Amongst Heroes Two Temple Place, London WC2
(26 January - 14 April 2013)
Just off the Embankment, very close to Temple station, is an arty exhibition space you might not have noticed. Two Temple Place was once home to American social climbers Lord and Lady Astor, and is a proper wow of a building. It's passed through several hands over the last 100 years, but last year opened its doors to the public courtesy of the Bulldog Trust. They plan to run one major exhibition a year, showcasing art you'd not normally see in London, and 2013's show focuses on Cornwall. Not the crashing waves of romantic Cornwall, nothing so obvious, but instead a celebration of "The Artist in Working Cornwall". What this means is a lot of paintings of fishermen, in particular bearded Victorians standing up to their knees in the surf surrounded by pilchards. It might sound dull, but it's actually very refreshing to see life far outside the capital given a showcase within. The finest picture is undoubtedly A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach by Stanhope Forbes, which has a sharp photographic quality despite being painted in 1885. To add to the atmosphere at Two Temple Place a small boat has been dragged into the Lower Gallery, while upstairs the focus switches in part to the mining of tin. What's most striking is the contrast between the exquisite detail of the house's architecture and the ordinary working class folk hanging from its walls. At the weekend a children's art workshop had taken over half of the Great Hall with crayons, bits of cut out paper and painted fish, which again looked perfectly yet brilliantly out of place. And there's a fine cafe. And it's free to get in. And did I mention the house is proper wow?