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Our Exhibition


Ancient Roots and 30 Years of Revival

In June 2021, The Golowan exhibition was very well received and large numbers of people visited and enjoyed it during the two weeks that it took place.

To celebrate the ancient Golowan Festival, the Golowan Team delivered a pop-up Exhibition highlighting Golowan’s celebrations from ancient times to its inception and revival in 1991. 

The exhibition artifacts and displays linked its chequered history of fire, dance, music, art, parades and song, epitomising the spirit of Penzance and its people, the integration of the community and mad midsummer display of joy, passion, civic pride and a unity of spirit.
The Golowan exhibition was very well received and large numbers of people visited and enjoyed it during the two weeks that it took place.


Zone one

A series of 23 panels that chart midsummer revels in Penzance between St John’s Eve (24th June) and St Peter’s Eve (29th June). Starting with the earliest mention of the word “Goluan” in William Borlase’s 1754 book Observations on the Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall, it follows the colourful happenings at this time of year through 19th century newspaper accounts. They are all real stories as reported at the time. Up to the 1880s, Penzance held what were likely to be the most boisterous midsummer celebrations in the country. Bonfires, fireworks, dancing in the streets, accidents, crimes, fun fairs took place over the course of a week. It explores why the festivities died out, and touches upon the earlier 20th century midsummer bonfire revivals, ending with the panel “Golowan is back”, introducing the 1991 revival.

Download your
copy here

If you would like to download and keep a copy of the exhibition panels, to read at your leisure, please do so. Please do NOT print or re-distribute the file for any purposes. 

Zone two

Golowan – Feast of John, celebrating 30 years – by Barbara Santi | awen productions CIC

An archive led short film capturing the stories and traditions of the past 30 years of Golowan as we celebrate it today. Using archive footage, narrated passages, artefacts, photographs, music, and poetry, this new documentary captures the essence and foundation of this Cornish Midsummer celebration, bringing to the fore the history and heritage of Golowan and Mazey Day.

15 minute documentary |

Zone three

Exhibits from 30 years of Golowan

A display of memorabilia and descriptions of objects from the last 30 years, featuring Penglaz, school parade withy sculptures from past processions, souvenirs, jewellery, community created banners, Golowan Band instruments, posters, past Teaser clothing, costumes, the mock mayor, and the front covers of past programmes.

It was produced by: Curatorial Research Centre, Design By Paul, Awen Productions and Terry Sampson

Golowan would like to thank Costa Coffee Penzance for supporting our exhibition volunteers. Thanks to the Big Dance Company, Three S Films, and PZ Scaffolding for the loan of equipment. Thank you to all who have contributed to and helped with this exhibition. It would not have been possible without you. Meur ras bras!

Mock Mayor’s Throne

Designed and constructed in 1996 by Julian Greenwood-Penny with the help of Lucy Bray.

The front panel depicts four early Mock Mayors framed by two Christian fish. The figure on the left represents ‘Helga the Hormonal’, in the centre is the first modern Mock Mayor, Simon Uren over ‘Buster the Dog’, and on the right is David White. The two side panels were inspired by the Book of Kells.


Penglaz ‘Obby ‘Oss created for Mazey Day, 1992-93 by D & J Twomlow

Penglaz is a contemporary reimagining of an ‘obby oss’ or hobby horse and was first devised and created for Golowan in 1992-93 by David and Julia Twomlow, to take part in the annual Mazey Day celebrations.

The term hobby horse refers to a form of animal costume used around the world in various traditional customs and seasonal celebrations. The earliest reference to a hobby horse in Britain is from the 14th century. In Cornwall, the earliest mention comes from the Cornish miracle play, Bewnans Meriasek, completed in 1504. Hobby horses also appear in parish records across Britain from the 1500s and were widely used to raise funds for the church.

Penglaz is a ‘mast oss’, built with a skull on a pole and a cape covering the head and shoulders of the carrier. The name Penglaz, or ‘Penglaze’ means ‘grey head’.

The original makers performed with this oss on Mazey Day for nearly 20 years.

or, Simon Uren over ‘Buster the Dog’, and on the right is David White. The two side panels were inspired by the Book of Kells.

The Tree

The Tree was created for the Golowan Goes Green theme of the Golowan Festival in 2019..

Alverton School were inspired by a design from one of the Year 6 pupils who had won a school competition to design the Mazey image. The Tree was made by pupils with the direction of then art teacher, Kate Hobin and considers how the beauty of nature can be so easily destroyed.

The Giant Green Frog

The Giant Green Frog was created for the ‘Golowan Goes Green’ theme of the Golowan Festival in 2019..

Nancealverne School were inspired by the topic Saving the Rainforest where the school also created costumes based on creatures from the Amazon rainforest. The red-eyed tree frog was made by pupils from the school as a messy and collaborative project and the frog has been proudly displayed in the school hall since the 2019 Mazey Day parade, for all to see every time they occupy the hall for assemblies, PE or lunch.

First Golowan Staff

“Originally the ‘stick’ was a piece of waste pine with a few bottle tops and some ribbons. But later a curtain pole from my shop was painted and pimped into what it is today. I gave up the role when I moved here to Ibiza some 10 years ago. I was so happy that eventually the part was taken by my son, Tom White, who has developed the role even further.”

Roger White, Golowan band mascot and leader of the parade.

Freya’s Mazey Outfits

Giraffe Dress
by Freya Laughton

The Silver Dress
by Freya Laughton

Neverending Story
by Freya Laughton

The Grass Dress
by Freya Laughton

The Day of the
Dead Model

Made for Golowan 2016: Neverending Story

Mousehole School’s theme this was The Day of the Dead and their procession was accompanied by a Day of the Dead wedding couple. It was  designed and made by Caroline Newborn, David Eddy and the Year 6 children.

The Golowan
Giant Panda

Made for Golowan 2019:
Golowan Goes Green

Created by St Mary’s CofE Primary School working with artist Amanda Lorens. The Year 6 pupils chose this image when the World Wildlife Fund was selected as the school’s chosen charity to support. 

Collection of Souvenirs

A collection of jewellery, posters and programmes.

Kindly donated by Terry Sampson

Golowan Banners

An array of banners made by the community over the past 30 years.

The Golowan Band

A display of colours and instruments played throughout the Golowan Festival by the much-loved Golowan Band.

Penglaz’s Teaser Dress

By Elise Sampson.

The Banner of St John the Baptist

By Victoria Abbott