SPECIAL EVENT CELEBRATED THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE GREAT CORNISH PHILANTHROPIST JOHN PASSMORE EDWARDS
The 200th anniversary of the birth of John Passmore Edwards, the Cornish philanthropist, generous benefactor, and life-long champion of the working classes was recently celebrated in a special event at Newlyn Art Gallery, one of three art gallery buildings he founded.
Shallal Dance Theatre brought along their giant Mr & Mrs Passmore Edwards puppets, created as part of their ‘Best for the Most’ project. They also gave a captivating performance of poetry and dance. To mark this anniversary year, more than 70 Passmore Edwards buildings, from libraries to hospitals, have been gifted a Rowan tree by Forest for Cornwall, and The Mayor of Penzance, Cllr Stephen Reynolds was delighted to help plant the Gallery’s tree in its garden. The event was completed in true Cornish style with pasties and a cream tea.
Cllr Stephen Reynolds said: “What a legacy Passmore Edwards left to future generations! It was a real pleasure to help Newlyn Art Gallery commemorate this great philanthropist. Not only is this amazing building still in use for its original purpose, but the gallery team are ensuring his legacy lives on by embracing his inclusive and generous philosophy.”
Passmore Edwards believed that by ‘funding the ladder’ through bequests and philanthropy the poor might be encouraged to climb. Passmore Edward’s legacy is central to the gallery’s work today and enshrined in its values.
Gallery Director James Green said: “Passmore Edwards was a truly remarkable individual, who dedicated himself to improving the life chances of so many people, through shrewdly investing in public institutions, such as Newlyn Art Gallery, many of which continue to do his work today. He remains an inspiration to us all at the gallery, so it’s wonderful to reflect on, and honour his legacy through the tree planting today.”
Over the space of 14 years, 70 major buildings were established in London, Cornwall and elsewhere, particularly for the benefit of local communities as a direct result of Passmore Edwards’ bequests. These included hospitals, libraries, schools, convalescent homes, drinking fountains, and three art galleries, which continue to the present day: Whitechapel Art Gallery, South London Gallery, and Newlyn Art Gallery. The original name of Newlyn Art Gallery, Passmore Edwards Art Gallery can be seen on the front of the building, which first opened its doors in October 1895.
On his death in 1911, Edwards was remembered for his generosity as a benefactor and the positive impact he had made, as noted in his obituary in The Times: ‘He did more good in his life than almost any other of his contemporaries.’
John Passmore Edwards (1823 – 1911)
See our blog post for more information on John Passmore Edwards