Meet the Partners: Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange

13 January 2021



In our latest blog series 'Meet the Partners', we hear from the teams behind round two of the National Partners Programme to find out more about their unique museum and gallery venues.

Heather Pasfield, Digital Programme Producer at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, shares her experiences and highlights working on the programme, route into the museum sector and what she's looking forward to. 



Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange is one of three regional galleries and museums to present and curate exhibitions drawn from the Arts Council Collection as part of the National Partners Programme. For more than 125 years, Newlyn Art Gallery has offered a wide and varied exhibition programme, presenting contemporary work in all media by regional, national and international artists, with a supporting programme of events across two sites.

The second venue, The Exchange, is a major contemporary art space in the centre of Penzance that opened in 2007 and was formerly the town’s telephone exchange. Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange believe that art and art organisations can perform a civic function and be relevant to, and lead a change in, social issues and this inspires their ambitous programme of exhibitions and projects aimed at connecting audiences in the south west with the Arts Council Collection.


ACC: Can you tell us a little bit about your venue and what makes it special?


HP: Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange is special for many reasons. Firstly, the small team will always go above and beyond to make you feel welcome and work hard to meet deadlines with the best possible quality of work. I arrived in Penzance around January 2020 and I remember my first staff meeting, it had a great energy that was open to sharing with the wider team. That sense of transparency and collaboration is routine in the office, and since the pandemic I have seen the same people go hard to deliver and support new projects for lockdown audiences. It’s a great team to be a part of. 

Another special thing about our venue is that we have two distinct main spaces, and with one ticket you get access to both venues. We have The Exchange in the heart of Penzance, the building has a beautiful glass exterior that looks magical when it lit up at night. The view from the Newlyn Art Gallery is really really our best kept secret. Built 125 years ago, the famous building is just beautiful and now we have our outdoor café space where our audiences can enjoy delicious cakes and coffee whilst on the look out for seals in Mounts Bay!

The Arts Council Collection : Meet the Partners: Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange

ACC: What made you want to be a part of the Newlyn team and what was your route into working in the museum sector?


HP: My experience in Digital Producing comes from a theatre and performance background. I knew I wanted to explore with Digital as this flexible model / tool for harnessing engagement online. I was innovating with live streaming and content for Off West End venues at the time, but I knew that I wanted to test my own skill set within a regional venue. I had an instinct to investigate arts organisations, including galleries, as I’d always found that large scale art installations were at the forefront of representing artists pushing the limits of multimedia or complex technical exhibitions and were always playing with digital innovations. 

I wanted to join Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange because I was excited by the chance to work with a gallery built around community values with diverse, high-quality art exhibitions, and a desire to develop its digital programme for future audiences. There is something I learn everyday about working in a gallery and it’s been a fascinating process adapting my skills for the museum sector. My role as the Digital Programme Producer at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange can be quite varied but mostly, I help develop and support the digital aspects of the partners programme. At the moment I mainly work locally with my programming team to deliver digital elements from our Arts Council Collection exhibitions. For example, planning out audio-visual kit, measurements to install projectors or even video editing features to go on social media. 

The Arts Council Collection : Meet the Partners: Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange

ACC: What challenges have you come up against in developing your programme?


HP: The obvious challenge has been the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Everyone has had to adapt online. As a digital producer it has been crucial to challenge my own perceptions of online engagement in lockdown, without trying to get sucked in by TikTok. It made me think back to my postgrad, when I was interrogating what are we using these online platforms for? Audience engagement is the undeniable focus, but it’s clear that this pandemic has accelerated our daily usage of screens. We’ve had to adapt massively as an art gallery to meet those needs, but our online catalogue of Films & Audio has never been stronger. As well as hosting a selection of Films from the Arts Council Collection, we’ve also produced 360˚ virtual tours of our exhibitions, podcasts, webinars, resource packs and online workshops.

ACC: What has been the highlight of the partnership for you so far?


HP: Welcoming our first shows Hippo Campus: Where We Learn and Go On Being So. I loved working on both of those shows and I’m relatively new to the organisation, so it was a great initiation. Hippo Campus was a show about the process and history of learning and it had lots of multimedia that I was responsible for organising. I love figuring out the digital set up of a show, I always compare it to a similar process of a circuit board in trying to make the whole system work as a part of a wider vision. For Go On Being So we had films from the Art Council Collection that had been selected by 12 – 16 year olds, but my favourite part of that exhibition was filming a Talking Heads interview about their own experiences as art curators.

The Arts Council Collection : Meet the Partners: Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange

ACC: What is your favourite work in the Arts Council Collection and why?


HP: Andy Holden's Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, 2011-16. I’m a big fan of exploring themes in pop culture and together with a fun digital installation spread over two screens, it’s a playful investigation of a cartoon universe. It’s a great piece for families to engage in creative thinking around visual arts in a simple and entertaining way. Plus the references to classic cartoons are just too good to miss!


ACC: What’s coming up in the partnership that you are most excited about?


HP: We’ve got our collaborative project coming up with our young people next year that’s pretty exciting. Before lockdown we had brilliant engagement from a local group of young LGBTQIA+ people working with the Intercom Trust, and they really responded to being in an art gallery and sharing their opinions about art. I’m excited to see how they’ll shape the show and to see the results of their work.


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With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.