Book an art-filled present for Mothering Sunday at Kentmere House Gallery

A selection of Mascot Media art books available via Kentmere House Gallery in York

IF you are seeking a delightfully arty present for Mothering Sunday this weekend, Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick has a recommendation for you.

Books from niche publisher Mascot Media are available exclusively in York via her gallery in Scarcroft Hill.

“Mascot Media is a small Norfolk publisher specialising in beautifully illustrated books featuring paintings by living artists, mostly of animals, birds or gardens,” says Ann. “The books are priced from £10 to £25; delivery within five miles of York can be arranged before the weekend.”

Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick

Yorkshire artists include Emerson Mayes; Janis Goodman; Hester Cox; the former President of the Printmakers’ Society, Hilary Paynter; linocut printmaker H.J. Jackson and many more.

The gallery stock of paintings and prints is available too. “Just email me with your requirements; examples can be emailed to you, shown to you at our door or delivered to your door,” says Ann, who can be contacted at ann@kentmerehouse.co.uk or on 01904 656507.

More Things To Do in and around York eventually and deep into lockdown at home now. List No. 26, courtesy of The Press

Worrying times : Story Craft Theatre’s Janet Bruce, left, and Cassie Vallance to present four half-term Crafty Tales sessions built around The Worrysaurus

SNOWHERE to go in freezing-cold Lockdown 3, except for yet another regulation walk and Chai Latte, as the live arts remain in pandemic hibernation, Charles Hutchinson looks online and ahead to bolster his sparse diary.

Online half-term fun, part one: Story Craft Theatre’s Crafty Tales, The Worrysaurus, February 17 to 20, 10am to 11am

YORK children’s theatre company Story Craft Theatre are running four storytelling and craft-making sessions on Rachel Bright’s The Worrysaurus on Zoom over half-term.

Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance will begin each session for two to seven-year-old children with the Crafty Tales song and a butterfly craft-making session, followed by the interactive story of the little Worrysaurus dealing with butterflies in the tummy. Cue songs, games, dancing and fun galore.

The February 17 session is fully booked; prompt booking is advised for the other three at bookwhen.com/storycrafttheatre.

Wizard and Frog: Magic Carpet Theatre’s Jon Marshall and his amphibian accompanist in The Wizard Of Castle Magic

Online half-term fun, part two: Magic Carpet Theatre, The Wizard Of Castle Magic, streaming from February 18

MAGIC Carpet Theatre and Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) are teaming up for a free online streaming event for the February half-term.

The Hull company’s family show The Wizard Of Castle Magic will be shown on PAC’s  YouTube channel from Thursday, February 18 at 2.30pm, available to view for 14 days until March 4.

Filmed live at PAC behind closed doors by Pocklington production company Digifish last autumn, director Jon Marshall performs an enchanting show based on the traditional Sorcerer’s Apprentice tale for children aged three to 11 and their families with a script packed with comedy, illusion and special theatrical effects. 

Solo show: Harpist Cecile Saout will be playing at Opera North‘s ONe-to-ONe online home performances in Lockdown 3

Opera North goes home: ONe-to-ONe personal live performances on Zoom, February 15 to February 27

OPERA North is launching ONe-to-ONe, a digital initiative to bring live performance into homes across the country during Lockdown 3.

ONe-to-ONe will provide personal online performances delivered by members of the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, with slots available to book at operanorth.co.uk.

From a cappella arias and folk songs to Bach cello suites and a marimba solo, the recipient will be treated to a free virtual solo at a time of their choice, performed by a professional musician over Zoom.

Something fishy this way comes: Six Sprats, by Giles Ward, from Blue Tree Gallery’s online show, Revive

Online exhibition of the season: Revive, curated by Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until March 13

BLUE Tree Gallery’s latest online show, Revive, is bringing together paintings by artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini, Steve Tomlinson, James Wheeler and Giles Ward.

Memory and imagination come to interplay in Lazzerini’s landscapes; the sea and the “associated physical and emotional experiences it brings” inform Tomlinson’s work; memory and desire in the light and atmosphere mark out Glaswegian Wheeler’s landscapes; the natural world inspires Giles Ward’s experimental, other-worldly paintings.

Revive can be viewed online at pyramidgallery.com, and artworks are being displayed in the gallery and gallery windows for those passing by.

Courtney Marie Andrews: New date for her Pocklington Arts Centre gig

Rearranged gig: Courtney Marie Andrews, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 17

PHOENIX country singer Courtney Marie Andrews has moved her Pocklington gig from June 17 2020 to exactly one year later, on the back of being newly crowned International Artist of the Year at the 2021 UK Americana Awards.

Courtney, 30, will perform the Grammy-nominated Old Flowers, her break-up album released last July, on her return to Pocklington for the first time since December 2018.

In the quietude of an emptied 2020 diary, she completed her debut poetry collection, Old Monarch, set for publication by Simon & Schuster on May 13.

York River Art Market: Artists and makers sought for summer return

Down by the river: York River Art Market call-out for artists

YORK River Art Market 2021 is issuing a call-out to artists for this summer’s riverside event on Dame Judi Dench Walk, Lendal Bridge, York.

After a barren 2020, the organisers have announced plans to return for markets on June 26; July 3, 24, 25 and 31, and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, when 30-plus artists will be selling original art and hand-crafted goods at each stalls day.

Applications to take part should be emailed to yorkriverart@gmail.com with three quality images of your work; a few sentences about your art; links to your digital platforms, and your preferred choice of dates, listed in the YRAM biography on its Facebook page.

Glenn Tilbrook: The Crescent awaits in March 2022

Making plans for next year: Glenn Tilbrook, The Crescent, York, March 13 2022

SQUEEZE up, make room for Glenn Tilbrook, freshly booked into The Crescent for next March.

One half of the Tilbrook-Difford song-writing partnership known as Deptford’s answer to Lennon and McCartney, singer, songwriter and guitarist Tilbrook, 63, can draw on a catalogue boasting the likes of Take Me I’m Yours; Cool For Cats; Goodbye Girl; Up The Junction; Pulling Mussels; Another Nail In My Heart; Tempted; Labelled With Love and Black Coffee In Bed.

Expect picks from his solo works, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, Transatlantic Ping-Pong, Pandemonium Ensues and Happy Ending, too.

Celeste: Number one album

And what about?

DISCOVERING debut albums by rising British stars Celeste (the chart-topping Not Your Muse on Polydor Records) and Arlo Parks (Collapsed In Sunbeams on Transgressive Records). Revelling in the soundtrack while crying your way through Russell T Davies’s five-part mini-series It’s A Sin on Channel 4. Savouring Joe Root’s batting against spin in the return of Test Match Cricket to Channel 4 as England take on India.

The Delines to play delayed Pocklington Arts Centre concert on February 15 2022

The Delines in their rehearsal studio in September 2018. Picture: Jason Quigley

THE Delines, Willy Vlautin’s retro country-soul band from Portland, Oregon, have rearranged their Covid-postponed February 23 gig at Pocklington Arts Centre.

They will head to East Yorkshire on February 15 2022 instead, with the promise of new material on their first British travels since their sold-out 2019 itinerary.

Looking forward to The Delines’ 8pm gig with a full band line-up, Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) director Janet Farmer says: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to reschedule The Delines to perform live here as part of their delayed European tour.

“We know they’ll absolutely be worth the wait and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming the band and our audiences back for an evening of superb live music. We know our audiences cannot wait to experience live music once again, so I’d encourage you to book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.”

The Delines – Vlautin and Sean Oldham, both formerly of Richmond Fontaine, vocalist Amy Boone, Cory Gray and Freddy Trujillo – were working on new songs in the months before lockdown and expect to finish their follow-up to 2019’s The Imperial shortly.

The cover artwork for Willy Vlautin’s sixth novel, The Night Always Comes

Meanwhile, award-winning novelist Vlautin, 54, will be releasing his sixth book, The Night Always Comes, on April 6 (or June 6 in Harper Collins paperback, according to another website).

Nevada-born Vlautin, who was Richmond Fontaine’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter from 1994 to 2016, was inspired by a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s So Much Water So Close To Home, to start writing stories.

In his latest, he explores the impact of trickle-down greed and opportunism of gentrification on ordinary lives. At the core of his story is the dangerously tired Lynette, who is caught between looking after her brother, working two low-paid jobs and trying to take part-time college classes.

Every penny she has earned for years, she has put into savings, striving to scrape together enough to take out a mortgage on the house she rents with her mother.

Tickets for The Delines cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk. The support act that night will be Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jerry Joseph, 59, who released the album This Beautiful Madness last August.

York poet Miles Salter finds Fix in lockdown to end hiatus with candid new collection

Salter of the earth: The ever-candid, sometimes apocalyptic, other times fantasy-seeking York poet Miles Salter

YORK poet, storyteller, journalist, songwriter and radio presenter Miles Salter has come up with his Fix for a seven-year hiatus.

He has released a poetry book of that name on his own new imprint, Winter & May – “it’s a way of saying ‘for all seasons’, reasons Miles – after a burst of writing in the pandemic ended the lull since his second collection, Animals.

In his apocalyptic, sometimes discomfiting yet hopeful miniature narratives and prose poems, Miles’s observational writing spans climate change; the rise and fall-out of love; loneliness and grief; rock’n’roll; the rites of passage through childhood, adolescence and beyond, and life’s flow being put on hold in pandemic lockdown, his tone ranging from deeply dark to darkly witty, quizzical to surrealist.

CharlesHutchPress fixes it for Miles to answer Charles Hutchinson’s frank questions on Fix and more besides.

Why the seven-year hiatus between volumes two and three: had it become a seven-year glitch or itch over that time, Miles?

“I’m a bit of a tortoise. I find that, generally, it takes a while for a project to come to fruition. I can be a real perfectionist. I always think I can do better.

“But the long gap wasn’t intentional. I went through a seismic mid-life crisis. That really slowed everything down. My life was a mess for a while. Some of the poems came out of that. I had a couple of years where I didn’t do much at all, no writing or anything. Just tried to look after myself and keep going. It was very grim.”

At the epicentre of that crisis was the end of your marriage in 2016…

“It took a long time to recover. I was devastated, and suicidal for a while. One of the poems that wasn’t included in the book was about looking for ways to end my life. There was a period in 2017 when I wanted to die. A friend of mine said, ‘You cannot do this to the kids’, and they were absolutely right. 

“One poem, Said, details exchanges between me and my ex-wife at the time of our separation. It was a very difficult time; I wanted to save the marriage but it wasn’t possible. That poem reflects what happened. Let’s say I was trying to capture two different voices.”

Simon Armitage: Poet Laureate has been a major influence on Miles Salter

Given your frankness about your marriage coming to an end, and your subsequent suicidal thoughts, is there anything too personal for poetic expression?

“Fix is very confessional. It’s a risk to write about personal things. Some people have read the book and found it a little uncomfortable, because of the subject matter, although they also said it was moving.

“I feel that vulnerability is important in all art. Otherwise, how are you going to touch people? Overall, I think the balance is about right. Those poems are a record of something traumatic. There are funny poems in the book too! 

“I talked about it with Carole Bromley, who’s a friend and mentor, and I reeled off a list of confessional poetry books like Stag’s Leap (about the end of Sharon Olds’ marriage), and Carole said, ‘Well, you’ve just listed my favourite poetry book’. That was very heartening.” 

How have you changed as a poet over the past seven years?

“I think I’m becoming more careful in the writing, perhaps a bit more lyrical and subtle. I like to think that is a sign of maturity. I always liked muscular writers like Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage. They all were ‘zero bullshit’ in their writing. But you can have impact without raising your voice too loudly. I think I’m getting better at that.” 

How have you changed as a person in that time?

“Good question. There’s a very long answer to that, but a succinct response would be: more mature, a little older, a little less naive about the world. I know myself better. A bit more determined to not mess about, and keener to be more successful than before. Life is short. I want to make the next few years count.” 

How do you define what constitutes a poem: once it was rhyme and rhythm; is it now line breaks and a sense of timing for the content’s maximum impact?

“There are a lot of definitions of poetry; I’m not sure I have a definitive one. For me, it would be ‘tell a story with heart and precision, as fast as you can’. But that reflects my tendency to write stories in my poems. A lot of the poems in Fix are miniature narratives and prose poems.” 

Poetic licence to drill: the cover artwork for Miles Salter’s third collection, Fix

Does being a songwriter have an impact on your writing of poetry? How do poems differ from lyrics?

“I do find them to be very different things. My songs are more sloppy and more impressionistic. The poems are more crafted. Paul Simon sang once about ‘words that tear and strain to rhyme’, and he was spot on.

“With songs, you’re trying to match ‘rain’ with ‘pain’ or ‘again’. My poems dispense with that, most of the time, so the poems are much more liberated. I’d like to get closer to Del Amitri’s Justin Currie and Leonard Cohen in their song-writing, closing the the gap between poems and songs.” 

Why did you choose “Fix” for the title? The word has multiple meanings: to mend a problem; to fasten; to “fix” a sports result; to be “in a fix”; to decide or settle on a date; to fix your eyes on someone; a drug “fix”. Which “Fix” is it for you?

“The big theme of the book is living in an imperfect world. The title was an allusion to addiction, to being in a fix, to trying to make things better. I liked the ambiguity. [Fellow York poet] Antony Dunn had a book called Bugs, which has three meanings. Maybe that was in the back of my mind.”

If you could fix one problem to improve the world, what would it be?

“Climate change. We’re all in big trouble. I have two children and I am scared for them. It’s very frightening. I keep writing about it, as if warding off a bad dream that keeps coming back.” 

Dark humour has its place, but what else drives you in your writing.  Is it cathartic?

“The humour is important, because life is funny and ridiculous as well as difficult and sad. Thomas Merton once said, ‘I want to write a book that contains everything’. I know what he means.

“There’s a Justin Currie song called At Home Inside Me, which has a similar feeling. As an artist, you want to encompass everything. There’s something universal about art. It’s funny, beguiling, unsettling, inspiring…” 

Does something make more sense to you by the end of a poem than at the beginning?

“The best poems, usually, are the ones where you don’t know where you are going. You just follow an idea, and it takes you down a little rabbit warren. It’s a very exploratory thing.  Was it Picasso who said ‘If you knew what you were doing at the start, what would be the point?’ Can’t remember. Somebody like that!”

When do you know a poem is finished? Artists often find it difficult to decide when a work is complete. What about you?

“Fix was exhausting at the end. Multiple revisions and then more, and more. It went through 16 drafts. I’m a bit of perfectionist. I just want stuff to be really, really good. Some of the poems I thought were finished, but I showed them to writer friends and would always try to revise them in light of what people said. I’ve learnt that a dodgy phrase is ‘That will do’. Revision is important. Do it again!” 

“I always admired Philip Larkin for the way he was so honest about the more unpleasant aspects of life,” says Miles Salter

Writers are outsiders, whose observations make us look differently at the world around us. Discuss…

“Yes, absolutely. Writers are outsiders, and sometimes they are difficult, prickly people. But we need their perspective, the way they hold a mirror up to the world. What would literature be without George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Philip Larkin, D H Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway? We need outsiders sometimes. They show us how life is, and how it could be different.” 

You name your influences as Larkin, Duffy, Armitage. Why that trio?

“They didn’t pull any punches; they talked about life in such an uncompromising way, and they were all brilliant with language. Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings is one of the greatest poems of the last hundred years, I think. It’s so moving.

“He has a bad reputation as a human but the writing is wonderful. I used to stand outside his house in Pearson Park in Hull and go ‘that’s where he was’.

“I always admired Larkin for the way he was so honest about the more unpleasant aspects of life – he wrote beautifully but was never sentimental. Like him, I try to balance the dark elements with some humour, too. I didn’t want Fix to be unremittingly bleak. I really wanted it to feel life-affirming.”  

…and Duffy and Armitage?

“I worked with Carol and Simon when I ran the York Literature Festival. I put Carol on three times. That was a buzz.

“Armitage’s Seeing Stars was a big influence on me; it’s an amazing book. He walks a tightrope between humour and horror. Beyond Huddersfield – a bear in a recycling plant. It starts light and funny and gets really dark. Brilliant.”

Your candour within Fix takes in expressing frustration with men being portrayed in a negative light in the poem Shed. Over to you, Miles…

“In the wake of Me Too, there’s been a lot of anger about male behaviour. Some of that is entirely justified – abuse is unacceptable. However, I also see lots of comments that demonise men, and some of that takes place in the poetry world.

“I’m optimistic about what we can do in the future,” says Miles And The Chain Gang frontman Miles Salter, pictured, second from left, with fellow members Billy Hickling, Tim Bruce and Alan Dawson. Picture: Jim Poyner

“Shed is about toxic masculinity, but there’s a redemptive aspect to it: men can be better, we can move on. I’d like to see that reflected in the discourse, instead of ‘aren’t men awful?’ I feel very strongly about it.

“The highest risk category of suicide in the UK is men aged 45 or under, and I was nearly one of those statistics. Voices that demonise men are not helping, frankly. There’s a lot of shame – and shaming – going on out there, and we need to find a more rounded way of talking about things.”

Your poems stretch from realism to surrealism. What draws you to fantasy: a need to escape; a wish for change?

“I like that space where you take a real situation and twist it a little, so it becomes more surreal. I like to have one foot in the real world and one in a place that is much less familiar.

“I always had a slight feeling of guilt about fantasy and escapism, until I saw [artist] Grayson Perry talk about escapism, and how it’s OK and important. That really helped me a lot. I think imagination is hugely important. We need, as a culture and society, to be more imaginative. I hate the way technology is making us less imaginative, I find it really depressing.”

Is that why you have given your book imprint Winter & May the tagline “Books for Humans”?

“In an age of technological dependence, the motto stands as an attempt to reach for human creativity and independence. It scares me how we’ve all been sucked into thinking like machines.

“Part of me longs for a Utopia where we’re much closer to the earth, and much less attached to technology. One of the apocalyptic poems in the book, Witness Statement, foresees a society where machines take over from humanity.” 

“He’s so good at wearing different hats, but it’s always about communication and connecting with people,” says Miles Salter of Barnsley Bard Ian McMillan, a guest on his Jorkik Radio programme, The Arts Show

Despite the stultifying frustrations and uncertainties of the pandemic cycle of Government-enforced lockdowns, how have you been keeping artistically busy, aside from publishing Fix?

“My band, Miles And The Chain Gang, released a couple of videos in 2020, When It Comes To You and Drag Me To The Light, and we’re working towards making an album.

“We’ve been going two years, and it’s been a slow burn. That’s partly because of Covid, but the songs are really strong and the band are brilliant. I’m optimistic about what we can do in the future.”

How is your regular Wednesday night slot on Jorvik Radio, hosting The Arts Show, going?

“I’ve interviewed luminaries such as cookery book writer Nigel Slater, young adult author Melvin Burgess and Barnsley bard Ian McMillan.

“Talking to Ian was great. He’s one of those writers who really inspired me; he’s so good at wearing different hats, but it’s always about communication and connecting with people. That’s where I feel happiest. Communicating makes me feel more alive.”

How do people respond when you say you are a poet?

“Ha! I don’t really say that. I say I’m a communicator.”

Musician, poet, broadcaster, communicator: why is communication so important to you?

“I just feel happy when I’m using words or music to make a connection with people, tell a story, create an atmosphere, impart information. It makes me happy. I’m getting better at it. It’s taken a while, but I’m improving.” 

Should you be wondering…

Why has Miles Salter called his publishing imprint Winter & May?

“It was a joke. It was a way of saying ‘for all seasons’. It’s a made-up name, I just liked the way it sounded. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Winter and May.” 

Is this new venture mere vanity publishing for you? “I really hope not. I always had an inkling that I might go into publishing, in some way. I’ve always adored books. The feel of them, the smell, the potential held inside pages. I’ve got ideas for possible projects with other writers, so I hope it’s not just a bit of ego.”  

Miles Salter’s Fix is available via Ohm Books at info@ohmbooks.com, priced at £8.95. 

Vintage Sitwell photographs at Woodend donated to Scarborough Museums Trust

Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, with archive material donated by William Sitwell in the Sitwell Library at Woodend, Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew.

UNIQUE vintage photographs depicting Woodend, in its days as the private Scarborough summer home of the Sitwell literary family, have been donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by a descendant, journalist William Sitwell.

William is the grandson of writer Sacheverell Sitwell, who, together with brother Osbert and sister Edith, spent many summers at the house in The Crescent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The most famous of the three siblings, William’s great-aunt Edith, was born at Woodend in 1887. William writes for The Daily Telegraph, among other publications, and is a judge on BBC1’s MasterChef.

The Sitwell conservatory at Woodend, Scarborough, in the late 19th or early 20th century. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

When clearing out family belongings, he came across photos that show Woodend, now a creative industries centre, in its heyday as a family home, with a spacious entrance hall, busy living rooms and a palm-filled glasshouse.

William Sitwell says: “I’ve visited Scarborough on many occasions and have always relished a trip to Woodend, now a creative hub run by a collection of talented people my ancestors would be proud of.

“But it’s always strange walking around a museum and wondering what it must have been like as a home, with the presence of my eccentric forebears. When I came across these old photographs, the settings looked familiar and then I realised they were of Woodend, fully furnished and looking very Victorian.

The Sitwell conservatory today, now the Woodend Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“I knew at once that they should be sent to Andrew Clay [chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust], who would cherish them and share them with visitors. They bring a wonderful insight to a lost era.”

Clay says: “The vintage photographs of Woodend are delightful. We have often wondered what these rooms looked like when the Sitwell family lived here and now we have a tantalising glimpse of Woodend in that era.

“It is fascinating to see the beautiful furnishings that once adorned these spaces. They conjure up a long-lost age of elegance and remind us today how sophisticated life on The Crescent really was. We are very grateful to William Sitwell for making this gift and we look forward to keeping in touch.”

Scarborough Museums Trust’s venues – Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and the Woodend Gallery – are closed during Lockdown 3, but the trust hopes to be able to put the photographs on public display as soon as possible.

Another room at Woodend, from the Sitwell archive material donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by William Sitwell

Explore York libraries to provide essential services during Lockdown 3

York Explore Library and Archive

EXPLORE libraries in York will stay open during Lockdown 3 for essential services.

Books will be available through click and collect, while access to computers and printing will be given to people who do not have these at home. All books at present on loan will be renewed until March 31 2021. 

Explore centres in York, Acomb and Tang Hall will be open during the lockdown by pre-booked appointment only from Monday to Saturday. Computer access will be available at all three sites, with click-and-collect books available only from Acomb and Tang Hall.

The Reading Café at Rowntree Park will open every day for takeaway. All other Explore libraries and reading cafés in the city will be closed. The City Archives at York Explore are closed too, but archivists can answer questions by email. 

Online, Explore is offering free e-Books and audiobooks for all ages, free newspapers and magazines from around the world via the PressReader app, and a varied events programme via Zoom, featuring well-known authors, together with workshops and activities.

Explore’s specialist team has put together information to support people, covering everything from home schooling to maintaining health and wellbeing. All links can be found at www.exploreyork.org.uk

Fiona Williams, Explore’s chief executive, says: “Giving access to our pcs [personal computers] means everyone in York has access to the internet and isn’t digitally excluded.

“Opening at York, Acomb and Tang Hall provides a good coverage across the whole city. We will be monitoring usage and feedback and will be able to make changes in response.

“We have made everyone’s books due back on March 31, so no-one has to worry about fines. We will also continue with developing more online services in addition to those already available.”

Fiona adds: “I’m happy that our takeaway service from Rowntree Park Reading Café is available seven days a week. Many people take their exercise in the park and this means they can pick up a coffee.  It’s a shame that we’re back here in another lockdown, but we will hope that there’s a better future in a few months.” 

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, says: “As the city comes together once again to fight Coronavirus and stay home as much as possible, it’s great to see our libraries adapt to continue essential services and offer resources for residents across the city.

“From story books for children staying home, to Zoom courses and workshops for those of us learning a new skill this lockdown, York’s libraries continue to offer something for everyone.

“I want to thank the brilliant staff and volunteers at Explore, and all those in community services, who are adapting to the new lockdown and working hard to serve the residents of York at this critical time.” 

Full details, such as opening hours during lockdown and how to book an appointment, can be found at https://exploreyork.org.uk/explore-during-lockdown/.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides. 

A Christmas message from CharlesHutchPress, dear reader

HERE’S to more going out and less staying in in 2021, once the jabs go to work at large.

In the meantime, thank you to all those in the world of arts and culture who have still made it worth running this site by finding ways to entertain, enlighten and excite in 2020 by thinking and acting outside the box, against the odds and the tide of the killjoy pandemic.

Merry Yorkshire Christmas, in whatever minimalist form you will be gathering.

Charles H

Explore York libraries, archives and reading cafes reopen this week after Lockdown 2

EXPLORE York libraries, archives and reading cafés will re-open for browsing and drop-ins from this week post-Lockdown 2.

The reading cafés at Hungate and Rowntree Park will resume eating-in and takeaway service from today (2/12/2020). On Friday (4/12/2020), all libraries will re-open for drop-ins, browsing and computer and printer use.

The Archives at York Explore will be open for pre-booked appointments from Friday; reading cafés at York Explore, Acomb and Tang Hall will open from that day too. 

Full information can be found at https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/were-back/

Explore York continues to provide a range of online Library At Home services:

* Online events and activities programme for people of all ages at: https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/digital/events-and-activities-this-autumn-and-winter/

* Free E-books and E-Audiobooks to borrow at: https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/digital/e-books

* Free newspapers and magazines via Press Reader at:  https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/digital/e-magazines/

In a nutshell…

YORK, Scarborough, Harrogate and North Yorkshire will be in Tier 2 from the end of Lockdown 2.

South and West Yorkshire and the Humber are doomed to Tier 3.

CharlesHutchPress will keep an eye on the impact on the arts: what’s on, what’s off, what’s what, in York and beyond.

As for London, the most densely populated city in the UK? Tier 2. What a surprise. The North-South divide rolls on…