Rena Gardiner: Art and inspiration

Prospect Tower field by Rena Gardiner

Our new exhibition celebrates the life and work of renowned print-artist Rena Gardiner to mark the twentieth anniversary of her summer-in-residence at Cotehele in 1999.

Whilst not necessarily a household name, Rena Gardiner's work is instantly recognisable. Her guidebooks to historic places, buildings and the countryside have an idiosyncratic style that is unique in post-war British art. 

Rena Gardiner's life

Rena Gardiner dedicated her life to her art, usually working alone in her thatched cottage in Tarrant Monkton. One of her biggest achievements was the creation of around 45 books, all of which she wrote, illustrated and printed herself. 

Her legacy also includes paintings, pastels and linocut prints in a style that is instantly recognisable for its exuberant use of colour and texture. 

Summer-in-residence at Cotehele

Gardiner first came to Cotehele to create a guidebook for the National Trust but fell in love with the place and returned to exhibit her work in the Cotehele Gallery a number of times.

In 1999 she stayed for the summer, working in the drawing room of the house and demonstrating her linocutting technique to the public.She created many beautiful prints of Cotehele and the surrounding countryside during this time.

Rena Gardiner's print of Shamrock on Cotehele quay
Shamrock on Cotehele Quay by Rena Gardiner
Rena Gardiner's print of Shamrock on Cotehele quay

The exhibition

A large archive of her work was purchased by the National Trust following Gardiner's death later in 1999. A number of these prints are displayed in the exhibition.

In the Breakfast Room of Cotehele house you can see her preliminary sketches, lithographic plates and linocuts alongside the prints created from them and outdoors, you’ll find reproductions of some of the 40 views Gardiner made of Cotehele set within the landscape which inspired them and still inspire others today.

'Rena Gardiner: Art and inspiration' runs until October 2020.

In Cotehele Gallery

We are thrilled to be able to offer a limited number of Rena Gardiner's original prints for sale in Cotehele Gallery.

One of Rena Gardiner's many works inspired by Cotehele
Lino print by Rena Gardiner showing the view down towards Cotehele Quay
One of Rena Gardiner's many works inspired by Cotehele