry, sustainability and environmental issues.

The exhibition features the artwork of the Newlyn School including Stanhope Forbes, Harold Harvey, Percy Craft and Falmouth artists Charles Napier Hemy and Henry Scott Tuke. A selection of Automata, locally produced Films, Gansey knitware and ‘Mini Dave and Bird’, a sculpture created by Holly Bendall, part of the recently crowdfunded ‘Waiting for fish’ project, also on show.

The exhibition also sees the launch of our Bloomberg Connects digital guide which will enrich the experience for onsite visitors and will enable audiences across the globe to experience the exhibition virtually. More about what you can expect from our Digital Guide in this great article on Art UK.

Hemy, Charles Napier RA RWS (1841-1917): Falmouth Natives, signed and dated 1886, oil on canvas, 81 x 122 cms.

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