John Thornton to launch new works of land & sea at Kentmere House Gallery on June 1

Across A Field To The Sea, by John Thornton

JOHN Thornton’s new exhibition, Across The Fields To The Sea, opens at Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, on June 1.

“John is everyone’s favourite painter,” says gallery owner and curator Ann Petherick. “I’m delighted he has produced a new and exciting collection of paintings of woodlands and meadows and the occasional seascape, inspired by his travels in Yorkshire since the end of Covid.”

Born in York in 1944, John moved to Selby at the age of eight. He spent three years in Cornwall in his 20s, retaining a deep affection for that county, then moved to London for five years, since when he has lived and worked in Selby.

In the 1970s, John made leather clothing to sell in London’s King’s Road, but for most of his life he has made his living working in wood: carving, renovating carousel horses and making and repairing furniture.

John Thornton at work in his studio

This involvement with the creative process was combined with a life-long interest in painting. Come March 2004, he made the bold decision to paint full-time.

He experiments continually with painting media, using acrylic, watercolour gouache and ink, mixed with elements such as sand to create the textures in his paintings and to enable the materials to run and bleed into each other.

John has always had a love of the sea, leading him to produce seascapes that capture its constant changes in nature and mood. Visits to Cornwall, or the coast around Scarborough and Whitby that especially fascinates him, provide endless inspiration, as well as materials collected while beachcombing to be incorporated in his works.

He uses photographs as reference material, particularly to observe the effect of light on water, but otherwise works from brief sketches and memory.

Allerthorpe Wood, near Pocklington, by John Thornton

In addition, he has begun to paint woodland scenes, especially of the nature reserves at Askham Bog, on the outskirts of York, and Skipwith Common, near Selby.

“Painting for me is not only about pleasure; it is also a challenge to create a piece that reflects and captures the essence of a subject,” says John. “If people can sense and appreciate those aspects of my work, I feel that I have in part achieved my intention.”

In 2001, he entered the Leeds Open Exhibition and Ferens Gallery Open Exhibition in Hull, both for the first time, becoming one of five prize winners in Hull. He has since shown regularly at both venues.

In 2003, John made his Royal Society of Marine Artists debut at the Mall Galleries in London, where his work has been accepted for display each year since then, leading to his invitation to become a member. In addition, he exhibits with galleries in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Wiltshire.

Blue Sky, Green Sea, by John Thornton

“It was in 2001 at the Ferens Gallery that I first spotted his work,” says Ann Petherick. “He has been showing at Kentmere House since 2002 and is one of our most successful artists.

“He took part in Northern Colour, an exhibition organised by Kentmere House at Newby Hall, near Ripon, where he was the best-selling artist. All this has provided a well-deserved boost to his confidence and persuaded him to continue experimenting with different techniques and subject matters.”

John’s work is permanently on show at Kentmere House Gallery and is in the University of York collection, and elsewhere he has exhibited at Scarborough Art Gallery, Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk, Chantry House Gallery, Ripley, King’s Manor, York, Castle Howard, Godfrey & Watt, Harrogate, Langwith College, York, Doncaster Art Gallery and Selby Town Hall.

Kentmere House Gallery is open on the first weekend of each month, including June 1 and 2, from 11am to 5pm; every Thursday, from 6pm to 9pm, and at any other time by appointment on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825. “Best to ring first if travelling any distance,” advises Ann.

What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond food, glorious food. Here’s Hutch’s List No 17 for 2024, from Gazette & Herald

Jeanette Hunter’s Wicked Witch, right, in rehearsal for York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz with Daan Janssen’s Lion, left, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man, Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy and Toto puppeteer Adam Gill

FOOD for thought for the cultural week ahead, from the Yellow Brick Road to Heaven revisited, a foodie festival to Laurie Lee, seascapes to coastal Dexys, as Charles Hutchinson reports.

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in The Wizard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time next week, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. 

Velma Celli’s Show Queen: Celebrating the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits at York Theatre Royal

Cabaret celebration of the week: Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow (23/5/2024), 7.30pm

DRAG diva Velma Celli, the alter ego of York actor Ian Stroughair, goes back to Ian’s roots in Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent for a new celebration of the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits.

The show “takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!”. Special guests will be burlesque star Miss Betsy Rose and belting York singer Jessica Steel. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Ferguson: Liverpool soul singer’s last album and tour at 37

Soul gig of the week: Rebecca Ferguson, Heaven Part II Tour, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm

LIVERPOOL soul singer and The X Factor alumna Rebecca Ferguson is touring her fifth and final album, Heaven Part II, released last December 12 years to the day since her debut, Heaven.

Working with new contributors and original Heaven writers and producers, Ferguson sings of love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness over the past seven years. She is, however, calling time on recording and touring to “find a way to have a relationship with music which is positive”. Friday’s support acts will be York country singer Twinnie and Eloise Viola. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival: Look out for the festival guide and map on site

Festival of the week: Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival, Saturday, from 9am; Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, from 10am

ON the streets of “Yorkshire’s Food Capital”, Malton Food Lovers Festival celebrates Yorkshire’s supreme produce and cooking over three days of 120 artisan stalls and street food vendors, talks, tastings, chef demonstrations, brass bands and buskers, festival bar, food shops, sculpture trail, entertainment, blacksmith workshops, vintage funfair and family fun with Be Amazing Arts’ Creativitent, Environmental Art’s Creative Chaos and Magical Quests North.

The live musicians will be: Saturday, Malton White Star Band, 11am to 1pm, The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Oz Ward, 6pm to 8pm; Sunday, White Star Training Band, 11.30am to 12.30pm, and The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Monday, The Acoustic Buddies, 11am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm. Festival entry is free.

Kirkby Soul: Playing outdoors at Hemsley Walled Garden on Saturday

Fundraiser of the week: Kirkby Soul, Helmsley Walled Garden, Helmsley, Saturday, 7.30pm

RYEDALE eight-piece band Kirkby Soul present an evening of soul music in aid of Helmsley Arts Centre and Helmsley Walled Garden. Bring chairs, cushions, blankets, dancing shoes and picnics. A paying bar will be operation in the orchid house. Come prepared for the British weather! A marquee will be erected just in case. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Anton Lesser: Performing in Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music at Grand Opera House, York

Literary event of the week: Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music, Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm

AUTHOR Laurie Lee’s extraordinary story is told in a captivating weave of music and his own words in Red Sky At Sunrise, performed by actors Anton Lesser and Charlie Hamblett, accompanied by David Le Page’s musical programme for Orchestra Of The Swan.

Together they celebrate Lee’s engaging humour, as well as portraying his darker side, in a performance that has startling resonance with modern events, tracing Lee’s path through Cider With Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment Of War as he ended up fighting with the International Brigades against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Jo’s Place, seascape, by Carolyn Coles, from her Home Is Where The Heart Is exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

Exhibition launch: Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1

CREATING atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, Carolyn reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape, offering a direct response to the feelings and connections to places that feel like home. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30, when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

Dirty Ruby: Ryedale Blues’ headliners at Milton Rooms, Malton

Blues gig of the week: Ryedale Blues presents Dirty Ruby, Milton Rooms, Malton, May 30, 8pm

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE five-piece Dirty Ruby have drawn comparisons with Seventies’ bands Stone The Crows and Vinegar Joe in their energetic, sharp-edged blues rock, combining Hammond organ and bluesy guitar with soulful lead vocals. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Dexys: Showcasing The Feminine Divine at Scarborough Spa

Coastal trip of the week: Dexys, Scarborough Spa Grand Hall, May 30, doors 7pm

AFTER playing York for the first time in their 45-year career last September, Dexys return to North Yorkshire on the latest leg of The Feminine Divine Live!

Led as ever by Kevin Rowland, Dexys open with a theatrical presentation of last year’s album, The Feminine Divine, to be followed by a second soulful set of beloved hits, from Come On Eileen and Jackie Wilson Said to The Celtic Soul Brothers and Geno. Box office: 01723 376774 or scarboroughspa.co.uk.

In Focus: The 1879 FA Cup clash of Darwen FC and the Old Etonians in The Giant Killers at Milton Rooms, Malton

The tour poster for Long Lane Theatre Club’s The Giant Killers

MANCHESTER United meet “noisy neighbours” Manchester City in the 143rd FA Cup final on Saturday, coinciding with the tour launch of a fitting theatrical tribute to the competition’s early days.

Staged by Long Lane Theatre Club, The Giant Killers tells the story of how Darwen FC came to the public’s attention in 1870s’ Lancashire to proclaim Association Football as a people’s game and not only the preserve of the upper classes.

Good news for Malton, the story of Darwen’s FA Cup clashes with the toffs of the Old Etonians is booked to appear at the Milton Rooms on July 4 (now confirmed as the date for another battle, the 2024 General Election).

The Giant Killers recounts how a ragtag bunch of mill workers in Darwen took on the amateur gentleman’s club of the Old Etonians in the FA Cup quarter-final in 1879. The Old Etonians were winning 5-1 but Darwen rallied to force a replay after a 5-5 draw. 

One replay turned into three, with one abandoned through bad light. Forced to travel to London a very expensive three times and with team members losing a day’s work, Darwen eventually succumbed 6-2, but their story of working-class men inspiring a nation enabled the top hats in football crowds to turn into ‘’a sea of flat caps’’.

Kick-off – or kick-toff! – will be at 7.30pm for Andrew Pearson-Wright & Eve Pearson-Wright’s story of how Darwen FC rose up against prevailing social prejudice and the might of the Football Association to earn a place in history as the first real ‘‘giant killers’’ in English football. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Home is where the heart and art is for South Bank artist Carolyn Coles as she launches seascape show at Bluebird Bakery

Home Is Where The Heart Is, the seascape that provides the title for Carolyn Coles’s exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

BLUEBIRD Bakery, in Acomb Road, Acomb, is where the art is from May 30 when Carolyn Coles unveils Home Is Where The Heart Is.

Specialising in atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, her latest exhibition reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape in paintings that offer a direct connection to places that feel like home.

Carolyn’s artistic journey is flourishing within the womb of South Bank Studios, where 19 artists share workspaces and collaborate in their creative endeavours. Often she can be found working in her studio or in the open air with an easel or sketchbook.

York artist Caroyn Coles in her South Bank studio

Her education and career path have focused on creativity as a main drive, working initially in marketing for a mail order arts and crafts material company, then for Newsquest in editorial graphics and the advertising graphics department at The York Press, in Walmgate.

Utilising her background of studies of general art, illustration and design, Carolyn finally realised her dream of being a professional fine artist and now sells work at home and internationally, with a waiting list for commissions, as well as participating regularly in York Open Studios.

Exploring colour, mark making and emotion, Home Is Where The Heart Is highlights a challenging period for Carolyn, who lost her mother, Jo, soon after the works were produced.

Jo’s Place, by Carolyn Coles, painted in honour of her late mother

“My mother certainly inspired a new use of colour and direction, with her advice that ‘light can brighten people up’ during one of our many chats on Messenger,” says Carolyn.

One of the pieces emerged in direct response to what she imagined as the perfect piece, Jo describing this plainly as: “Beautiful moorland, colourful heather, sparkling water on lake”. Jo’s Place was completed after she passed away, in her memory, fuelled by Carolyn’s need for connection. “I use art as therapy and always have,” she says.

 “It’s not that I don’t like using colour. I just really enjoy the soft subtle mood that the seascapes often bring – which is why I have a relatively muted palette. I really wanted to connect with my love of nature, differently and in honour of Mum, so I chose to turn my usual style on its head and pick colours that really vibrate with each other.”

The best example of this, she says, is Home Is Where The Heart Is “because it represents how I feel when I approach that area of the Yorkshire coast” (at Port Mulgrave).

Wild Temptation, seascape, by Carolyn Coles

“It’s an area that I used to go a lot when I was younger. The area is simply stunning. I’ve been there in every weather and have always felt extreme happiness. It makes my heart sing.”

Other pieces are much more explosive in technique. “I managed this by using a whole array of different tools, including window squeegees, sweeping brushes, palette knives. I made a right mess of my studio and loved every minute of it,” says Carolyn. 

“When you start working on a scale this large – 1.5m – you really do have to go up in brush size. I found some lovely decorators’ brushes, and some of them really create waves brilliantly. I couldn’t possibly go into too much detail, otherwise I knew I would end up getting sucked into some kind of peculiar vortex of insanity. I’ll leave that for other artists!”

Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb Road, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30 when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

The poster for Carolyn Coles’s Home Is Where The Heart Is exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

More Things To Do in York and beyond when the wonderful and the wicked await. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 21, from The Press

Mikron Theatre cast members Eddie Ahrens, left, Mark Emmon, Georgina Liley and Lauren Robinson: Presenting an outdoor performance of Common Ground at Scarcoft Allotments, York, on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robling Photography

FROM land access tales to the Yellow Brick Road, wonderful words about wellies to a journey through isolation, show song heights to a soulful heaven, Charles Hutchinson follows the path to cultural discovery.

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, May 19, 2pm

ON tour on narrow boat and canal, van and land until October 18, Marsden company Mikron Theatre present Common Ground, writer and lyricist Poppy Hollman’s hike through the history of land access in England, where only eight per cent of land is designated “open country”.

Under the direction of Gitika Buttoo, actor-musicians Eddie Ahrens, Georgina Liley, Lauren Robinson and Mark Emmon tell the tale of the fictional Pendale and District Ramblers as they look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary walk, but the path has been blocked by the landowner. How will they find their way through? No reserved seating or tickets required; a “pay what you feel” collection will be taken post-show.

Harry Baker: Wonderful words by the slam champ at The Crescent

Spoken word gig of the week: Say Owt presents Harry Baker: Wonderful, The Crescent, York, May 20, 7.30pm

WORLD Poetry Slam champion Harry Baker is a poet, mathematician, stand-up comic and writer who reflects on “important stuff”, whether hope, dinosaurs or German falafel spoons, as found in his new poetry collection, Wonderful, published by Burning Eye this month.

On his 30-date Wonderful tour, the “maths-loving, TED-talking, German-speaking, battle-rapping, happy-crying, self-bio-writing unashamed human” brings his signature playfulness and poignancy to new poems about wellies, postcodes, sunflowers, sticky toffee pudding and his favourite German wheat beer. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Jeanette Hunter: Heading to the dark side as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in The Wizard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time next week, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Miranda Sykes: Songs of isolation, illness and recovery at Black Swan Folk Club

Folk gig of the week: Miranda Sykes, Out Of The Woods Tour, Black Swan Folk Club, Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, May 23, 7.30pm

SHOW Of Hands and Daphne’s Flight member Miranda Sykes promotes her pandemic-scarred March album Out Of The Woods in her debut Black Swan solo gig, showcasing songs that chart her journey through isolation, illness and recovery with the aim of bringing comfort after such turbulent years.

“Life is many faceted; like most people I’ve had good times and hard times,” says the Lincolnshire-born singer, double bass player and guitarist. “I’ve taken some forks in the road I shouldn’t have done and I’ve had some knocks, but it’s all part of who I am now.”  Box office: blackswanfolkclub.org.uk.

Velma Celli’s Show Queen: Celebrating the best of West End and Broadway musical theatre at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Sophie Eleanor

Cabaret celebration of the week: Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, May 23, 7.30pm

DRAG diva Velma Celli, the alter ego of York actor Ian Stroughair, goes back to Ian’s roots in Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent for a new celebration of the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits.

The show “takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!”. Special guests will be burlesque star Miss Betsy Rose and belting York singer Jessica Steel. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Ferguson: Final album and tour at 37

Soul gig of the week: Rebecca Ferguson, Heaven Part II Tour, York Barbican, May 24, 7.30pm

LIVERPOOL soul singer and The X Factor alumna Rebecca Ferguson is touring her fifth and final album, Heaven Part II, released last December 12 years to the day since her debut, Heaven.

Working with new contributors and original Heaven writers and producers, Ferguson sings of love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness over the past seven years. She is, however, calling time on recording and touring to “find a way to have a relationship with music which is positive”. Friday’s support acts will be York country singer Twinnie and Eloise Viola. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Anton Lesser in Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music at Grand Opera House, York

Literary event of the week: Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music, Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm

AUTHOR Laurie Lee’s extraordinary story is told in a captivating weave of music and his own words in Red Sky At Sunrise, performed by actors Anton Lesser and Charlie Hamblett, accompanied by David Le Page’s musical programme for Orchestra Of The Swan.

Together, they celebrate Lee’s engaging humour, as well as portraying his darker side, in a performance that has startling resonance with modern events, tracing Lee’s path through Cider With Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment Of War as he ended up fighting with the International Brigades against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Home Is Where The Heart Is, seascape, by Carolyn Coles, from her exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

Exhibition launch: Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1

CREATING atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, Carolyn reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape, offering a direct response to the feelings and connections to places that feel like home. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30, when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

Michaela Yearwood-Dan brings flower power 2024 style to York Art Gallery for National Treasures: Monet in York

Artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, on her 30th birthday, stands between her Una Sinfonia works Ready,Steady, GO! (Spring) and The Girls Take Their Places (Summer) at York Art Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham. The works are the copyright of Michaela Yearwood-Dan, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen

WHERE better for internationally acclaimed artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan to spend her 30th birthday than at the launch of her commissioned contribution to National Treasures: Monet in York at York Art Gallery.

On show until September 8, Una Sinfonia is Londoner Michaela’s response to French Impressionist Claude Monet’s 1899 masterpiece The Water-Lily Pond, the centrepiece of one of 12 exhibitions nationwide to mark the National Gallery’s bicentenary – and the only one in Yorkshire.

“Being commissioned to make this new body of work in response to Monet’s legacy – and The Water-Lily Pond in particular – is a huge honour as an artist and former and forever student of painting,” said Michaela when her commission was announced.

“Having the opportunity as an artist from my varied list of demographics to be introduced into a conversation around this work of one of the world’s most historically significant European artists is an enormous milestone, and one I could not have imagined at this stage in my career.

“Taking inspiration from the way Monet formulated his bodies of work, I am very pleased with how this new series, ‘Una Sinfonia’, has turned out.”

Moving freely between oils, acrylics, pastels, beads, glitter, ceramic petals, floral and botanical motifs and text, Una Sinfonia comprises nine new lush, richly textured works. Four large pieces, one for each season, are complemented by five paper works, influenced by Japanese prints, now sharing gallery space with such artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Utagawa Hiroshige, as well as Monet’s radical, influential painting from the National Gallery collection.

“The way I work and how I work, the movement in the pieces, you can ‘see’ the musicality in that,” says Michaela Yearwood-Dan

Explaining the Italian title of Una Sinfonia, Michaela says: “I love Italy; I don’t necessarily love Italian politics, but it’s a gorgeous place, and when I think of plein-air painting, I think of Italy.

“Two years ago, I was in Brescia for six weeks at Palazzo Monti, living in this palazzo, able to walk around the streets and go to the churches, and it was a joy.”

As the title would indicate, music was an influence too on her abstract works. “The way I work and how I work, the movement in the pieces, you can ‘see’ the musicality in that,” says Michaela.

“There are pieces of music that make me want to paint,” she adds, before recalling her musical upbringing. “At school I was in the orchestra and choir and did Saturday morning sessions till I was 15 – and then became a teenager and developed ‘teenage shame’.

“So theatre and music have always been important to me – and Italian culture lends itself to that.”

The Girls Take Their Places, 2024, oil, beads and ceramic on canvas, by Michaela Yearwood-Dan. Copyright of Michaela Yearwood-Dan, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen

She was inspired too by Monet’s love of painting a subject in each season and his fascination with the changing quality of light in those seasons. “I was thinking about seasons and how symphonies are split into sections, and then thought of the music that maybe Monet would be listening to,” she says.

Michaela favours R&B, neo-soul, lo-fi, indie rock, as well as classical music. “There’s rarely a moment or situation in my studio, from the moment I walk in, when I’m not playing something, if not music, podcasts,” she says. “I tend to listen to podcasts when I’m doing more the more intimate works, like the paper works.”

Michaela, who paints in the studio from her photographic studies in the open air, has always loved flowers. “My mum [who lives in Leeds] has a folder from when I was a child, when I used to draw flowers a lot. It’s the physical form I love,” she says.

“But when you go into the art education system, you’re told to abandon simple things, but there’s something nice about using something simple. Flowers are beautiful to look at; they represent life, a short life span; they represent mortality.

“They have political connotations too: we wear flowers to remember fallen soldiers and to recall conflicts. So flowers have always felt an interesting subject matter.”

Consequently, Michaela’s “visual language” draws on such influences as Blackness, queerness, femininity, healing rituals and carnival culture (from childhood days in both London and Chapeltown, Leeds).

Recalling the early works of David Hockney, verbal language is important to Michaela’s works too, not only in the titles but also the use of phrases in several paintings and even messages on notepaper.

Everything’s gone green: Journalist Charles Hutchinson and artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan with her spring work, Ready,Steady, GO!, from Una Sinfonia. Artwork copyright of Michaela Yearwood-Dan, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen

“I grew up with a dad who always took notes in a notebook,” she says. “The mobile phone has been a great development in technology, so if I have an interesting conversation or hear lyrics I like, I can write things down.

“The text I use in my paintings is always revealing or concealing because my works have a diaristic element.”

Michaela’s preference is for the viewer to “take in the movement, the colours, first, and only then look at the title and the text and take it all in”. A case in point is one of the paper works. Its title? Be My Protector. That sets you thinking, but even more so when you read the wording down the left-hand side: “It’s Too Hard To Think About What Happened”. Twice over, the response changes beyond reaction to shape, texture and colour. “It annoys me when many artists leave large works untitled,” she says.

“I like art to ask questions, for a work to have a conversation with itself, to ask a question, answer a question, ask another question. It’s nice for people to say, ‘I like this painting, and this is the reason’, but it’s always good to be questioning.”

Michaela, who names spring and autumn as her favourite seasons, reflects on what first drew her to Monet’s joy in nature. “His paintings clearly have a positive feeling, which is my favourite feeling that people get from a painting,” she says. Bang on the Monet, Michaela.

National Treasures: Monet in York – The Water-Lily Pond, in full bloom at York Art Gallery until September 8. Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 15, from Gazette & Herald

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

FROM Monet to Martin Carthy, a Shakespeare play in a day to Henry VIII’s life and loves, teenage blues to country rambles, Charles Hutchinson sees how the cultural land lies.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (16/5/2024), 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Sarah McQuaid: Playing Helmsley Arts Centre on Friday

Folk gig of the week: Sarah McQuaid, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday, 7.30pm

BORN in Madrid to a Spanish father and folk-singing American mother, raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah McQuaid is long settled in west Cornwall.

She has released six albums, When Two Lovers Meet (1997), I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning (2008), Crow Coyote Buffalo (written and recorded with Zoe Pollock under the name Mama, 2008), The Plum Tree And The Rose (2012), Walking Into White (2015), If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (2018) and The St Buryan Sessions (2021). Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Jack Abbot’s Henry VIII: Regal performance in Divorced, Beheaded, Died at Milton Rooms, Malton

History lesson of the week: Divorced, Beheaded, Died – An Evening With King Henry VIII, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 7.30pm

THE year is 1544, when King Henry VIII is engaged on royal progress about his realm, halting in Malton on Friday to afford his loyal subjects the opportunity to have “audience” with their sovereign lord and king.

In Select Society Theatre Company’s one-man, two-act show, Jack Abbot’s Henry recounts the events of his life and long reign with tales of his wives and children, concluding with an audience Q&A. DNA tests, by the way, have revealed that Jack is Henry’s 21st cousin, six times removed. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms on Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 shows home and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms on Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

A seascape by artist Ione Harrison, who leads Sunday’s workshop at Helmsley Arts Centre

Workshop of the week: Seascapes with artist Ione Harrison, Helmsley Arts Centre, Sunday, 10am to 1pm

ARTIST Ione Harrison hosts a workshop suitable for all levels, from beginners to anyone wanting to explore new techniques, exploring the magic of watercolour in a mindful and playful way – no drawing needed.

Participants will create two atmospheric seascapes of the North Yorkshire coast, with room for artistic licence, using a limited but vibrant palette, trying out fun techniques, such as cling film, spatter and wax resist, plus raditional washes and wet-on-wet painting. Refreshments will be available. Bookings: visit ioneharrison.co.uk/book-online. 

Mikron Theatre cast members Eddie Ahrens, left, Mark Emmon, Georgina Liley and Lauren Robinson: Presenting an outdoor performance of Common Ground at Scarcoft Allotments, York, on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robling Photography

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, Sunday, 2pm

ON tour on narrow boat and canal, van and land until October 18, Marsden company Mikron Theatre present Common Ground, writer and lyricist Poppy Hollman’s hike through the history of land access in England, where only eight per cent of land is designated “open country”.

Under the direction of Gitika Buttoo, actor-musicians Eddie Ahrens, Georgina Liley, Lauren Robinson and Mark Emmon tell the tale of the fictional Pendale and District Ramblers as they look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary walk, but the path has been blocked by the landowner. How will they find their way through? No reserved seating or tickets required;  a “pay what you feel” collection will be taken post-show.

Martin Carthy: Folk trailblazer

Gig announcement of the week: Martin Carthy, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, July 27, 7.30pm

“WHAT we like most about Martin Carthy is that to us he’s a local hero who will once again take the high road from Robin Hood’s Bay to Farndale, jewel in the crown of the North York Moors National Park, to renew his acquaintance with The Band Room,” says gig promoter Nigel Burnham.

Carthy, 82, who has enjoyed trailblazing folk partnerships with Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick, wife Norma Waterson and daughter Eliza Carthy, brings to the stage more than half a century of experiences and stories as a ballad singer, groundbreaking acoustic and electric guitarist and insatiably curious interpreter and arranger of other artists’ material and trad songs. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.

International sculptor Tony Cragg holds landmark exhibition at Castle Howard

Sculptor Tony Cragg with his bronze work Outspan in the Great Hall at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

TWO years in the making and two weeks in the assembling, Tony Cragg’s sculpture show is a landmark in Castle Howard’s culturally rich history.

Running until September 22, it forms the first major exhibition by a leading contemporary artist to be held across the house and grounds of the North Yorkshire country estate, recognised far and wide as the location for Brideshead Revisited, Bridgerton and Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.

Cragg is exhibiting new and recent sculptures, many for the first time on British soil, including large-scale works in bronze, stainless steel, aluminium and fibreglass installed in the grounds.

Tony Cragg’s 2015 fibreglass sculpture Over The Earth, the first ever to stand on the 18th century plinth in the Ray Wood reservoir at Castle Howard. Picture: Nick Howard

Inside the house are works in bronze and wood, as well as ten glass sculptures, presented alongside Cragg’s works on paper. Sculptures are displayed in the Great Hall, the Garden Hall, the High South, the Octagon and the Colonnade.

‘The invitation to do an exhibition at Castle Howard is a special one and I am delighted to present work here,” says the 1988 Turner Prize winner, who has lived in Wuppertal, Germany, since 1977. 

“Within the beautiful landscape and historical architecture of this place, between nature and history, it is interesting to see where new and contemporary forms find a place and what role they might play.”

Sculptor Tony Cragg, centre, Nick Howard and Victoria Howard in the Great Hall at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Welcoming Cragg to Castle Howard, Victoria and Nicholas Howard say: “We’ve always loved the work of Tony Cragg and are delighted that the first contemporary sculpture exhibition here should be dedicated to him. Castle Howard is renowned for its wonderful collection of classical sculpture, and it is fascinating to see how Cragg’s work interplays with the collection and highlights the wonder and relevance of this art form for today’s audiences.”

At the highest point in the grounds, a plinth in the middle of the 500,000-gallon Ray Wood reservoir had never been used for a display since its 18th century construction, but now it plays host to Cragg’s 2015 sculpture Over The Earth in its first British showing and outdoor debut, enhancing the plinth’s counterbalance to the obelisk in architect John Vanbrugh’s design.

Two new outdoor works make their debut: Industrial Nature (2024), an aluminium sculpture that suggests hybrid forms both grown and made by machines, on the south side, and Masks(2024), a bronze sculpture of two forms, sliding tightly into each other to create an image of inseparability, on the north side. 

Tony Cragg with his 2024 aluminium sculpture Industrial Nature. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Head to the Temple of the Four Winds to see Eroded Landscape, a 1999 work made from pre-existing objects, in this case sand-blasted vessels, bottles, jars, wine glasses. Fitting, by chance, bang in the centre of the floor mosaic, it may look alarmingly fragile yet has a robustness to it too. Twice a week, a cleaning team is sent up there to remove flies.

“That work needs shelter and the temple is a perfect place to put a fragile work in – and the light in there is beautiful,” says Tony.

Typified by Versus (2015), Senders (2018) and Points Of View (2018), Tony Cragg At Castle Howard celebrates his sculptural imagination, the fascinating ways his sculpture sits within historic landscape and architectural settings and his diversity of materials, all playing to the theatricality and playfulness of architect and playwright Vanbrugh’s design.

Tony Cragg with Points Of View, stainless steel, 2018

“It was two years ago that I first came here, saw the house and grounds and got into a discussion about what we could do here – and sculptures tend to be a little bit time consuming,” says Tony, recalling the genesis of his show.

“I like to work on a lot of works at the same time, continuing to develop works with ideas that I’ve come up with that I want to work on further, or new ideas where I want to see where they lead me – excepting that at 75 you don’t have time to waste!

“Once there’s a history of making work, you know how to do things, and a lot of things are done in the drawing stage, so I eliminate plenty of roads that I don’t have to go down at that point. I’ll start with small works and if I can find something meaningful, I’ll go on with it, and it might change and develop into a larger one – but sometimes you just have to let an idea go.”

Versus, bronze, by Tony Cragg, at Castle Howard. Picture: Michael Richter

Not knowing Castle Howard before his fist visit was “maybe an advantage”. He was struck by the “fantastic” architecture and the cultivated grounds, the “museum piece” sculptures and paintings, but “that’s not what I react to as a sculptor”. “More interesting is the topography,” he says. “What’s important to me over a range of work is the positive dialogue between the ‘situation’, like the façade of the house, and the work.”

Working all summer in his studio in Sweden on his sculptures, Tony has multiple exhibitions converging on each other at present: “Salzburg, Castle Howard, Dusseldorf and….I forget them all!…Venice.”

Tony Cragg At Castle Howard, Castle Howard, near York, until September 22. Tickets: castlehoward.co.uk.

Tony Cragg: back story

Tony Cragg with one of his ten glass works at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Born: Liverpool, April 9 1949.

Lives: Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Occupation: Sculptor and teacher, exhibiting since 1969.

Full title: Sir Anthony Douglas Cragg CBE RA.

Education: Gloucester, Wimbledon and Royal College of Art, London, from 1969 to 1977. Moved to Wuppertal that year, teaching at Düsseldorf Kunstakademie.

Exhibited at: Tate Gallery, London, 1988; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1989; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, and Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2011; Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, 2013; Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, and Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2016; Boboli Gardens, Florence, 2019.

Also exhibited in: Berlin, Hamburg, Naples, Genoa, Tokyo, New York, Toronto, Middleburg and plenty more. Took part in in documenta 7 and 8.

1988, what a year: Represented Great Britain at Venice Biennale and won Turner Prize.

Senders, fibreglass, by Tony Cragg, 2018. Picture: Michael Richter

Awards: Praemium Imperiale Award, Tokyo, 2007; Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, 2017.

Professorships: Akademie der Künste, Berlin, and Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, where he was director from 2009 to 2013.

Noted for: Using found objects to create sculptures, from seashore flotsam to plastic debris. Making monolithic forms from metal, stone and glass.

In the words of Tony Cragg At Castle Howard curator Dr Jon Wood:

“TONY Cragg’s passionate curiosity about materials and the complex lives of form always shine through his work. For him, sculpture is an amazing means of investigation that can shape human understandings of the world better than any other art form.

“His works are always dynamic, animated by movement, change and transformation. Works like Over The Earth, Runner and Versus sit compellingly in the grounds of Castle Howard – with its wonderful gardens, woods and lakes, historic interiors and collection of antique sculpture – inviting us to see the past through the present and to look at the world afresh.”

More Things To Do in York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 20, from The Press, York

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

NATURE in full bloom, hothoused Shakespeare, blossoming student creativity and teenage blues put the colour in Charles Hutchinson’s cheeks for warmer days ahead.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Stewart Dylan-Campbell’s Rob, left, and Aiden Kane’s Marc in Qweerdog Theatre’s Jump, playing Rise@Bluebird Bakery tomorrow

Relationship drama of the week: Qweerdog Theatre in Jump, at Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, tomorrow (12/5/2024), 8.30pm; doors 7.30pm

DEVELOPED through Manchester company Qweerdog’s LGBTQ+ writing project, Nick Maynard’s dark comedy takes an unusual look at contemporary gay life, exploring the possibility of relationships and how they are not always the way we imagine.

Directed by West End director Scott Le Crass, Jump depicts the lives, love lives and past lives of two lost souls drawn to a canal one night. As the weary, embittered Rob (Stewart Dylan-Campbell) contemplates the lure of the water, a handsome young man, the “chopsy” Marc (Aiden Kane), engages him in conversation. So begins a strange and fractious relationship that might just prove beneficial to them both. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise.

Paloma Faith: “Celebrating taking responsibility for your own happiness” at York Barbican tomorrow

Recommended but sold out already: Paloma Faith, York Barbican, tomorrow, 8pm; Katherine Priddy, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

STOKE Newington soul tour de force Paloma Faith showcases her sixth studio album, February’s deeply personal The Glorification Of Sadness, her “celebration of finding your way back after leaving a long-term relationship, being empowered even in your failures and taking responsibility for your own happiness”.

Birmingham folk singer and guitarist Katherine Priddy will be promoting second album The Pendulum Swing, released on Cooking Vinyl in February.  For the first time, her 14-date May tour finds her performing in a trio, joined by Harry Fausing Smith (strings) and support act George Boomsma (electric guitar).

Hollie McNish: Performing at the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Kat Gollock

Festival of the week: TakeOver – In The Limelight, York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18

IN this annual collaboration between York Theatre Royal and York St John University, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

Among those events will be writer Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book, Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love (Thursday, 7.30pm), dance troupe Verve: Triple Bill (next Saturday, 7.30pm) and multiple shows by York St John students. For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Gray O’Brien’s Juror 10, left, and Michael Greco’s Juror 7 in the 70th anniversary production of Twelve Angry Men. Picture: Jack Merriman

Jury service: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

IN its 70th anniversary touring production, Reginald Rose’s knife-edge courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men resonates with today’s audiences with its intricately crafted study of human nature. Within the confines of the jury deliberating room, 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. 

What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma, wherein Rose examines the art of persuasion as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in Christopher Haydon’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms next Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, May 18, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 showshome and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms next Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

Her name is Del Rio: And she lives for stand-up comedy as drag queen Bianca feels Dead Inside on York-bound world tour

Gig announcement of the week: Bianca Del Rio, Dead Inside, York Barbican, September 18

COMEDY drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio heads to York on her 11-date stand-up tour. Up for irreverent discussion will be politics, pop culture, political correctness, current events, cancel culture and everyday life, as observed through the eyes of a “clown in the gown”, who will be “coming out of my crypt and hitting the road again to remind everyone that I’m still dead inside”. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Bar Convent to celebrate trailblazing Catholic women in audio trail at living heritage centre. Who’s in the spotlight?

Mary Ward (Augsberg portrait): Foundress of the Bar Convent

THE Trailblazers of the Bar Convent will be celebrated in a new audio trail that opens at the living heritage centre, in Blossom Street, York, on May 25 to mark half-term week.

Focusing on uncovering the amazing stories of key characters from the history of the oldest surviving convent in Great Britain, the exhibition trail spotlights:

* Mary Ward, who believed that girls deserved an equal education to boys;

* Mother Superior Ann Aspinal, who determined to build a secret chapel totally hidden from the outside world;

* Sister Gregory Kirkus, who set up the first ever museum at the convent;

* Plus many more incredible women who have lived there over the centuries, dedicating their lives to helping those in need, protecting the Catholic faith and supporting the Catholic community across the city.

Saint Margaret Clitherow

The foundress of the order – resident at the Bar Convent since 1686 – was a Yorkshire woman, Mary Ward, who has such international significance that her followers and supporters are building a case to have her officially recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church.

She believed that women were intellectually equal to men and deserved an education that reflected that equality. Providing a proper education for girls was central to her work, and she duly travelled widely across Europe, founding schools in ten European cities by 1628.

She noted in 1617 that “there is no such difference between men and women that women may not do great things – and I hope in God it will be seen that women in time to come will do much”.

In the mid-18th century, Mother Ann Aspinal wanted to construct a new convent chapel with an Italianate style dome but it was still illegal to build Catholic churches at that time. Rather than hiding the building project, she instead added a new suite of rooms to the front of the building, including a beautiful Georgian parlour, to disguise the real building project taking place at the back of the house: the secret chapel.

Sister Gregory Kirkus: Author of 20 books about the Bar Cinvent

Sister Gregory Kirkus wrote more than 20 books on the history of the convent and researched the lives of many of the sisters who have lived here. She established the inaugural museum at the Bar Convent and saved its historic books and documents. Thanks to her, so much of the building’s history is known.

The Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre is open to the public and welcomes all faiths and none. The chapel is free to visit and a public mass is celebrated on Fridays at 12 noon. The relic of Saint Margaret Clitherow is housed there.

Using QR codes throughout the Trailblazers trail, visitors are invited to discover more about the trailblazing women of the Bar Convent story, whose bravery and determination made history locally, nationally and globally.

Entry to the convent is free. The trail is included in admission to the Bar Convent exhibition. Complete the trail to be in with a chance to win a £30 voucher for the café. Tickets: barconvent.co.uk.

Opening hours for the exhibition, chapel and Georgian parlour:  10am to 5pm; last entry 4pm. Café: Monday to Saturday, 8am to 3pm (hot food served until 2.30pm).

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond as the week ahead takes shape. Hutch’s List No. 14, from Gazette & Herald

Sculptor Tony Cragg with his bronze work Outspan in the Great Hall at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

SCULPTURES and Tess in the country, free events at the double, nun fun on the run,  courtroom tensions and a funny mummy send Charles Hutchinson out and about.

Sculptures of the week: Tony Cragg at Castle Howard, near Malton, until September 22

SCULPTOR Tony Cragg presents the first major exhibition by a leading contemporary artist in the house and grounds of Castle Howard. On show are new and recent sculptures, many being presented on British soil for the first time, including large-scale works in bronze, stainless steel, aluminium and fibreglass.

Inside the house are works in bronze and wood, glass sculptures and works on paper in the Great Hall, Garden Hall, High South, Octagon and Colonnade. Tickets: castlehoward.co.uk.

Let us pray: Landi Oshinowo’s Deloris Van Cartier, left, and Sue Cleaver’s Mother Superior in Sister Act, on tour at Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: Sister Act, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm matinee, Saturday

SUE Cleaver takes holy orders in a break from Coronation Street to play the Mother Superior in Sister Act in her first stage role in three decades. Adding Alan Menken songs to the 1992 film’s storyline, the show testifies to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music in its humorous account of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier’s life taking a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder.

Placed in protective custody, in the disguise of a nun under the Mother Superior’s suspicious eye, Deloris (Landi Oshinowo) helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

One of Stephen G Bird’s artworks in his Helmsley Arts Centre exhibition

Exhibition of the week: Stephen G Bird, Helmsley Arts Centre, Helmsley, until June 28

NORTH Yorkshire artist Stephen G Bird works in a variety of painting and drawing media.  His pictures begin with extensive observational drawing in urban and rural landscapes. Once back in his studio, he creates pictorial and allegorical narratives from memory and imagination. Themes include tales from myth and legend and the comedy and tragedy of the everyday. “Life is dark but also funny,” he says.

Lila Naruse’s Memory Tess in Ockham’s Razor’s circus theatre production of Tess at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Kie Cummings

“Bold new vision” of the week: Ockham’s Razor in Tess, York Theatre Royal, tonight to Saturday, 7.30pm

CIRCUS theatre exponents Ockham’s Razor tackle a novel for the first time in a staging of Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles that combines artistic directors Charlotte Mooney and Alex Harvey’s adaptation of the original text with the physical language of circus and dance.

Exploring questions of privilege, class, consent, agency, female desire and sisterhood, Tess utilises seven performers, including Harona Kamen’s Narrator Tess and Lila Naruse’s Memory Tess, to re-tell the Victorian story of power, loss and endurance through a feminist lens. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

The Funny Mummy: One-woman comedy show about the bonkers world of parenting

Comedy gig of the week: The Funny Mummy, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 7.30pm

THE Funny Mummy, alias Alyssa Kyria, delivers a one-woman comedy show about “the bonkers world” of parenting. “From pregnancy to playdates, WhatsApp groups to school runs, if you’re a parent, and you need a laugh, then this show is for you,” she advocates.  

Kyria, co-creator of Bring Your Own Baby Comedy, performs across the country and has appeared on the BBC, ITV and Sky. Her comedy, music videos and sketches have gone viral on Netmums and Facebook. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

The Twisty Turns: Country songs new and old at Milton Rooms, Malton

Free gig of the week: Lazy Sunday Sessions, The Twisty Turns and Joey Wing, Studio Bar, Milton Rooms, Malton, Sunday, 3pm to 5pm

The Milton Rooms’ new Lazy Sunday Sessions programme continues this weekend with a double bill headlined by Ryedale country band The Twisty Turns, who combine their own compositions, influenced by country, folk, country blues and bluegrass, with traditional country songs and rip-roaring fiddle tunes.

In the line-up are Benjamin Gallon, who provides acoustic guitar, vocals and “anteloping”; Jenny Trilsbach, on double bass, vocals and “foxiness”, and Jerry Bloom, on fiddle and “frogmanship”. Singer Joey Wing supports. Entry is free.

Butterwick Alpaca Retreat’s alpacas at the Love Local day at Nunnington Hall. Picture: National Trust

Free celebration of the week: Love Local, Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm; last entry at 4.15pm

HELPING to raise awareness and “show off how brilliant Ryedale and the surrounding area is”, artists, craftspeople, businesses, charities, and community groups create this family event at the National Trust property.

Visitors can taste fresh Yorkshire produce, buy goods from Ryedale makers and crafters and enjoy free admission to the country house, gardens and the last day of the From The Earth exhibition by East Riding Artists’ group of painters, potters and creatives.

Taking the vote: The murder trial jurors in Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men at Grand Opera House, York

Jury service: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

IN its 70th anniversary touring production, Reginald Rose’s knife-edge courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men resonates with today’s audiences with its intricately crafted study of human nature. Within the confines of the jury deliberating room, 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. 

What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma, wherein Rose examines the art of persuasion as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in Christopher Haydon’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.