Inspired by Cornwall: Is The Light in Cornwall REALLY Something Special?

As an art lover, you’ve probably heard all about that special quality of light that only Cornwall has to offer. It has allegedly been inspiring artists for centuries and whilst there’s no mistaking that an awful lot of exceptionally beautiful artwork does come from the Cornish Coast, is there really something to that light that everyone raves about or is it just a myth?


Whether you live here in Cornwall or you’re lucky enough to pay a visit, you will certainly be taken aback by the abundance of natural beauty – from the sea shore to the quaint coastal towns, like our very own St Mawes. You’ll feel instantly rejuvenated as soon as you take a lungful of that fresh sea air and the stunning sights will leave you inspired, whatever the weather. But that light…are we just imagining it?


With the highest concentration of artists in the UK outside of London residing in Cornwall, there’s definitely something that draws them in! The BBC enlightened us to the truth behind the artist’s love affair with Cornish light, in their investigative programme ‘Coast’…


What is Natural Light?


The way that we experience natural light has several components and that is the first thing we need to grasp before we can understand why Cornwall has such a unique quality of light to offer…


  1. Direct light from the sun,
  2. Light diffused through cloud and mist
  3. Reflected light


So now we know the basics, lets delve a little deeper…


The Tonality of Cornish Light


Unlike most other areas of the world, Cornwall is quite special in that it has all three types of light in spades, reflected light being its star thanks to all the surrounding water.


The tonality of light is altered depending on the surface from which it is reflected and in Cornwall’s case, this is the wonderful blue tones of the sea and the white of the sand, kept clear and pure due to the clean air that we have here.


Cornwall is known for it’s famous light and enjoying fantastic surf. The sand and sea reflects and refracts and scatters sunlight and a wide variation of hues across the whole town and this is then combined with the direct sunlight and depending on the weather, cloud and mist too, which makes for a truly magical view.


As the sunniest and mildest area of the UK, enjoying the warm Caribbean air as a direct result of the Gulf Stream and lapping up an average of 1,540 hours of sunshine a year and (during July you can expect an average of 7.6 hours of sunshine a day!) we don’t have to compete too much with the cold grey skies that are synonymous with most other parts of England either!

In Conclusion…


All in all, the quality of Cornish light really is something totally unique, so it’s no wonder that so much beautiful art is created here. We are incredibly proud to be able to offer a wide range of fabulous coastal art, depicting some of our favourite Cornish beaches and towns, painted by a selection of immensely talented local artists.


If you’re a sucker for natural beauty or you’re looking for a little inspiration in your life, a trip to Cornwall is a must. Be sure to stop by and visit us here in St Mawes Gallery when you come!