Pop-up exhibition on Cornish traditions in Penzance

Pop-up exhibition on Cornish traditions in Penzance

 Official opening – Saturday 13 August, 5pm

The Cornish Culture Association have created a pop-up exhibition on Cornwall’s traditions and customs. Housed on the ground floor of the former Causewayhead Furnishings shop in Causewayhead Penzance, the exhibition presents many of the wonderful costumes and artefacts used at occasions throughout the year such as May Horns and the midwinter Montol festival.

The history of our winter tradition of Guise Dancing, famous for its wonderful and colourful costumes at Montol, is explored in the exhibition. Costumes from the “guise guilds” are on display, including those from The Ancient Company of the Corn Market, The Glorious Company of the Egyptian House, The Splendid League of Physicians, and The Noble Company of the Turks Head. Guise dance “beasts” – typically skulls on poles – can also be seen in a rare outing outside the winter months.

The exhibition also features incredibly rare radio interviews by BBC Radio Cornwall broadcaster Ted Gundry talking to Guise Dancers of old from Madron and St Ives.

The misconception that these are pagan activities is challenged in the exhibition through newspaper reports from the 19th and 20th centuries. They show that guise dancers were members of churches and chapels. These are civic traditions practised by people of all faiths and none.
The Cornish Culture Association are people from all kinds of different backgrounds. Some of us are Cornish, many of us are not. We embrace everyone in our community and want to give each other the chance to participate and have some fun at the same time.

Tehmina Goskar, chairman of the Cornish Culture Association, said:

“The CCA Summer Exhibition is a showcase of the wonderful costumes, masks, props and other objects handmade by our members and volunteers for the different traditional events we hold throughout the year.

We have on display a history of Guise Gancing – an ancient Cornish civic custom leading right to the present day. Hopefully local people and visitors learn more about why they sometimes see strangely dressed people in the streets and pubs playing music, singing and fooling about at different times of the year, and be inspired to join us.”

Simon Reed, Director of the CCA said:

“This exhibition is an opportunity to see the hard work people put into the various customs that punctuate our calendar and an opportunity for local people and visitors to learn more about Cornish traditions. I would like to personally thank all those who have supported our work and encourage those who have yet to experience it to actively seek it out and give it a try.”

The exhibition is free and open from 10am-4pm most days until the end of August. Donations are welcome, with all contributions going towards making Montol happen again this year. A number of daytime and evening events will take place, including traditional Cornish music and displays of fabulous guise dance costume. These will be publicised on posters and online. The exhibition space was made possible with the support of Pop Up Penzance.

Do you fancy Guise Dancing for Montol 2016?

Simon Reed (Director) – zippersimon@gmail.com – 07791 435833
Tehmina Goskar (Chairman) – tehmina@goskar.com – 07834 423526

One response to “Pop-up exhibition on Cornish traditions in Penzance”

  1. Wow, how wonderful, l am visiting Cornwall in December, so hopefully-weather permitting l will attend the Montol celebration. I love celebrating all things Pagan, Goddess, and anything weird and wonderful. Going to google The Cornish Cukture Association now…and dreaming of living in Cornwall!!

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