The NSA is a group of about one hundred and forty professional artists who either live in the South West or have strong connections with the area. The membership is composed of artists working across the full range of contemporary media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, video/digital, site specific and performance. The NSA has a close working relationship with The Exchange in Penzance and Newlyn Art Gallery where it has had its home since its formation more than a century ago. It is run by a committee elected annually from the membership. The current Chairperson is Marilyn Middlemiss.
The N.S.A. was originally founded in 1896 by a group of painters in order to organize and manage exhibitions at the then newly built Newlyn Art Gallery. The gallery was built by the benefactor John Passmore Edwards on land donated by C.N. Le Grice and given to the artists based in Newlyn who were later to become known as the Newlyn School. In the following years the N.S.A and the exhibitions at Newlyn have formed a centre of interest for the arts in the South West. The developments in art over the last century are reflected in the names of the many artists who have exhibited at the Gallery or who have been members of the NSA. A very brief list would include Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, Walter Langley, Lamorna Birch, Dod Proctor, Laura Knight, Alfred Munnings, Peter Lanyon, Bernard Leach, Patrick Heron, John Wells, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Terry Frost.
The artists of the NSA work in an area of the country that is rich in artistic history and has an extraordinarily active and vibrant contemporary art scene. Newlyn Art Gallery has since its inception provided a wonderful showcase for the work of the artists of the NSA. Newly extended and refurbished and with the addition of The Exchange in Penzance it continues to show work produced in the region as part of a rich mix of art from the national and international scene.