The 'Our Art' gallery showcases Plymouth's fantastic art collection and provides a place to look, discuss, question and engage with the city's rich history of art. The region’s most famous artist, Joshua Reynolds, once said:
A room filled with pictures is a room filled with thoughts.
As you enter the gallery, you're greeted by a grand display of paintings that represent over 400 years of artists painting Plymouth. The artworks follow the coastline from the River Plym to the River Tamar and provide a varied vista of Plymouth through the eyes of artists across the centuries. They include some of the earliest existing depictions of Plymouth - small sketches and watercolours that date from the 1600s.
Across from this visual panorama of Plymouth you can see a showcase of three centuries of artistic production from the South West. Reynolds established his first studio in Plymouth, going on to found the Royal Academy of Art and becoming one of the most important portrait painters of the 1700s. 200 years later, Robert Lenkiewicz had several studios in Plymouth’s historic Barbican area where he painted the city’s characters. Artists like Stanhope Forbes and Barbara Hepworth were drawn to the South West by the luminous quality of coastal light and were key figures in the Newlyn and St Ives artist colonies, which steered the course of nineteenth and twentieth-century British art.
You can also explore the breadth of our decorative arts collection in a mass display of over 350 objects. From Plymouth to the world, from the everyday to the very unusual, from the functional to the experimental, these ceramic, glass, silver, silk, wool and wood objects tell the story of makers and innovators. Learn about Plymouth’s greatest experimenter, William Cookworthy, who was the first person in the UK to discover the formula for true (hard-paste) porcelain and founded the Plymouth Porcelain Factory. Discover tales of travel, invention, curiosity and creativity that span almost 500 years and 5,000 miles.