Exhibition: Summer in February, Penlee House Gallery

Right now, Penlee House Gallery in Cornwall is hosting one of the most popular shows it has ever staged. The Summer in February collection was originally planned to be exhibited alongside the upcoming film of the same name, but delays in its release has meant the exhibition comes as a sneak peak into this summer's big old arty blockbuster.

I should explain. This is an exhibition based on a film, which is based on a book, which is based on true events. Phew. The Summer in February story focuses on Florence Carter-Wood, who came down from London, married artist Sir Alfred Munnings in haste, and began an affair with his friend, Gilbert Evans. Florence and Alfred were part of a school of artists painting in Lamorna on the eve of the First World War who came together artistically, socially and, of course, romantically. Love triangle, ahoy.

Pretty juicy stuff. Yet, as dark as the storyline becomes, the accompanying exhibition at Penlee House is filled with light. Each artwork exhibited is b-e-a-utiful. Take The Morning Ride, for instance. It has featured on all fifteen of the book's front covers and, for me, is the visual snapshot around which the storyline pivots. It's romantic. Hauntingly so. Here, he is painting a woman so easily loveable that she will scar him for life.

Sir Alfred Munnings, The Morning Ride

As definitive as The Morning Ride is, the piece that sticks out in my mind is Laura Knight's Self Portrait and Nude (or The Model). On a visual level, it is striking (seriously, you'll be in awe of it as soon as you turn the corner and see those reds and pinks glowing from the walls). But considering the subject socially, a woman painting the nude was quite a statement. It wasn't the 'done thing', but LK did it - and showed the boys how it was done in the process.

Dame Laura Knight, Self Portrait and Nude, aka The Model

With the film released, the book reprinted and further exhibitions to come, this twisted, dark, beautiful story will be dominating the culture columns this summer. Make sure you're ahead of the crowd by getting your preview at Penlee House.


  1. Excellent review Amy - saw the exhibition this afternoon - as you say, b-e-a-utiful! Looking forward greatly to seeing the film.

  2. Thank you Rod! I think my favourite piece in the exhibition was the massive Laura Knight one in the first room. I was lucky enough to go to the press screening of the film a while back - it's great! Lovely scenery of course.


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