What is the future of local journalism? Here comes the Sheffield Tribune’s new age

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IN Episode 99, Two Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson ponder the way forward for news delivery with Sheffield Tribune arts writer Liz Ryan at the dawn of the substack.

Under discussion too are the community play 122 Love Stories at a ghostly Harrogate Theatre; Irish comedian Jason Byrne’s upcoming Unblocked tour show and Bob Dylan’s auction value as a one-off recording is sold as a “work of art”.

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/11013649

Stored away for 30 years, Alison O’Neill’s unseen 1980s’ rock concert photographs go on show for first time at City Screen

Robert Smith of The Cure at Edinburgh Playhouse in 1985. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

ALISON O’Neill has never exhibited her photographs of 1980s’ rock musicians until now.

What took her so long? “Shyness,” says the North Yorkshire photographer and language services translator, whose Trapped In The Light exhibition of Robert Smith, Ian McCulloch et al is running in the Sky Lounge – the upstairs corridor – at City Screen Picturehouse, York, until September 10.

“Being in the right place at the right time takes luck and a bit of determination, and in the ’80s I had both, when I got to know The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen,” she says. “The opportunity this gave me yielded photos that show a fan’s eye view of bands both on and off stage.”

After studying Film & Literature at Warwick University, Alison moved to Berlin for a few years and then back to Yorkshire, where she became a freelance translator of German and Dutch into English.

Her black-and-white photographs remained filed away since those Eighties’ days, most seen only by Alison’s friends, until the drive to exhibit them was finally sparked by attending exhibitions by a friend in Berlin and rock photographer Richard Bellia in London.

On show at last – the exhibition was delayed by the pandemic – are photos taken between early 1982 and 1989 at locations from London to Edinburgh, featuring The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cramps, Wilko Johnson, Alan Vega and local bands.

“If you want a link between them, I think all the acts bar the Hastings band – seen on a weekend away – featured on John Peel’s Radio One show. But that’s as strong a link as it gets,” says Alison.

In the frame now: North Yorkshire photographer Alison O’Neill

Here CharlesHutchPress puts photographer Alison O’Neill in focus in a question-and-answer session about Trapped In The Light.

What is your connection with Yorkshire? Were you born here? 

“I can’t claim to be a Yorkshire native, because I was born down south (oh, the shame!).

 “But I was brought up in Yorkshire from an early age, Hull, then Pickering, so I have many friends here and my mother was still in the region, so I came back here after years away in the Midlands and Germany.”

How come the exhibition is at City Screen?

“When I asked around, City Screen were the first people to say yes to an exhibition – and it’s a brilliant space. Originally it was due to happen in May 2020 [before Covid intervened], and so the last two years’ wait has been worse than the 30-plus before.”

Alison O’Neill, pictured in 1984. “I was a Cure fan, not a Goth,” she says. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

When did you start taking photographs and what was your first camera?

“I got an Instamatic when I was eight. By the time I was 19, I seriously needed a better one, because the old camera wasn’t up to it.”

Why rock photography?

“I fell in love with music in my teens. And when I started photographing musicians, I realised that as they were engrossed in what they were doing, they aren’t (usually) self-conscious about photos being taken.”

Were you subjected to the long-standing “First three numbers and No flash” rule for concert photographers?

“Not in relation to the pictures in this exhibition. I was an amateur photographer, so often I couldn’t get my camera in at all, but in some cases the bands gave me passes, other times the venue wasn’t as strict. I didn’t use flash much anyway.”

Echo & The Bunnymen at Lancaster University in 1984. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

How did you get to know The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen? 

“Long stories! But I will say it was a lot easier to meet bands in those days. And they were very friendly and open and generous with passes. The Cure, in particular, often hung around after the show to sign stuff for anyone who wanted, so you could get to talk to them then.”

What drew you to those bands: the hair, the coats, the lips, the lipstick, the darkness…the music?!

“The emotion. The passion.”

Were you ever a Goth?

“No, I was a Cure fan!  But there was a time when the way The Cure fans dressed was like a prototype for Goths.”

Audience at hardcore gig, 1986. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

Which is your favourite 1980s’ album by The Cure and why? Likewise, Echo & The Bunnymen?

“I can’t do these! Years ago, I decided that I’d have to have Desert Island Bands, because I can’t choose between their albums.”

How did you gain access to photograph bands, both on stage and particularly off-stage?

“I’d ask, if I caught them going in. And once they knew me – and presumably I didn’t upset anyone – they were willing to let me hang around.”

Was your rock photography a hobby or were your works printed at the time in publications/magazines/fanzines?

“It was a hobby, although I would have liked to have worked professionally, but I lacked the confidence to sell my work. A few of my pictures have been used in the local press (Leamington), fanzines and once in a CD booklet for Nikki Sudden’s Groove (not one that’s in this exhibition).”

Thee Wylde Things at Hastings, 1987. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

You say: “Being in the right place at the right time takes luck and a bit of determination”. Discuss…

“Well, I’ve sneaked in back doors at venues in my time, and bluffed security guards. At a venue in Prague where I expected to be on the guest list (but wasn’t, at least they didn’t find my name), I talked to a doorman in English – which he clearly didn’t understand – for so long that he just took my arm and pulled me inside.”

Was it more difficult, being a female photographer?

“It certainly was to be taken seriously. I imagine it still is. I could dine well on the number of people, including friends, who, learning about my music fandom go ‘oh, so you’re a groupie’. Cue Paddington death stare.”

Did you photograph any bands in York in the 1980s?  If so, who, where and when?

“I did get to see TX82 – the last embodiment of Teardrop Explodes – at York Uni, but it was seated and I was near the back so I didn’t get anything good.”

Echo & The Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant backstage. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

Do you have a favourite among your photos?

“It’s a close thing between Robert Smith in profile seated backstage and Will Sergeant having just drawn a cartoon on a blackboard backstage.”

Why focus on black-and-white photography in this exhibition?

“Simply to give coherence to the selection. Likewise keeping it to a set period.”

When you look back at your work from the 1980s with a 2020s’ eye, what strikes you about your work?

“How lucky I was with the timing. So many exciting artists working in wildly differing styles, and the openness to outsiders (such as me) coming along.”

Wilko Johnson at Warwick University Students’ Union, 1985. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

What makes a good rock photographer and who is your favourite?

“I think you need a lot of patience. Anton Corbijn is my absolute favourite, but I’m lucky to have a print by Richard Bellia. I was a real photographer nerd back in the glory days of the NME and Melody Make, so I could list several more…”

Might you look to produce an accompanying book?

“I have put together a small photo book as a memento under the same title, Trapped In The Light. It’s my first try, so I’ve been waiting with bated breath to see how it’s worked out.

“My copy has arrived in time for the exhibition opening, which is rather impressive, given I only ordered it last Sunday.

“I can see a few things that need tweaking if I were to offer it for sale. The printer has a sale on, so for orders placed by August 14,I’ll be asking £34.95 plus postage and packaging. After that, the price would depend on what offers are available.”

The Cramps at Warwick Arts Centre, 1986. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

Final question, Alison. Do you still take photographs? If so, what do you now photograph and with what camera?

“I still have a film camera, but I don’t take it out that often. I did photograph The Murder Capital when they played The Crescent, but that was in 2019. And like everyone I use my mobile for shots of varying quality.”

Trapped In The Light, 1980s Music Photos by Alison O’Neill, runs at Sky Lounge, City Screen Picturehouse, Coney Street, York, August 7 to September 10. Admission is free, open daily. Limited-edition framed prints can be ordered at £195 to £395, depending on size.

Check out Alison’s website at www.ahoneill.net

Did you know?

THE exhibition title Trapped In The Light – an apt description of the photographer’s art – is taken from the lyrics to The Cure’s song M.

The poster for Alison O’Neill’s exhibition at City Screen Picturehouse, Trapped In The Light

More Things To Do in and around York on walls, in parks, by water, on stage and in future. List No. 94, courtesy of The Press

The Cure’s Robert Smith backstage, by Alison O’Neill, from her debut exhibition of 1980s’ music photos at City Screen, York. Copyright: Alison O’Neill

FROM The Cure’s Eighties’ photos to Ayckbourn’s lies, folk, riverside and walls festivals to folk’s future, Charles Hutchinson picks his highlights of the week ahead and beyond.

Exhibition launch of the week: Trapped In The Light, 1980s Music Photos by Alison O’Neill, Sky Lounge, City Screen Picturehouse, York, Sunday to September 10

ALISON O’Neill loved photographing The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cramps in the 1980s, but those black-and-white concert and backstage images have been in hibernation for more than three decades, never exhibited until now.

Why? “Shyness,” she says, but with the encouragement of a photographer friend in Berlin, she is letting those nocturnal photographic encounters see the light of day at last at City Screen.

Play of the week: Alan Ayckbourn’s All Lies, Esk Valley Theatre, Robinson Institute, Glaisdale, near Whitby, until August 27

When the little white lies start: Luke Dayhill and Saskia Strallen as the young couple in Alan Ayckbourn’s All Lies at Esk Valley Theatre. Picture: Steven Barber

FOLLOWING its initial run at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere, in May, Esk Valley Theatre presents the world premiere production of writer-director Alan Ayckbourn’s 86th full-length play.

The setting is 1957/1958, when a  when a chance meeting elicits love at first sight! The person of your dreams! But will they feel the same? Once you tell the truth about yourself, will you even be worthy of them? Do you take the plunge and reveal all? Or choose the dangerous alternative and tell them…All Lies?!

Questions, questions, so many Ayckbourn questions, in a play where it may be all lies but the truth is in there somewhere. Box office: 01947 897587.

Inside a tipi at the Boatyard York Festival

New festival of the week: The Boatyard York Summer Festival, Ferry Lane, Bishopthorpe, York, today, 11am to 7pm

THE Boatyard plays host to its first summer riverside festival this weekend, featuring live music from York bands and musicians, such as Up In Smoke, and an array of street food to suit meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Organised by Eva Brindley, this family-orientated day promises a Punch & Judy show, face-painting, fare stalls and games, ping pong and volleyball, plus canoe, kayak and day boat hire. Look out for the Bosun’s Oven café, wood-fired pizzas and summery drinks from the horsebox bar. Dogs are welcome; entry is free.

Lewis Capaldi: Heading to the East Coast on Thursday

Outdoor gig of the week; Lewis Capaldi, supported by Wild Youth and Aine Deane, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Thursday, gates 6pm. CANCELLED

UPDATE: 10/8/2022

LEWIS Capaldi has pulled out of his August 11 gig at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. The reason? Illness.

Ticket holders will be reimbursed fully.

SCOTTISH singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi spent ten weeks at the top of the charts with his May 2019 debut album, Divinely Inspired To A Hellish Extent. Alas, the wait goes on for the follow-up, and all the while you will find such questions as “Is Lewis Capaldi quitting?” and “What has happened to Lewis Capaldi” on the internet.

In July, the 25-year-old Glaswegian told his Latitude festival audience “I have no new music to play you”, calling himself “horribly lazy” when faced with “needing to finish my new album”. Looks like you will have to make do with Before You Go, Grace, Hollywood, Bruises et al once more on Thursday; the heartbeat of his first visit to Scarborough OAT in 2019 . Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Much ado about Nothing & Everything Else…and Z Is For Zelda at Theatre@41

Double bill of the week: Black Sheep Theatre in Nothing & Everything Else/Z Is For Zelda, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, August 10 to 13, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SHOWCASING the work of playwright and director Bethany Shilling, the first play is an offbeat comedy about a young woman performing at her very first stand-up comedy open-mic night where she uses the time to check in with herself mentally. 

The second is an attempt by Zelda Fitzgerald to share her life story. In doing so, she flits between her polished, performed self and the obscure ramblings that consume her mind. Is she mad or is this the final act of Zelda’s undeniable character? Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Seth Lakeman: Next Saturday’s main-stage headliner at The Magpies Festival. Picture: Tom Griffiths

Folk festival of the week: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, August 12, music from 6pm; August 13, music from 12.30pm

THE Magpies Festival has expanded from one day at last summer’s inaugural event to two in 2022, hosted again by The Magpies’ transatlantic folk trio of Bella Gaffney, Kate Griffin and Holly Brandon, ahead of this autumn’s release of their new album, Undertow.

Next Friday’s line-up will be: Jaywalkers; Elanor Moss; John Smith; Chris Elliott & Caitlin Jones and headliners Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra. Next Saturday presents Honey & The Bear; Dan Webster Band; Katie Spencer; The People Versus; David Ward Maclean; The Jellyman’s Daughter; Rory Butler; The Magpies plus guests; The 309s; The Drystones and main-stage headliner Seth Lakeman. Look out too for the food market and craft fair. Box office: themagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets

The poster for York Walls Festival 2022

Heritage event of the week: York Walls Festival 2022 Summer Weekend, August 13 and 14

THE Friends of York Walls will be partnering with York organisations and community groups to tell stories and promote “our shared community, history and heritage” next weekend.

The Friends look after the 500-year-old Fishergate Postern Tower on behalf of City of York Council and it is sure to feature in the festival, along with the Bar walls and Red Tower. For festival updates, head to: yorkwallsfestival.org.

Joshua Burnell & Band: Autumn tour takes in The Crescent in his home city of York. Picture: Elly Lucas

The future of folk: Joshua Burnell & Band, The Crescent, York, October 16, 8pm

JOSHUA Burnell & Band will play a home-city gig at The Crescent on his nine-date folk-fused baroque’n’roll autumn tour.

Multi-instrumentalist singer Burnell will be joined by globe-trotting violinist Frances Archer, guitarist Nathan Greaves, multi-instrumentalist Oliver Whitehouse, drummer Ed Simpson and vocalist Frances Sladen. “Think The War On Drugs meets Seth Lakeman on Ziggy Stardust’s spaceship,” he suggests. Tickets: joshuaburnell.co.uk/tour or ticketweb.co.uk.

Who’s better? Picasso or Warhol? Here’s the verdict of acerbic New Yorker Fran Lebowitz in arts podcast Two Big Egos…

Fran Lebowitz: Opinions aplenty at Grand Opera House, York

CULTURE vultures Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson mull over American writer and Netflix documentary acerbic wit Fran Lebowitz’s night with bite at the Grand Opera House, York, in Episode 98 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Under discussion too are Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant talking politics, The Smile’s detour from Radiohead and the new Suicide compilation.

Final thought: is the writing on the wall for Eng. Lit studies at university? To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/11013535

More Things To Do in York and beyond amid festival fever and a Viking reawakening. List No. 93, courtesy of The Press, York

Bull : York band play Deer Shed Festival 12 on Sunday

MUSIC in meadows and parks, a Viking community play and Osmondmania revisited, knitting and a superstar by the sea are Charles Hutchinson’s alternatives to summer holiday queues at ports.    

Festival of the weekend: Deer Shed Festival 12, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, near Thirsk, today and tomorrow

DEER Shed Festival 12 takes the theme of Pocket Planet, “a celebration of different things from different planets”, spanning live music, DJ sets, comedy, science, Fringe and children’s shows, spoken word, films, sports, workshops and wellbeing.

John Grant, from Buchanan, Michigan, headlines the main stage tonight, preceded by a special guest set from Self Esteem, alias Rebecca Lucy Taylor, from Sheffield/Rotherham. Art-rock Londoners  Django Django top Sunday’s bill, backed up by South London post-punk hipsters Dry Cleaning, while York’s ebullient Bull headline the Acorn Stage that night. For ticket details, head to: deershedfestival.com.

The Feeling: Headlining MeadowFest in Malton. Picture: Andy Hughes

The other festival at the weekend: MeadowFest, Talbot Hotel gardens and riverside meadows, Malton, today, 10am to 10pm

MALTON’S boutique midsummer music festival, MeadowFest, welcomes headliners The Feeling, Alistair Griffin, New York Brass Band, Huge and Hyde Family Jam to the main stage.

Performing on the Hay Bale Stage will be Flatcap Carnival, Ross McWhirter, Simon Snaize, George Rowell, Maggie Wakeling, Nick Rooke, The Twisty Turns and Graeme Hargreaves.

Children’s entertainment, inflatables, fairground rides, street food and a festival bar are further attractions. Bring folding chairs, picnics…and well-behaved dogs on leads. Tickets: tickettailor.com/events/visitmalton.

Kate Hampson in the title role of The Coppergate Woman, York Theatre Royal’s summer community play

Play of the week: The Coppergate Woman, York Theatre Royal, today until August 7

IN an ever-changing world, how do we hang on to who we are when the grounds are shifting beneath our feet? How do we look forward and rebuild, when the end times feel ever more real? In the heart of York lies a woman with the answers.

Discovered in a shallow pit by the River Foss, the remains of an unknown woman are displayed in a Jorvik Viking Centre glass cage for all to see. Until, one day, the visitors are no more, the city is quiet and the Coppergate Woman rises again in Maureen Lennon’s community play, directed by Juliet Forster and John R Wilkinson with a cast of 90 led by Kate Hampson. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Crowning glory: Annie Stothert’s papier-mâché sculpture at Blossom Street Gallery

Exhibitions of the week: Colourforms, by Fiona Lane and Claire West; Enchanted Forest, by Annie Stothert, Blossom Street Gallery, York

BLOSSOM Street Gallery has two exhibitions running simultaneously until the end of August.

Colourforms presents brightly coloured paintings by York Open Studios mixed-media artist Fiona Lane and “art to make you smile” painter Claire West, from Beverley. Enchanted Forest brings together a highly imaginative collection of papier-mâché sculptures by Annie Stothert, from Yorkshire, inspired by folklore, myth and fairy tales.

Yoshika Colwell: Knitting together music, metaphysics and words in Invisible Mending at the Stilly Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe taster of the week: Yoshika Colwell in Invisible Mending, Stilly Fringe, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 7pm

IN the summer of 2020 as a pandemic raged, Yoshika Colwell was processing the death of her beloved grandmother, Ann. A woman of few words, Ann’s main outlet was her glorious, virtuosic knitting. As she approached the end of her life, Ann started a project with no pattern and no end goal.

Yoshika takes up this piece where Ann left off, creating a show about love, grief and knitting with fellow experimental music/theatre-maker Max Barton, from Second Body. Original music, metaphysics and verbatim material combine to explore the power in small acts of creativity. Box office: atthemill.org.

How they became big in the Seventies: The Osmonds: A New Musical tells the family story in song at the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: The Osmonds: A New Musical, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday

YOU loved them for a reason. Now, for the first time, family drummer Jay Osmond turns his story into a family drama on the musical stage, offering the chance to re-live the ups and downs, the hits and the hysteria of the clean-living Seventies’ boy band from Utah, USA.

Directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Bill Deamer, this is Jay’s official account of how five brothers born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith were pushed into the spotlight as children on the Andy Williams Show and the hits then flowed, Crazy Horses, Let Me In et al. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Christina Aguilera: Biggest American female star to play Scarborough Open Air Theatre since Britney Spears

American superstar grand entrance of the week: Christina Aguilera, supported by Union J, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Tuesday, gates open at 6pm

CHRISTINA Aguilera piles up the Billboard Hot 100 hits, the Grammy awards and the 43 million record sales, to go with the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the honour of being the only artist under the age of 30 to feature in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

Add to those accolades her coaching on NBC’s The Voice and her role as a global spokesperson for World Hunger Relief. Tuesday, however, is all about Genie In A Bottle, Beautiful, What A Girl Wants, Dirty and Fighter. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Kate Pettitt: Kate Pettitt: One of the artists taking part in Arnup Studios Summer Open Weekend. Picture: Olivia Brabbs

Open studios of the week: Arnup Studios Summer Open Weekend, Panman Lane, Holtby, near York, August 6 and 7, 10am to 5pm

ARNUP Studios open their countryside doors for a weekend of art, craft and, fingers crossed, summer sunshine.

Once the home and workplace of the late potter and sculptor Mick and Sally Arnup, Arnup Studios are now run by daughter and stoneware potter Hannah, who oversaw their renovation. Liz Foster, Michelle Galloway, Kate Pettitt, Reg Walker, Emma Welsh and Hannah all have working studios there.

All but abstract sculptor Reg of these resident artists will be taking part, showing a mix of painting, print, drawing, ceramics and jewellery. They will be on hand to discuss their work and share processes and techniques with visitors, who are invitated to buy original one-off pieces of art and craft, smaller gifts and cards direct from the makers or simply to browse and enjoy the day.

As well as a small carpark on site, free on-street parking is available in the village. The studios are bike and dog friendly; families are welcome. 

Like father, like daughter, as Richard and Chantal Barnes return to York for According To McGee’s farewell to Tower Street show UPDATED 29/07/2022

Golden Memory Of York, by Richard Barnes, at According To McGee

AFTER 17 years, York contemporary gallery According To McGee is to close its Tower Street doors in September.

Acomb husband and wife and business duo Greg and Ails McGee are looking forward to the next stage but in the meantime they are “ready to go out with an incendiary confetti of contemporary collectibles”, as Greg puts it.

“Every chapter comes to an end,” says Ails, “And before we launch Part Two, we thought let’s finish our tenure at Tower Street by going full circle. We started back in 2005 with a Richard Barnes show, and I had just finished teaching his daughter Chantal Barnes as an A-Level student at Huntington School.

“Chantal is now an internationally sought-after artist and has work appearing in Vogue magazine, while Richard has retired from teaching art at Bootham School and is now a full-time painter after moving south from York.” 

Richard Barnes delivers the new Barnes + Barnes collections to the According To McGee curatorial team, Nell Bannister and Rhys Davies Brackett

Barnes at the double opened over the weekend. “This is a victory lap for us,” says Greg. “We are in many ways going back to our source with Richard’s York cityscapes, but the art scene in York has changed so much, and the paintings of both Barneses are now so collectible, that though we’re tipping the hat to our first exhibition, we’re much more excited about the here and now.

“The York that Richard paints feels very contemporary, very now, and the idiosyncratic vigour with which Chantal pushes paint around is a wholly new visual idea.”

Richard moved to “just north of London” a little over a year ago. “Both my daughters had had babies – on the same day in the same hospital! – and we were going up and down the country to see them,” he says, explaining the move south.

“I also think the experience of lockdown made us think about moving, giving me a new challenge of building a studio in the back garden. That’s been an exciting adventure, building it from scratch, with views out over the Chilterns.

“I’ve always thought of York as this incredibly exceptional place, and I’ve tried to make it magical in my paintings,” says Richard Barnes. Witness Magical Monk Bar, one of his new works at According To McGee

“It’s my absolute dream, having had all those experiences of painting for so long. I’ve designed it just right for painting big paintings – it’s like the length of a New York loft, but it’s not a warehouse! – and I’m able to paint paintings up to 16ft by 8ft.”

All Richard’s works on show are being exhibited for the first time, some developed from initial drawings in lockdown, some painted since leaving the city. “During lockdown, I was still in York. When it was completely empty, I’d walk into York city centre in the early morning, around six o’clock, and set up by the Minster,” he says.

“It was the most remarkable experience, where you could even hear the echo from the Minster walls of the birds flying by. It was like walking on an empty beach; a sensation you don’t ever experience in York.

“Painting by the Minster at that time made you much more aware that you were only there in this world for a brief moment, but the Minster had been there forever. That was a big influence on me wanting to do one last York hurrah, even though the paintings are in the same style as before.”

“The idiosyncratic vigour with which Chantal Barnes pushes paint around is a wholly new visual idea,” says According To McGee co-director Greg McGee

Richard still feels the magnetic pull of York. “There’s that yearning for a place when you leave, and I’m like that about York,” he says. “When I go back to do some drawings, I feel so drawn to it, having spent most of my artistic life there.

“I’ve always thought of York as this incredibly exceptional place, and I’ve tried to make it magical in my paintings. Leaving York has made it feel even more so. Getting there takes less than two hours on the train, and it’s now like a place of memory for me.  Because I’ve painted it so often, I wanted to capture that in one last exhibition for Greg and Ails.”

Greg looks back fondly over the McGees’ Tower Street years, not least Richard’s impact. “Richard really helped to galvanise our business plan back in 2005, which was at that point a general desire to exhibit exciting art. He helped distil that down into an irreducible manifesto.

“Go primarily for paintings, paintings that are instantly recognisable as being from the McGee stable. Grab the attention of passers-by, paint the gallery front yellow, which, although a Choir of Vision inception, had its roots in the initial vision Richard helped us shape.

Chantal Barnes at work on a painting

“Since then, we’ve exhibited Elaine Thomas CBE; Dave Pearson; ska legend Horace Panter, of The Specials. We’ve had exhibitions officially opened by Sir Ian Botham, when we launched art from Dubai celebrity artist Jim Wheat; 1960s’ painter and friend of The Beatles Doug Binder has had solo shows here.

“It’s been a wild and fulfilling ride here, opposite York’s most recognisable landmark [Clifford’s Tower], but the time has come to leave the building, and we’re doing it in style with Barnes + Barnes.”

Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes’ straddles According To McGee’s past as gallerists but looks forward too. “As an exhibition, it transcends this building, and so we’ll be ready to run it again in the future,” vows Greg.

“Where that will be, we can’t yet say, but that unpredictability, with the liberty and excitement that come with it, was the reason we got into running an art gallery in the first place. This exhibition reflects that. As soon as Chapter II emerges over the horizon, we’ll let you know.”

In turn keen to praise the McGees – who started their gallery under the name of The ArtSpace – Richard says: “Greg and Ails have made an exceptional contribution to the city’s contemporary art scene.

Greg and Ails McGee: One chapter is closing for According To McGee but another will open

“York is often seen through a traditional lens, but they have taken a bold approach by exhibiting all sorts of artists, and their first reason for exhibiting any artist hasn’t been for commercial potential but because they loved the work.

“They have taken that risk, and for someone to do that, to just say ‘let’s give this a go’, has made a huge impact on York’s art world. They could easily have played to the tourists, but they have steadfastly not done that.

“They’ve given so many artists a show who have gone on to be very successful. They always look to support artists, and because they’re very independent minded they don’t seek Arts Council backing, but artists reciprocate their support by wanting to exhibit there.”

Daughter Chantal is one such artist. Born and bred in York, she attended Huntington School, where her art teacher just happened to be a certain Ails McGee. “She really loved the vibe of the art department,” recalls Richard.

“She then studied Fine Art, Film and Television at Aberystwyth, graduating with a First, and supported her travels around the world with her painting, before becoming a successful television producer.

Artwork from the Barnes + Barnes exhibition by Chantal Barnes

“But during lockdown she realised she wanted to commit more fully to painting, and winning a prize at a North York Moors National Park exhibition [at the Inspired By…Gallery in Danby] encouraged her even more.”

Chantal began to paint abstract works to complement her landscapes and portraiture. “She’s been influenced by her experiences in North Yorkshire, painting the coast, and she’s had plenty of success in London, working with galleries and doing commissions, and in the States too,” says Richard,

“Her studio is very near mine and now our relationship is not just being her dad but being another artist too. The nice thing is that we can go to exhibitions together [in London] and she’s really in tune with much more contemporary work!”

For Barnes + Barnes, they have painted one work together of Wast Water in the Lake District. “The reason we chose there was because we did a joint exhibition with my mother in aid of Water Relief in Africa, and my mother had painted Wast Water for that show,” says Richard.

“As a tribute to her, Chantal and I went back to Wast Water to paint from the same viewpoint. We were hoping for one of those glorious, beautiful, sun-lit Lakes days, but it was one of those equally glorious, dark but spectacularly gloomy days!”

Seek out the resulting painting in Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes, running at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, until Sunday, September 25.

Greg and Ails McGee stand beside the bright yellow facade they introduced to According To McGee in 2018

 

Blossom Street Gallery in summer bloom with two exhibitions at once by Fiona Lane & Claire West and sculptor Annie Stothert

York artist Fiona Lane in her garden

BLOSSOM Street Gallery, in York, has two exhibitions running simultaneously until the end of August.

Colourforms presents brightly coloured paintings by Fiona Lane and Claire West; Enchanted Forest brings together a highly imaginative collection of papier-mâché sculptures by Annie Stothert, inspired by folklore, myth and fairy tales.

Painter and printmaker Claire West works from her studio in Beverley, East Yorkshire, exhibiting in galleries throughout Britain and licensing her art to major retailers.

“Art to make you smile”: Midsummer, by Claire West

Claire’s work is often used by television production companies too. “My aim is to spark joy both in others and myself,” she says. “I paint because it makes me happy. I hope that my work makes you smile too!”

Fiona Lane, a self-taught mixed-media artist from Claremont Terrace, Gillygate, York, is always developing her style.

Preferring to paint outside, whether in the woods, by the sea or in her flower-filled York courtyard, this 2022 York Open Studios artist stretches and smooths paint that she applies with palette knives and brushes, adding details with other media.

Soothingly immersive: a work full of colour and light by Fiona Lane

Painting seascapes and landscapes, mostly on canvas, she loves working with colour and light, creating “soothingly immersive” pictures.

Annie Stothert trained in graphics at Carlisle but since raising a family she has become interested in papier mâché and its possibilities as a medium for creating sculptural pieces.

Based in Yorkshire for 30 years, her work ranges from small decorations to large whimsical pieces, taking inspiration from nature, mythology and illustration. 

A whimsical sculptural work in papier-mâché by Annie Stothert

The pieces are created using traditional papier-mâché techniques, with the addition of other mixed media, and are hand painted with acrylic paints before being varnished.

Opening hours at Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, are Thursdays, 12 noon to 4pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am to 4pm; Sundays, 10am to 3pm.

Papier-mâché sculptor Annie Stothert

Like father, like daughter, as Richard and Chantal Barnes return to York for According To McGee’s farewell to Tower Street show

Golden Memory Of York, by Richard Barnes

AFTER 17 years, York contemporary gallery According To McGee is to close its Tower Street doors in September.

Acomb husband and wife and business duo Greg and Ails McGee are looking forward to the next stage but in the meantime they are “ready to go out with an incendiary confetti of contemporary collectibles”, as Greg puts it.

“Every chapter comes to an end,” says Ails, “And before we launch Part Two, we thought let’s finish our tenure at Tower Street by going full circle. We started back in 2005 with a Richard Barnes show, and I had just finished teaching his daughter Chantal Barnes as an A-Level student at Huntington School.

“The idiosyncratic vigour with which Chantal Barnes pushes paint around is a wholly new visual idea,” says According To McGee co-director Greg McGee

“Chantal is now an internationally sought-after artist and has work appearing in Vogue magazine, while Richard has retired from teaching at Bootham School and is now a full-time painter after moving south from York.” 

Barnes at the double goes on show at According To McGee today. “This is a victory lap for us,” says Greg. “We are in many ways going back to our source with Richard’s York cityscapes, but the art scene in York has changed so much, and the paintings of both Barneses are now so collectible, that though we’re tipping the hat to our first exhibition, we’re much more excited about the here and now.

“The York that Richard paints feels very contemporary, very now, and the idiosyncratic vigour with which Chantal pushes paint around is a wholly new visual idea.”

Richard Barnes delivers the new Barnes + Barnes collections to the According To McGee curatorial team, Nell Bannister and Rhys Davies Brackett

Greg looks back fondly over the McGees’ Tower Street years. “Richard really helped to galvanise our business plan back in 2005, which was at that point a general desire to exhibit exciting art. He helped distil that down into an irreducible manifesto.

“Go primarily for paintings, paintings that are instantly recognisable as being from the McGee stable. Grab the attention of passers-by, paint the gallery front yellow, which, although a Choir of Vision inception, had its roots in the initial vision Richard helped us shape.

“Since then, we’ve exhibited Elaine Thomas CBE; Dave Pearson; ska legend Horace Panter, of The Specials. We’ve had exhibitions officially opened by Sir Ian Botham, when we launched art from Dubai celebrity artist Jim Wheat; 1960s’ painter and friend of The Beatles Doug Binder has had solo shows here.

Magical Monk Bar, by Richard Barnes

“It’s been a wild and fulfilling ride here, opposite York’s most recognisable landmark [Clifford’s Tower], but the time has come to leave the building, and we’re doing it in style with Barnes + Barnes.”

Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes’ straddles According To McGee’s past as gallerists but also looks forward. “As an exhibition, it transcends this building, and so we’ll be ready to run it again in the future,” vows Greg.

“Where that will be, we can’t yet say, but that unpredictability, with the liberty and excitement that come with it, was the reason we got into running an art gallery in the first place. This exhibition reflects that. As soon as Chapter II emerges over the horizon, we’ll let you know.”

Contemporary Painting: Barnes + Barnes runs from today (23/7/2022) to Sunday, September 25, at According To McGee, Tower Street, York. For more information, visit www.accordingtomcgee.com

Chantal Barnes at work on a painting

More Things To Do in York and beyond in a world of Gods, Romans, a tiger and a sexbomb. List No. 92, courtesy of The Press

Alexander Flanagan Wright, left, Phil Grainger and Megan Drury in The Gods The Gods The Gods at Stillington Mill for four nights. Picture: Tom Figgins

GODS on the Fringe, battling Romans, a riverside market, a Welsh icon and a thirsty Tiger are courting Charles Hutchinson’s attention on the art beat.

Theatre event of the week: Wright & Grainger in The Gods The Gods The Gods, Stilly Fringe, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tonight, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, 8.45pm

ALEXANDER Flanagan Wright and Phil Grainger believe that three is indeed the magic number. Hence The Gods The Gods The Gods as a title for their third triad of myths, spoken word and music after Orpheus and Eurydice, and their first with a third participant, Australian actor, writer and dramaturg, Megan Drury.

Not everything is about threes, however. There will be four stories and 11 tracks in a show full of big beats, soaring melodies and heart-stopping words as Wright & Grainger head to the crossroads where mythology meets real life. Box office: atthemill.org.

Silversmith and jewellery designer Jen Ricketts: One of 42 artists and makers taking part in Ryedale Open Studios. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Art event of the week outside York: Ryedale Open Studios, today, tomorrow, July 30 and 31, 10am to 5pm

FOUNDED by Layla Khoo, Kirsty Kirk and Petra Young, the second Ryedale Open Studios gives visitors the chance to explore the district’s creative talents and skills, ranging from painting, printing, drawing and photography to ceramics, textiles, metalwork and willow weaving.

More than 40 artists are participating in an event organised by Vault Arts Centre. Head to ryedaleopenstudios.com, where a printable map and handbook can be downloaded.

Miles And The Chain Gang: Busy weekend ahead

Miles ahead: Miles And The Chain Gang, Helmsley Arts Centre, tonight, 7.30pm; Harrogate Blues Bar, Montpellier Parade, Harrogate, Sunday, 9pm

YORK poet, radio presenter, festival founder, singer and songwriter Miles Salter and his new line-up of The Chain Gang head to Helmsley and Harrogate this weekend.

Crawling from the swamps of North Yorkshire, with the bit between their teeth and the blues biting at their heels, The Chain Gang will be making their Helmsley debut. Taking their cues from Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Led Zeppelin and early 1980s’ new wave, Salter and co deliver a potent brew of their own tunes as well as classics by Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell and more besides.

“There’s quite a crowd coming to Helmsley but some tickets are available, and you can book online at helmsleyartscentre.co.uk,” says Miles. “Both gigs will feature all the songs we have on YouTube: When It Comes To You, Drag Me To The Light, All Of Our Lives and latest single Love Is Blind, a song played more than 300 times on radio stations in the UK, Europe and USA.” For Harrogate details, head to: bluesbar.co.uk.

What did the Romans ever do for us? Time to find out at the first Malton Museum Roman Festival

Festival of the week: Malton Museum Roman Festival, Sunday, 11am to 3.30pm

MALTON Museum is hosting its inaugural Roman Festival this weekend at the Roman Fort on Orchard Fields.

Live action demonstrations will be staged in the arena by experimental archaeologists Equistry (Roman Cavalry) and re-enactment group Magister Militum will establish a Roman Legionary encampment and engage in battle sequences.

Children can join the Children’s Roman Army, paint shields, create mosaics, try wax tablet drawing and take part in archaeology activities. Tickets: maltonmuseum.co.uk.

Teatime mayhem amid much munching: The Tiger Who Came To Tea tucks in at the Grand Opera House, York

Children’s show of the week: The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 2pm; Tuesday and Wednesday, 11am, 2pm

WHAT happens when a Tiger knocks on the door at teatime? You better let Tiger in as the tea guzzler in Judith Kerry’s story returns to the road in this award-winning family show after a West End season.

Expect oodles of magic, singalong songs and clumsy chaos in a stage adaptation full of teatime mayhem and surprises, suitable for age three upwards. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Sexbomb alert: Sir Tom Jones soon to hit Scarborough

Knight’s night out of the week: Sir Tom Jones, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Tuesday, gates open at 6pm

PONTYPRIDD powerhouse Sir Tom Jones heads to the Yorkshire coast with another number one album in his pocket, Surrounded By Time, his 41st studio set, no less.

Maybe singles Talking Reality Television Blues, No Hole In My Head, One More Cup Of Coffee and Pop Star from that April 2021 album will feature in the 82-year-old Welshman’s set. The likes of Delilah, Green Green Grass Of Home, It’s Not Unusual, She’s A Lady, You’re My World, What’s New Pussycat?, Kiss and Sexbomb surely will. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Look sharp for a ticket: Joe Jackson welcomes sinners to his very rare York concert on Friday

Rearranged gig of the week: Joe Jackson, Sing, You Sinners! Tour, York Barbican, Friday, 8pm

FAMILIAR foe Covid-19 delayed only the second ever York concert of singer, songwriter and consummate arranger Joe Jackson’s 44-year career, put back from March 17 to July 29.

Better late than never, Jackson promises hits, songs not aired in years and new material, performed in the company of Graham Maby on bass, Teddy Kumpel on guitar and Doug Yowell on drums and electronics. 

A mini-solo set is on the cards too in Jackson’s only Yorkshire gig of his European tour; his first York appearance since the Grand Opera House in June 2005. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

A montage of work by artists and makers taking part in this summer’s York River Art Market

York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, River Ouse, York, July 30 and 31; August 6 and 7; August 13 and 14

YORK River Art Market returns for its seventh summer, this time spread over three full weekends. Drawing comparisons with the Left Bank in Paris, this open-air market is free of charge and provides the chance to browse and buy directly from artists showcasing their creative wares along the riverside railings.

Each market will showcase a different variety of 30 artists with the guarantee that no two markets are ever the same. Look out for paintings, prints, jewellery, textiles, glass work, ceramics, maybe even artisan shaving cream (one of last summer’s hit stalls).

The tour poster for Michael Palin’s new travel show, From North Korea Into Iraq, bound for the Grand Opera House, York

Show announcement of the week: Michael Palin, From North Korea Into Iraq, Grand Opera House, York, October 6

MONTY Python comedy legend and intrepid globetrotter Michael Palin will give a first-hand account of his extraordinary journeys through two countries on the dark side of history on his new solo tour this autumn.

Using photos and film, he will recall his challenging adventures in the tightly controlled time bomb of the People’s Republic of North Korea and the bruised land of Iraq, once the home of civilisation, torn apart over the past 30 years by brutal war and bloodshed.

Palin’s theatre tour will be preceded by his new Channel 5 series, Michael Palin: Into Iraq. York tickets: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

42 artists and makers take part in Ryedale Open Studios over next two weekends

Ryedale Open Studios founders and directors Kirsty Kirk, left, Layla Khoo and Petra Young. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

ARTISTS across Ryedale are preparing to open their studios to the public on Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend from 10am to 5pm each day.

In the wake of last summer’s first ever Ryedale Open Studios, the sequel will give visitors the chance to explore the variety of creative talents and skills in the district, ranging from painting, printing, drawing and photography to ceramics, textiles, metalwork and willow weaving.

More than 40 artists will be participating in an event organised by Vault Arts Centre, a Community Interest Company founded to develop arts activities and events in the Ryedale area, with financial support from Ryedale District Council.

Ceramicist Iona Stock. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Its founders and directors are Layla Khoo, Kirsty Kirk and Petra Young. Kirkbymoorside ceramicist Layla will be taking part in the open weekends; former South London primary school art teacher Kirsty co-founded and ran makers’ markets in East London and now runs a holiday cottage complex near Pickering; Petra is Forestry England’s funding and development manager.

She was instrumental in developing the arts strategy for Dalby Forest, near Pickering, in 2017 and has been working on establishing Dalby as a destination for high-quality arts activities ever since.

Phillip Spurr, director of place and resources for Ryedale District Council, says: “Arts and culture in Ryedale is key to our identity. It nourishes the roots of our communities and helps make the district what it is. I’d encourage residents and visitors alike to attend the Open Studios event to support our arts and culture industry.”

Silversmith and jewellery designer Jen Ricketts. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

To find out more about all 42 artists, head to ryedaleopenstudios.com, where a printable map and handbook can be downloaded.

Taking part will be: Aeva Denham, mixed media; Alex Jones, wildlife oil paintings; Alice O’Neill, papercut and collage; Amanda Pickles, mixed media; Angela Cole, basket designs in willow; Anna Matyus, printmaking; Caleb Matyus, decorative blacksmith works; Carol Messham, garden watercolours and polymer clay pictures, jewellery and mobiles.

Charlotte Elizabeth Lane, large-scale sky and ocean paintings; Charlotte Salt, ceramics and still-life drawings; Christine Hughes, textiles and home interiors; Colin Culley, paintings of natural world; Eleanor Walker, textiles and weaving; Environmental Art, blacksmith sculpture and abstract textiles; Evanna Denham, pencil pieces full of meaning.

Hannah Turlington, mixed media, printmaking and textiles; Harry Oyston, drawings; Heather Niven, painting and ceramic sculpture; Helen Milen, Studio Milena textiles; Iona Stock, functional and sculptural ceramics; Ione Harrison, watercolour and gouache paintings; Janet Poole, plein-air paintings in oil, watercolour and pastel.

Painter and printmaker Meg Ricketts. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Jayne Hutchinson Raine, drawings, paintings and linocuts; Jen Ricketts, silversmithing and jewellery; Jo Naden, sculptures of myth, legend and culture; Kitty Bellamy, oil paintings and charcoal drawings of animals and people; Layla Khoo, ceramics; Meg Ricketts, collagraph prints, dry-point etchings and lino prints; Millie McCallum, paintings, collages and linocuts; Pamela Thorby, ceramics informed by Ryedale’s beauty.

Patrick Smith, painting and printmaking; Pauline Brown, paintings and drawings of Farndale; Philip Barraclough, art pencil works and watercolours; Rachel Rimell, photography on themes of identity and transition; Robert Broughton, fine art photography inspired by natural world; Ros Walker, functional and sculptural ceramics, jewellery and mixed-media paintings.

Ruth Kneeshaw, needlefelt landscapes and animal sculptures; Sally Tozer, ceramic sculptures; Sarah Cawthray, ceramics celebrating individuality; Susan Walsh, eco-printed textiles and paper; Suzie Devey, printmaking and automata; Tessa Bunney, rural life photography.

Photographer Tessa Bunney

In addition, all but four of the 42 artists are represented by one or two of their pieces in an accompanying exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole until September 5. Only Charlotte Elizabeth Lane, Janet Poole, Jen Ricketts and Millie McCallum are absent.

“This is new for this year’s Open Studios and we’re very pleased to be able to show the fabulous talent of Ryedale in one place,” says Petra Young. “We hope this will bring more visitors to Ryedale Folk Museum, and at the same time we hope this will encourage museum visitors to explore Ryedale further through visits to artists’ homes.”

Admission to the exhibition is free; museum opening hours are 10am to 5pm, Saturday to Thursday; closed on Fridays.