Pannett Art Gallery is Closed – Hannah Mayor

Vase of Flowers by Hannah Mayor (1871-1947)

Although the Pannett Art Gallery is closed, we want you to be able to enjoy the paintings in our collection – keep checking the website for regular updates.

You might not be able to visit the Pannett Art Gallery at the moment but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some beautiful paintings. Whilst the gallery has to remain closed, we will do our best to keep showing artworks from our collection each week.

Enjoy these beautiful spring flowers painted by Staithes Art Group artist Hannah Mayor – Vase of Flowers by Hannah Mayor (1871-1947)

Hannah Mayor (Nee Hoyland) was born in South Yorkshire. She studied in London, at the Royal Female School of Art and later attended Westminster School of Art where, as a result of a Royal visit, she sold a flower painting to Queen Victoria.

In 1901 Hannah was a founder member of the Staithes Art Club, and a year later she married fellow founder member Fred Mayor.

She exhibited widely, and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1904.

For a few years, the Mayors lived in Montreuil, Pas-de-Calais, France, where they were visited by many artists, before their return to England in 1908.

After many years in London, she moved to Surrey, where she remained for the final years of her life.

If you have any further information, stories or anecdotes about the artist, or any of the members of the Staithes Art Group, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us by email:




The Kindness of Strangers (and Friends)

1 February – 22 March 2020

The Pannett Art Gallery exists today because of the generosity of Alderman Robert Elliott Pannett (1834 – 1920) who on his death 100 years ago, left in his will Pannett Park, the money to build a gallery and many artworks, to Whitby, the town he loved.

Over the years many more paintings, drawings and other artworks have been given to the gallery and some of these are now on display. All the artworks in the current exhibition have either been given, been left to the gallery in a will, or purchased with money donated or bequeathed to the gallery.

Some of these are recent acquisitions, such as the large collection of watercolours recently bequeathed to the gallery by the late Joyce Turner who is remembered by many local people as Miss Turner, their French Teacher. Miss Turner’s love of the town is reflected in her choice of paintings, which feature some fabulous Whitby scenes.

The beautiful military portrait is possibly of Henry (Harry) Lawson who was in the Grenadier Guards and was killed at Guichy, France, in the first world war. This picture was painted by his father John Lawson and gifted to the gallery by Alice Payne, Harry’s niece.

Other paintings have been purchased with money given to the Art Gallery. For example, “Belinda Sulking” by Sir William Russell Flint RA, a beautiful 20th Century watercolour, was purchased with a financial bequest, as was the Railway Poster, designed by Frank Henry Mason, which complements the Oil Painting “Days of Oak and Hemp” which can be seen in the Staithes Art Group Room.

Over the years some of these paintings haven’t had much attention and there is plenty of work yet to be done, researching the artists and the subjects as well as some cleaning and restoration. If you have any information about any of the paintings on display, the art gallery would love to hear about it.

The Pannett Art Gallery depends on the generosity and kindness of patrons, enthusiasts and supporters, not only for the gift of artworks to develop the collection, but also for financial donations to assist with restoration, framing, cleaning and ongoing care of the collection.

We have strict acquisition rules that determine the sort of work we can include in the Pannett collections. However, we are always keen to investigate ways of extending and improving our collection so that we can show the very best art works in our gallery. The Pannett Art Gallery cares for the collection, to ensure future generations can continue to enjoy these art works and any paintings and drawings donated to the gallery belong to the town.

Anyone wanting to donate or bequeath a painting, drawing or print to the Pannett Art Gallery, should contact the curator Helen Berry:




Henry Lawson by John Lawson
Frank Henry Mason Poster


Discover the early career of the trailblazing artist, Dame Laura Knight

A unique exhibition at the Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby

As part of its programme of anniversary celebrations and made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the Pannett Art Gallery has a unique display of artworks on show throughout much of 2020. A National Lottery Heritage Fund grant has enabled the gallery to present a wonderful selection of art works that illustrate the importance of the North East Coast and the Staithes Group of Artists on the artistic development of Dame Laura Knight RA (1877 – 1970).

The exhibition of works by Laura and her husband Harold, painted during their time at Staithes includes the beautiful and enigmatic painting of Laura, by Harold, painted at about the time of their marriage. This fabulous oil painting was recently purchase for Whitby, thanks to grants from Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and a very generous benefactor, Mr George Bednar. The display also features a small selection of their paintings and sketches depicting life in Staithes at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Alongside these pictures, visitors can see works by the other members of the Staithes Group of Artists. To complement these and to build a wider picture of this artists achievements, additional works by Laura Knight will be going on display throughout the year.

You can see “Laura Knight at Staithes” at the Pannett Art Gallery, 9.30am – 4.30pm (last admission 4pm), Tuesday – Sunday, until 1st November 2020. There is no charge for admission.

How they came to be painting at Staithes

The Staithes Group of Artists developed when the railway extended to Staithes, bringing visitors from outside the area. Artists were attracted to the area, some visiting regularly, others setting up home locally, and a small group started exhibiting together as the Staithes Art Club 1901 – 1907, including Laura (nee Johnson) and Harold Knight.

The youngest of three daughters, Laura Johnson grew up in a low-income family with strong female role models, her mother Charlotte and her grandmothers.

Charlotte Johnson taught part-time at the Nottingham School of Art, where Laura was enrolled as a student from the age of 13.

At Nottingham School of Art, Laura met one of the most promising students, Harold Knight, then aged 17. A friendship developed, blossoming into romance and they married in 1903. Harold was a major influence on Laura’s work, particularly her early painting. Together Laura and Harold visited Staithes and soon returned to live and work there, quickly becoming members of the Staithes Art Group. This period, from 1897 until 1907, was a significant, but often overlooked, period of Laura’s career.

In Staithes Laura painted local people at work, depicting the hardships of fishing and farming as well as documenting the local children at play. Working outdoors Laura developed a freer style, capturing the realities of life.

Laura’s Career after Staithes

Laura and Harold Knight left Staithes in 1907, moving to Cornwall to join the Newlyn artist colony. There Laura’s style developed further, her paintings becoming much lighter and more colourful.

Laura befriended, and was inspired by, working people from all walks of life. Throughout her career she sketched and painted the world of theatre, circus and ballet as well as women at work in the Second World War and people from marginalised communities. Her strength & individuality led to her becoming an official war artist at the Nuremberg Trials.   

In 1929 Laura was created a Dame and in 1936 she became the first woman elected to the Royal Academy since its foundation. Her large retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy, in 1965, was another first for a woman.

Laura Knight was unconventional, inspirational and influential. She succeeded as an artist in a male dominated art world. She was one of the most successful painters in Britain during her lifetime, helping to pave the way for other women to gain greater recognition in the future.


Pannett Art Gallery team member Lisa admires the painting “Laura” which the gallery recently acquired.