Pandemic community art project is bubbling up at South Bank Studios…and hurry, hurry, there’s still time to take part

Bubbling up: A Year Of Change: My Bubble project leaders Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill at South Bank Studios with bubble artwork submissions for the community art exhibition. Picture: Carolyn Coles/ Nicola Lee

THE first cases of the Covid-19 virus in the UK were identified in a York hotel, and today marks one year since the first UK lockdown was announced with the Government advice to “avoid unnecessary social contact”.

Soon to follow was the Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives edict as lockdown kicked in March 23 2020.

A year on, Lockdown 3 has reinstated that mantra, and March 23 2021 brings a new deadline, in the form of the closing date for a pandemic community art project launched by South Bank Studios artists Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill on January 31 to “help people through lockdown and isolation”.

“Are you looking for an art project to do during lockdown,” they asked. “To mark this year, we’d like to invite our friends in York to take part.

“Even those of us lucky enough to have a studio outside of our homes have had to do much more work than usual at home, so we’d like to represent this by inviting you to make a small artwork at home on the theme of A Year Of Change: My Bubble.”

Bubble-shaped works must then either be delivered to Southlands Methodist Church letterboxes on either the Southlands Road or Nunmill Street entrances, marking the envelope FAO My Bubble, or posted to My Bubble  (South Bank Studios), Southlands Methodist Church, 97, Bishopthorpe Road, York, YO23 1NX.

The ever-expanding online exhibition is already up and running at southbankstudios.co.uk/onlinegallery, and a physical exhibition will follow at Southlands Methodist Church, once the lifting of lockdown restrictions permits the Covid-safe reopening of the church building.

“So that we can put all of the artworks together in 2D – and possibly 3D – forms for the physical exhibition, we’re asking that the artworks should be a specific size and shape,” say the organisers. “So the design must be contained within a circle, somewhere between 12cms and 21cms in diameter.”

For full details on how to take part in My Bubble, go to: southbankstudios.co.uk/art-project.

One of the bubbles for My Bubble. All the works are to be exhibited anonymously

Here, South Bank Studios community art project leaders Donna Maria Taylor and Katie Hill answer Charles Hutchinson’s questions on My Bubble:

What gave you the idea for this lockdown project, Donna?

“I decided I wanted to give something back. And being involved in a community art project was at the top of my ‘To Do’ list at the beginning of this year.

“For personal reasons, I wasn’t in a position to get involved in any of the projects many artists were getting involved in during the first lockdown: making masks, scrubs, painting portraits for NHS Heroes etc.

“I contacted Katie in mid-January to ask if she’d be interested in working with me on the project and we launched it by the end of that month.

“Since Katie had recently taken on the role of ‘studio rep’ for the loft studio spaces at South Bank Studios, she seemed like a good person to approach to work with on the idea. It’s always great to have others to work with on projects like this as you can throw ideas back and forth.

“Katie came up with the timescale idea, linked to the first Covid cases in York and the initial lockdown date [March 23] became the project’s deadline date. She also came up with the title ‘A Year Of Change’.

“We were originally looking at asking people to produce designs within squares but then the ‘My Bubble’ idea suddenly came to me in the middle of the night, as these things tend to do!

“It all happened quite quickly once the idea was formed, and since then we’ve been meeting on Zoom on a regular basis to discuss progress and look at different ideas on how we could promote the project. Our friends on social media have been brilliant at helping us to do that and we’re very grateful to them for that assistance.

“Initially we were going to limit the project to adults, but we soon realised that it would also give families a chance to do something creative together while they were stuck at home doing home schooling, so we opened it up to cover all age groups.”

What drew you to become involved in My Bubble, Katie?

“I’ve worked on a lot of community art projects in Leeds and only moved to York in January 2020, just before lockdown, so it’s been a strange time to arrive in a new city. This project was an opportunity to get involved in something with the local community, to get to know people and do something positive during a very challenging time for everyone.”

How many bubbles have come in so far?  How many do you anticipate exhibiting?

“We’ve had around 40 bubbles arrive so far and we’re expecting quite a few more will arrive in the next week – people love working to a deadline.

“We’ve been in touch with a number of groups in York who we hope will get involved, such as York Carers, York Mind and Refugee Action York, but we really don’t know how many we will receive until the deadline.

“We’d love to get 365, one per day of the year, but however many we get it will make a great exhibition.”

When will the exhibition open online and when might you hope to put the works on display at South Bank Studios?

“We’ve already set up an online exhibition on our website where we’re adding ‘bubbles’ as they come in. You can see it online at: https://www.southbankstudios.co.uk/onlinegallery.

“We’re also doing regular posts on our social media sites, and we’re planning to have an exhibition of all the ‘bubbles’ together at some point over the summer months and certainly hope to coincide this with the two York Open Studios weekends: July 10/11 and July 17/18.”

Why are community projects important to you?  Why are community projects important full stop?

Donna first: “I’ve always enjoyed working with other people and love to see all the original artwork that comes in when you ask people to get involved in something like this. I’ve been involved in many in the past – particularly in my association with York Learning – and in some ways it always amazes me how different the artwork produced is, although obviously I know it shouldn’t.

“Imagine if all the artwork that came in was exactly the same. Now that really would be worrying! I think projects such as this inspire people; they make them feel part of a whole and help to bring people together. Not to mention the huge therapeutic benefits that doing any sort of arts and crafts has on the health and wellbeing of individuals.

Katie: “The Covid crisis has highlighted many things, including the importance of connecting with your community, taking action to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing, and the value of creativity for mental health.

“Hopefully, this project brings those things together. Community projects are so important to create opportunities for people to connect with each other and to express themselves and their experiences.

“We were really aware that the last year has been a very mixed experience, with some severe hardship and distress, and as artists we really believe that doing something creative can help during challenging times.”

In a year of change, what changes have been for the better?

“It’s definitely been a time to get to know our local community and neighbours much better. We’ve also been able to connect online: as artists we’ve started to have regular online meetings, which has really transformed how the studios are run and the sense of community there.

“People have become more aware of local projects and businesses, plus there’s the huge environmental positives, of course.”

What changes have been for the worse?

“So many people have suffered in this last year. So many people have died, and so many have been separated from their loved ones for long periods of time.

“Some people have lost their livelihoods and it’s difficult to imagine how some of that will recover, including live music and theatre.

“Living with the anxiety of feeling vulnerable to a horrible virus for a year has been a huge challenge for mental health, particularly for young people, and for key workers. There have been many changes – some things will never be the same again.

“It’s certainly a historic time we’re living in and we’re grateful that we’ve been able to record this in some way.”

What challenges have been thrown at you as an artist and what have you learned over the past year about your artistic vision and practice?

Donna: “My theatre work has all dried up, of course. I’ve only actually had one theatre job in the last year. And all my teaching has moved online.

“Again, like everything, it seems there are positives and negatives. Not being able to get into the studios all the time has been strange, but the time the pandemic has afforded me has actually meant that I’ve had more time to experiment and move forward with my art, which I may not have been able to do otherwise.”

Katie: “I’m a lecturer and all of my teaching suddenly went online, which actually created a lot of time to do craft and artwork while talking on video calls.

Katie Hill preparing artworks for exhibit in A Year Of Change: My Bubble. Picture: Carolyn Coles/Nicola Lee

“In the first month of lockdown I crocheted three blankets and realised that I needed to find other things to do. I’ve started working in sketchbooks for the first time in years and am developing ideas for textile arts and surface pattern design.

“I’ve been taking lots of photos of leaves and flowers on my exercise walks, which I have then used as inspiration for artwork. I never used to go for walks at all, so that’s a huge change for me.

“I’ve also been able to learn some new techniques by attending online classes with artists all over the world. So, creatively it has been a time of huge growth for me.”

In what ways has South Bank Studios been able to connect with the community during lockdown?

“As well as setting up this community art project, we’ve started free online ‘Create and Chat’ sessions to help the studio and church community through lockdown and loneliness. We also ran a stall outside the studios before Christmas, as part of Planet South Bank’s Crafty Crawl, which was very successful.

“Our studios are housed within Southlands Methodist Church and the church does a lot of creative community projects too. They’ve just put a spring flower display in the church windows and had a community Christmas tree outside at Christmas time that people could add their own decorations and messages to.

“The church is also working on a community garden, which will be a great asset particularly if it continues to be safer to be outdoors. Maybe we can run some outdoor community art sessions in the summer.

“Another artist, Rebecca Mason, has also set up a fundraising page for Cancer Research, and our friends at Planet Food – who share the building on a Thursday – have continued to offer weekly support to members of our community through their zero food waste initiative.”

What is the symbolism of the circular shape for a piece of art in My Bubble?

“We wanted a format that would unify all of the artworks, so that people could do a range of art in different styles, but they would all fit together, so we knew we wanted everyone to do something that was the same shape.

“Obviously the ‘Bubble’ idea links to social bubbles in lockdown, so the circle fits with that idea too. We’ve received some gorgeous artwork so far: the circle idea is working really well.”

What pieces are you each doing for My Bubble?

Donna: “Mine will be based on a photograph I took on New Year’s Eve as I walked through the empty streets of York city centre in the early evening with my daughter. It was deserted and symbolises what York has been like throughout the various lockdowns.

“For those of us who live in York, we know that we’d usually find lots of revellers everywhere at this time on the evening of a New Year. It was quite eerie in a way.”

Katie: “Following on from my flower art from daily exercise walks, I’m drawing and painting a bubble full of plants and flowers, including plants that have connections to my friends and family.

“With much more time at home than usual, I’ve done a lot of work in my small garden and am enjoying growing plants that have been given to me by my family and friends over the years.

“It’s a way to feel connected to them when we can’t be together in person. For example, my front garden is full of pale pink Hesperantha that were given to me by my mother, from her garden, so I really think of her when I see them.

What are you both working on?

Donna: “I’m planning two new online classes,  Experimental Watercolours and Spring Sketchbooks, which I’ll be delivering on Zoom. Although most of my learners are based in York, I’m now also teaching people as far away as Edinburgh, Brighton and Herefordshire. I’m also workin on a new series for York Open Studios.”

Katie: “I started a full-time PhD in January at Northumbria University on Social Design, which is where we use design processes and design thinking to work with communities on social and environmental projects.

“I’m going to be doing a community project as part of it in 2022, so I’m planning that at the moment. I’m also teaching online: design history and theory, and employability skills for designers.”

Which South Bank Studios artists will be participating in York Open Studios in July?

“There’ll be seven of us exhibiting: Donna Maria Taylor, Carolyn Coles, Caroline Utterson. Colin Black, Nicola Lee, Rebecca Mason and Karen Winship. It’s definitely one of the highlights of this year for those of us who are taking part and we’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now. More details about the event can be found at: yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

“We’re also planning to have other events as the building opens up and we’re safely able to do so: further craft fairs, coffee mornings and art exhibitions/installations.

“As a studio community, we’ve lots of ideas for the future and very much look forward to things getting back to normal, so we can explore all the ideas that we do have, both within the studios themselves and also in the space in and around the building.”

Carolyn Coles: One of the South Bank Studios artists who will be taking part in York Open Studios at Southlands Methodist Church on two weekends in July

Where might we all be in a year’s time?

Donna: “This is a tricky one. Personally, I would imagine my theatre work will slowly come back, but I will certainly be continuing with my online classes for a while. I’d like to think that I could go back to some real-life teaching at some point too, but for now I’m just planning things a couple of months in advance.

“In many ways, as artists, we’re very lucky as we’re used to change and insecurity. Historically too, interesting/innovative art often comes from challenging situations and living through difficult times.

“Looking forward, I also like the idea of running further community art projects from South Bank Studios, so watch this space.

Katie: “It’s so hard to imagine. If you had said in March last year that we would still be in lockdown a year later, I would have found that difficult to believe, so that makes me think that progress will continue to be slow.

“I think we’ve experienced a huge and rapid change in our use of technology and those changes will stay with us, so in a year’s time we will still be doing a lot of work from home and online.

“I hope that as a community we will all be working on taking care of each other and healing some of the trauma caused by this year of the pandemic, and that we will continue to nurture our sense of community and our creativity.”

Submissions for A Year Of Change: My Bubble

A Year Of Change: My Bubble: how to take part

Submission deadline: Tuesday, March 23 2021

Exact requirements of your artwork:
Your design must be enclosed within a circle that is a minimum diameter of 12cms (the size of a CD) to a maximum diameter of 21 cms (the width of an A4 sheet of paper).

If your design is on a piece of paper, card or similar, please do not cut out the circle! Instead, leave it with at least a square around it.

“This is because we may join some ‘bubbles’ together to form a 3D display,” say the organisers. “You can decorate this area if you like but do be aware that it may have holes punched into it at a later date, or it may be cut off, depending on the final overall outcome. Therefore, please concentrate your main design within ‘the bubble’, which will not be tampered with.”

Your artwork must be lightweight enough to Blu Tack to a wall.

Your piece should be personal to you and inspired by your life in York during Covid-19 times. 

Donna and Katie are hoping for a range of responses but some of the ideas/themes you may wish to explore as initial lines of enquiry include: 

Neighbours; home school; working from home; loss; support for essential workers.

Or how about: hobbies and interests; walks or exercise regimes; your garden; view from you home; family & friends; specific objects that are important to you; home comforts; a close-up of a room in your house; your lockdown clothing/footwear?

You may use any medium you choose, so your artwork could be sewn, painted, drawn, collaged etc. Or you could use a mix of materials.

Important notice!

Only one entry per person.

Before submitting your artwork, you must ensure that you write the following information on the back (or write it on a separate sheet and include it as part of your submission):


Your name

Your age (if under 18)

A contact email address (PLEASE USE CAPITAL LETTERS)

A contact phone number

Your postcode

You may, if you wish, also write a short description about your piece/inspiration. Only a sentence or two will do but this is not absolutely necessary.

Where to deliver your artwork:

Please deliver you final piece through one of the letterboxes at Southlands Methodist Church, marking the envelope FAO: My Bubble. You will find the letterboxes at the Southlands Road and Nunmill Street entrances. 

Or post your finished artwork (making sure you add an appropriate stamp to cover the cost!) to:

“My Bubble” (South Bank Studios), Southlands Methodist Church, 97, Bishopthorpe Road York,  YO23 1NX.

If you are shielding and are unable to do either of the above, Donna and Katie can arrange to collect your artwork from your doorstep. Use this email address if this is the case: southbankstudiosyork@gmail.com


Communications:

After submitting your My Bubble artwork, all correspondence will then be via email. In taking part in the project, you will be added to the South Bank Studio mailing list that has been set up so everything can be collated, keeping you up to date on progress so far and physical exhibition dates.

By taking part you are agreeing that you are happy for your name, email address and contact number to be on this list. You will be asked at the end of the project if you would like to be deleted from this list – or you can, of course, unsubscribe at any time by sending in an email. 

Website/Social Media:

Donna and Katie will publish the images of the artwork produced on the website southbankstudios.co.uk and associated social media accounts, but individual names and contact details will not be published.

Further details on the project can be found at: southbankstudios.co.uk/art-project. Facebook:.https://www.facebook.com/SouthBankStudiosYork

Instagram: @southbankstudiosyork

https://www.instagram.com/southbankstudiosyork/


Donna and Katie’s exhibition plans:

“We are aiming to get 365 ‘bubbles’ to represent a year, but if we do not have enough entries by the deadline (March 23), we shall open it up, so there may be an opportunity for you to submit more than one piece after this date,” they say. “We will let you know via email if this is the case.”

Return of artwork:

Artwork will be available for collection after the exhibition has finished. You will be contacted via email to inform you of when it can be collected.

Additional information:  

If you would like any further information, or if you would like to take part in the project but do not have any materials, please contact Donna and Katie, who will do their best to help at: southbankstudiosyork@gmail.com.

Extra support if you need it:

Donna and Katie say: “We have designed this project in the hope that it will provide something positive for those who live within our city, although we appreciate that for some these times have been extremely challenging.

“Therefore, if you do feel like you need additional support in any way,we would encourage you to please reach out. Here is a really good link to the organisations and people in York who can help you and they are only a phone call or text away: https://www.livewellyork.co.uk/FeelRealYork.”

More bubbles than at a West Ham United home match…

Anita Bowerman’s print of The Yorkshire Shepherdess is a hit…and so is the mug!

The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, holding Anita Bowerman’s artwork The Hay Meadows In Summer At Ravenseat at Anita’s Dove Tree studio in Harrogate

HARROGATE artist Anita Bowerman has created a new painting of The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, the hill farmer and mother of nine from ITV’s The Dales and Channel 5’s Our Yorkshire Farm.

Painted in watercolour and gouache, The Hay Meadows In Summer At Ravenseat is available in a limited-edition print run of 450 and as a mug.

Each giclee print is signed by both Anita, who runs Dove Tree Art Gallery & Studio at Back Granville Road in Harrogate, and Amanda, who has featured previously in Anita’s fund-raising Christmas cards for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

The idyllic scene captures Amanda in her shepherdess’s smock coat in the Yorkshire summertime in the ancient Hay Meadows with her nine children, animals, wildlife, insects and flowers and husband Clive on his tractor in the distance at their Ravenseat Farm in Swaledale.

The Yorkshire Shepherdess: The Hay Meadows In Summer At Ravenseat, watercolour and gouache, by Anita Bowerman, available as a giclee print…and a mug

“It took me a long time to create this scene using watercolour and gouache, a thick watercolour,” says Anita. “I love adding detail and telling a story in a picture. Amanda and her sheepdog Kate look adoringly at each other, the children play happily, picking flowers, chatting to each other and racing through the fields.

“There are some sheep, Tony the Pony with three girls surrounding him, a curlew, mole, hares, butterflies and lots more besides.”

Amanda enthuses: “Anita has illustrated a beautiful design featuring my family and animals at home in the hay meadows. She manages to capture all the details so intricately, from my favourite smock coat to the backdrop, animals, flowers and even my children.”

Anita then designed a fine bone china mug showing the same foreground scene, made for her by Duchess China in Stoke-on-Trent. “Amanda has served tea out of some of the mugs and sold them directly to walkers who visit her Ravenseat farm,” she says.

Artist Anita Bowerman and The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, on a visit to the Duchess China factory in Stoke-on-Trent

“Then, during one episode of Our Yorkshire Farm, the camera honed in on Raven, Amanda’s eldest child, who had just gone to university. She was holding one of the mugs as the interviewer asked her if she was missing home and her eyes welled up with tears.

“The camera held the pose for a while…. and Amanda started to get requests flooding in from viewers to buy the mug. Another order from Duchess was needed.”

Amanda, who has visited Duchess China with Anita, loves the mugs! “They are very special, they make a pretty gift and are not only collectors’ pieces but being fine bone china, they also make a jolly decent cup of tea,” says The Yorkshire Shepherdess, author, photographer and  public speaker.  

Although Anita’s studio and gallery in a refurbished 19th century former coach house in the French Atelier style has been closed for much of the time since the first lockdown last March, she has continued to paint throughout the pandemic.

Elephant Family decorations, in stainless steel, by Anita Bowerman

Not only her Yorkshire Shepherdess prints and mug have been proving popular, so too have Anita’s elephants and boxing hares, all being posted out during lockdown.

The Elephant Family decorations, in hand-polished stainless steel, are inspired by the Painted Elephant Festival in Jaipur, India.

“They’ve become a symbol of families struggling to get together during the pandemic,” says Anita, who has been donating ten per cent of the proceeds to the Elephant Family Charity to protect Asian wildlife and its habitat.

Anita’s signed limited-edition giclee print of Boxing Hares at RHS Garden Harlow Carr was inspired by this enchanted Harrogate garden, depicting the willow boxing hares at the moonlit Glow event held there.

All’s welly that starts welly: Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman launching her Give Cancer The Boot installation at Castle Howard last July

First making her name with her papercuts, Anita was the official artist of the Tour de Yorkshire and latterly an artist in residence at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens.

Last July, her commissioned Tree Of Life art installation of 191 stainless steel wellies on a Lime Walk tree at Castle Howard raised funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Give Cancer The Boot appeal.

Looking ahead, Anita is planning to paint cherry blossom over the exterior of her studio in late-April to coincide with the Harrogate Stray’s cherry blossoms. “It’s an idea that seems to be catching on,” she says. “Damien Hirst is focusing on cherry blossom at the moment too!”

For more information or to acquire a print or mug, go to: anitabowerman.co.uk.

“Not only are they collectors’ pieces but being fine bone china, they also make a jolly decent cup of tea,” says Amanda Owen of Anita Bowerman’s mug depicting The Yorkshire Shepherdess

Michael Lyons’ Ancient and Modern show of outdoor sculptures to close on April 11

Becky Gee, curator of Fine Art at York Art Gallery, with Michael Lyons’ 1993 sculpture Amphitrite in the Artists Garden in May 2019. Picture: Charlotte Graham

THE last chance to see Ancient And Modern, Cawood sculptor Michael Lyons’ valedictory outdoor exhibition in York, is fast approaching.

The free display of large-scale sculpture in York Art Gallery’s Artists Garden and Edible Wood will close on April 11.

On show in the late Michael’s biggest ever exhibition on York soil are nine works created between 1982 and 2000, inspired by nature, myth and ancient cultures, with the central space dominated by Amphitrite, a large painted steel structure evoking the sea that he fashioned in 1993. 

Becky Gee, curator of Fine Art at York Art Gallery, says: “Michael’s incredible work has been shown around the world and in some of the most respected art institutions, and we’ve loved exhibiting it in the gardens here, feeling honoured to have housed his first large-scale exhibition in York, his home city.” 

Opened in late-May 2019, Ancient And Modern originally was booked to run until May 2020, but has remained in place through these pandemic times. “We were so pleased to be able to extend the exhibition and keep it open for visitors to enjoy on their daily walks through the gardens,” Becky continues. 

“The sculptures have brought a new dimension to the unique space and we’re thrilled with the positive response. The works complement and contrast with the ancient walls of St Mary’s Abbey and the more rustic landscapes of the Edible Wood, truly suiting their garden setting, and it’s been fascinating to see how they change as the seasons change how the gardens look.”

Cavalcade, by Michael Lyons, in the Artists Garden at York Art Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Before his sudden passing in April 2019, Michael Lyons said of the show: “To my knowledge, this is the first time such a large exhibition of outdoor sculpture has been shown in York – certainly for many years.

“It is a great pleasure to make a contribution to the cultural life of York in this way and I hope that the exhibition will help to make sculpture a more integral part of the city.” 

Becky recalls the “wonderful experience” of working on this exhibition with Michael before his passing. “His energy, warmth and creativity made a real impact on the gallery team and the show has proven to be a true celebration of the extraordinary skill and talent he possessed,” she says.

The York exhibition had been in the planning for many years, and once Becky took up her curator’s post in early 2019, she was able to work in tandem with Mr Lyons in the months before his death. They would liaise by phone and email and she visited his studio too.

“Michael was very enthusiastic, full of ideas, and spoke very eloquently about his sculptures, and he loved the space where they were to be exhibited. That inspired the Ancient And Modern title for the exhibition,” says the curator, who collaborated with the sculptor on the detailed wording to accompany each sculpture.

Working from the Cawood studio he established in 1977, Lyons’ sculptures range from small-scale to monumental, made in brass, bronze, clay and copper, with his exploration of the medium of steel resulting in an ambitious body of work equally at home in rural and urban landscapes.

Ancient And Modern exhibition curator Becky Gee is framed by Michael Lyons’ 1989 sculpture High Priest in the Artists Garden behind York Art Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Although the sculptures are abstract, their starting point is often figurative, as seen in the exhibits Ace (1982), Michaelmas (1982), Mayflower (1983), High Priest (1989), Cavalcade (1990), Hornblower (1992) and the companion pieces Harvest: Ceres’ Key (2000) and Harvest: Demeter’s Dream (2000), as well as Amphitrite.

“Sculptures can be hard to fully comprehend until you see them in front of you, but Michael’s works feel like they have landed here and been here forever,” says Becky.

“The beauty of them is that you can sit on a bench in the gardens and appreciate how each setting has been carefully chosen. That was very important to Michael’s family when they came to see us installing the sculptures.”

Becky’s favourite piece is Cavalcade, the work placed closest to the gallery walls. The most colourful is Mayflower, a yellow disc that evokes the sun, made at Mayflower Engineering in Sheffield, hence its name. Whatever the weather, radiant sunlight has continued to shine in the Artists Garden, thanks to Lyons.

“It’s been a privilege to have Ancient And Modern, and if you’re local we hope you’re able to enjoy the display before it closes,” concludes Becky.

Michael Lyons: Ancient And Modern, on show in the Artists Garden and Edible Wood, behind York Art Gallery, until April 11. Opening hours are 10.30am to 4.30pm daily; admission is free.

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

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

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

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

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

Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick

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

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

More Things To Do in York and beyond in the months ahead and while staying home, List No. 28, courtesy of The Press, York

Bethany, from York artist Sue Clayton’s exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day, on show outside All Saints Church, Pocklington

THE diary is beginning to turn from blank to much more promising, even if online and home entertainment is still the order of the day, but Charles Hutchinson is feeling positive and so are event organisers.

Outdoor exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day: Sue Clayton, 21, All Saints Church, Pocklington, March 19 to April 19

YORK portrait artist Sue Clayton will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on March 21 with a month-long open-air exhibition on the railings of All Saints Church in Pocklington.

Self Portrait, by York artist Sue Clayton

Her collection of 21 portraits is inspired by children and adults with Down Syndrome, especially Sue’s energetic son James. She has chosen the theme of 21 both to mark the date of WDSD and to symbolise the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have.

This is the second outdoor display to be staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) in lockdown at this location after fellow York artist Karen Winship’s NHS Heroes exhibition from late November to early January.

Iestyn Davies: York countertenor will perform at the NCEM’s Awaken online concert series

Springtime celebration of music online: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music, York, March 27 and 28

THE NCEM’s Awaken weekend will feature York countertenor Iestyn Davies and Fretwork, the all-male vocal group The Gesualdo Six, I Fagiolini and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Ensemble Augelletti and The Consone Quartet.

The online festivities will celebrate the sublime sounds of spring in a range of historic venues to mark “the unique association between the City of York and the exquisite beauty of the music of the past”. Among the architectural gems will be Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the NCEM. Full details can be found at ncem.co.uk/awaken.

The Minster men: The Howl & The Hum promote their livestreamed concert at York Minster in the ultimate publicity shot for any York band

“Unique” livestreamed concert: The Howl & The Hum, York Minster, May 25

YORK alternative rock band The Howl & The Hum will perform a “unique set to compliment the unique venue” of the Nave of York Minster in a one-off 8.15pm concert livestreamed via ticket.co.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Sam Griffiths, bassist Brad Blackwell, guitarist Conor Hirons and drummer Jack Williams will combine selections from last May’s prescient album Human Contact with fan favourites and new material recorded in lockdown.

The Howl & The Hum will be the first rock act to play York Minster since York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich on March 29 2019. Tickets are on sale via thehowlandthehum.com/.

Wynne win situation: Castle Howard Proms will go ahead this summer with tenor soloist Wynne Evans

Confirmed for the summertime: Castle Howard Concerts Weekend, August 20 to 22

CASTLE Howard has announced this summer’s concerts weekend will go ahead, in light of the Government’s roadmap rollout.

First up, in the open air at the North Yorkshire country house, will be house music brand Café Mambo Ibiza on August 20, presenting Roger Sanchez, Judge Jules, Julie McKnight (live PA), Ridney and Robin S (live PA), with more big names still to be announced for the Ibiza Classics at the Castle celebration.

Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, from the Go Compare adverts, will be joined by soprano Victoria Joyce and the London Gala Orchestra for the al fresco Castle Howard Proms on August 21.

Four vocalists from We Will Rock You, a five-piece rock band and The Elysium Orchestra will combine for Queen Symphonic on August 22. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.

Piece in our time at last: Shed Seven move all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall yet again, now in the diary for August 28

Sheds on the move: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, August 28

YORK heroes Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a third time, now booked in for August 28.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

August 28? Doesn’t that clash with Leeds Festival, co-headlined that day by Stormzy and Catfish And The Bottlemen? Indeed so, but “let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” quips lead singer Rick Witter.

Shoe-in: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, playing the SJT this spring

The Greatest News In The History Of The World…The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…tour to open in Scarborough from May 18 to 22

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Covid-safe reopening show will be the first tour dates of The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, the hit one-woman play that Ian Kershaw wrote for his wife, Coronation Street alumnus Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Directed by Raz Shaw, it heads out on a heartfelt journey that starts and ends in a small, unassuming house on a quiet suburban road, as Hesmondhalgh narrates the story of two neighbours and the people on their street, navigating the audience through the nuances of life, the possibilities of science and the meaning of love. 

Hesmondhalgh says: “It’s a beautiful play, a love story, but a universal one about learning in time what matters in the end, about leaving a mark on the world – and maybe beyond – that shows us, the human race, in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.”

The Shires: Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle move York Barbican gig from 2021 to 2022

York-Shires: The Shires, York Barbican, put back by 12 months

BRITAIN’S biggest-selling country act, The Shires, are rescheduling their May 23 show at York Barbican for May 6 2022.

York is the only Yorkshire venue of their rearranged 25-date tour, when Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle are billed to be joined by Texan country singer and songwriter Eric Paslay. 

“The songs mean so much to us personally, but there really is nothing like looking out at our fans in the crowd and seeing how much of an impact they can have in someone else’s life,” say The Shires. “It’s truly a very special thing”.

And what about?

STILL stuck at home, check out Mindhunter on Netflix, Unforgotten on ITV and Sophia Loren’s Desert Island Discs on BBC Sounds. Seek out Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’s new lockdown album, Carnage.

Cave in: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis create Carnage, available digitally now and on CD and vinyl from May 28

More Things To Do in and around York once lockdown loosens grip and at home now. List No. 27, courtesy of The Press, York

Sandwich time: Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Cassie Vallance’s hit show from last summer in Rowntree Park, York, can be streamed from tomorrow

THE return of live entertainment is on the horizon at last, hopefully from May 17, prompting a surge in show confirmations, but in the meantime Stay Home activities remain prominent in Charles Hutchinson’s diary too.

Children’s streamed show of the weeks ahead: Park Bench Theatre’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic, February 26 to March 7

ONE of the hits of last summer’s Park Bench Theatre open-air season at Rowntree Park, York, is to be streamed by producers Engine House Theatre from tomorrow.

Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic was performed by Cassie Vallance under Covid-safe conditions with more than 1,000 adults and youngsters seeing the show at 30-plus performances.

Suitable for everyone aged three and over, the streamed show will be bolstered by a Make Your Own Teddy Bear craft video. Tickets cost £5 at tpetv.com.

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones: Your Place Comedy double bill at the weekend

Streamed comedy gig of the weekend: Rosie Jones and Hal Cruttenden, Your Place Comedy, Sunday

ROSIE Jones, Bridlington-born comedian, scriptwriter and actor, will join television comedy mainstay Hal Cruttenden in a virtual double bill on Sunday night, streamed from their living rooms into homes via YouTube and Twitch at 8pm.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: ““I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim via yourplacecomedy.co.uk for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Thunk-It Theatre’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham: Setting up youth theatre classes with Pocklington Arts Centre

Youth theatre project launch: Thunk-It Theatre in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre, from this weekend

YORK company Thunk-It Theatre are partnering with Pocklington Arts Centre to provide youth theatre for the East Riding and beyond.

Weekly drama classes will be available to children aged six to 11 from February 28, initially on Zoom until it is safe to re-open the Market Place venue, when sessions can be held in person.

The all-levels drama sessions for Years 2 to 6 will take place from 10am to 11am every Sunday during term time, run by Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham. To book a place, visit pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Asterisk tweet: Liam Gallagher found a typically eff-usive way on Wednesday to express his delight at the thumbs-up for Leeds Festival in August

Game-changing festival announcement of the year so far:  Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, near Wetherby, to go ahead

LEEDS Festival, Yorkshire’s biggest outdoor musical gathering of the year, is ON. Organiser Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Reepublic, confirmed the decision yesterday (24/2/2021) in the wake of the Government’s Monday statement on the four-step route out of Covid lockdown strictures.

Already confirmed as headliners are Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age in a new initiative for the August 27 to 29 event that sees the long-running festival introducing a second main stage to enable two bill-toppers per day.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: New date for Remembering The Oscars dance show at York Barbican. Picture: Colin Thomas

Dance delay: Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: Remembering The Oscars, York Barbican, put back to April 2022

STRICTLY Come Dancing regulars Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manraraare moving their Remembering The Oscars show at York Barbican for a second time. The persistent pandemic has enforced a switch to April 7 2022 for the only Yorkshire performance of next year’s tour, after an earlier change from Spring 2020 to March 2021. Tickets are still valid.

In the meantime, Aljaž and Janette will star in a streamed one-hour performance of Remembering The Oscars for a limited three-week season from March 27 to April 17. To book, go to: rememberingtheoscars.com.

Just Steve, A Guitar And You: the tour poster for Seasick Steve’s York Barbican return in the autumn

York gig announcement of the week: Seasick Steve, York Barbican, November 11

CALIFORNIAN country blues singer-songwriter Seasick Steve will return to York Barbican on November 11 on his Just Steve, A Guitar And You Tour.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (26/2/2021) from 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk for the only Yorkshire gig of the American’s nine-date autumn solo tour in support of his second album of 2020, last November’s Blues In Mono.

“I’m lookin’ forward to coming and playing for y’all,” says Seasick Steve, 69. “Just gonna be me, you and my guitar. A few songs and a few stories, kinda like we just hangin’ out together! Gonna be fun. See ya there.”

Jesse Malin: Pocklington Arts Centre gig in December

East Yorkshire gig announcement of the week: Jesse Malin, Pocklington Arts Centre, December 7

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has secured a new date for New York City singer-songwriter Jesse Malin. He will play on December 7 2021, fully 18 months after he was originally booked to perform there in June 2020 as part of PAC’s 20th anniversary programme.

Malin, 53, released his seventh studio album, Sunset Kids, in 2019, produced by Lucinda Williams, American roots icon, country music queen and 2016 Platform Festival headliner at the Old Station, Pocklington.

Grayson Perry: Channel 4 return, York Barbican show and York Art Gallery exhibition at CoCA

And what about?

THE return of Grayson’s Art Club for a second series on Channel 4 on Fridays after Grayson Perry’s championing of people’s art was such a spirit-lifting boost to home creativity in the early days of Lockdown 1 last spring.

Perry, by the way, is booked into York Barbican for September 6 on his A Show For Normal People tour and his delayed early pottery exhibition, The Pre-Therapy Years, should open at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), York Art Gallery, on May 28, if Step 3 re-opening comes into effect from May 17, as planned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glenn Tilbrook: The Crescent awaits in March 2022

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

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

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

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

Celeste: Number one album

And what about?

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

What’s in store for 2021? “Aliens, man, definitely aliens,” warns York Open Studios artist and B-movie buff Lincoln Lightfoot

Day Of The Dinosaurs, oil painting, work in progress, by Lincoln Lightfoot

INFLUENCED by the gloriously ridiculous B-movie imagery of the Fifties and Sixties, York artist Lincoln Lightfoot questions what might be in store for 2021.

You can see his humorously absurdist answers when 28-year-old Lincoln makes his York Open Studios debut this summer, after the 20th anniversary show was moved from April to July 10/11 and 17/18.

His digital-print images and oil paintings take the broad theme of surreal encounters with beasts that appear in recognisable locations: not so much King Kong climbing the Empire State Building in New York as a tentacled dayglo Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse attacking a bridge in York.

Born in Hartlepool in 1992, the son of a school head of art & design, Lincoln was always fascinated by art, heading to York St John University to study Fine Art, whereupon the city became the centre of his work for those three years.

It continues to occupy that top spot in his art chart, his digital prints and paintings stalking York’s streets and passageways, our heritage resonating in the present.

Here, Lincoln discusses his name, his art, B-movies, 21st century Surrealism and his love of York with CharlesHutchPress.

York artist Lincoln Lightfoot: Making his York Open Studios debut in July

How did your wonderfully alliterative name Lincoln Lightfoot come about?
I have an American mother from Chicago, which people are often quick to assume is the reason for my name (Abe Lincoln). However, it was my father who came up with it.

“‘Lincoln’ is Old English, meaning ‘the place by the pool’, and I was born in Hartlepool, which has the same meaning. My Dad loves to explain this…and gets an eye roll from me!”

What were your first artistic steps?
“When I was very young, as a family we would go to the beach and this would normally mean one thing: sandcastle building. We would build these embarrassingly big sandcastles with huge trenches around them.

“I was always fascinated by art. I loved to create and still do. My Dad was the head of art & design at my secondary school in Middlesbrough. This often meant staying late in the art department with my younger brother, creating and developing our GCSE and A-level Fine Art coursework. We’d make fantasy towers and giant killer plants. Exciting topics devised by my father.”

Describe those facilities…

“It was a large art department with four purpose-built art classrooms and a vast variety of exciting materials with exciting visual stimuli. There were masks from different cultures, stained-glass panels, tapestries, machine bits, musical instruments, giant shells, tropical plants and stuffed animals. No wall was left bare.”

“I’m in awe of York Minster, the intricate beauty of the architecture and our overwhelming insignificance next to it,” says Lincoln Lightfoot. This work is entitled Minster Flypast

What was your first experience of York?
“My grandparents used to take me and my brother on caravan trips. I remember staying at Rowntree Park a number of times. I loved the untouched feel of the city, the idea that things within the city had been there for hundreds of years. I still can’t get enough of it.

“Every time I’m in town, I see something new, something that fascinates me. I’m often left saying, ‘How come I haven’t seen that before?’.

“I’m in awe of York Minster, the intricate beauty of the architecture and our overwhelming insignificance next to it.”


Why did you choose to study at York St John University?

“I initially applied to Edinburgh School of Art and Glasgow School of Art. At the age of 18, I was quite confident in my artistic ability. Probably too confident, seeing as I had decided there was no need to do a foundation year prior to applying. I didn’t put enough effort into my art portfolio and didn’t make the cut.

“The idea was to poke fun at the absurdity of mankind,” says Lincoln Lightfoot, explaining why he dressed as a ringmaster at the York Wheel . “I held a hamster cage with a hamster in it and talked nonsense to anyone who asked me what I was doing”

“My next choice was York St John. I’d chosen the university because I loved the city and I knew they offered a Fine Art course. Other than this, I didn’t know too much about the university itself, but I quickly realised I’d made a great decision and what followed were some of the best years of my life.

“York St John was a second home and a uniquely tightly-knit community. I joined the YSJ Basketball Club. I grew socially more than anything else, while falling more in love with the city. I enjoyed its history, its beautiful quad and ‘Archie’s days’ [a YSJ tradition at the end of every semester].”

When and where did you first exhibit in the city?
“After initial exhibitions at York St John’s gallery spaces in my first year, inspired by the art of Futurist Performance, I dressed as a ringmaster in front of the Yorkshire Wheel: a giant Ferris wheel located in front of the Principal York hotel (from 2011 to 2013).

“The idea was to poke fun at the absurdity of mankind. I held a hamster cage with a hamster in it and talked nonsense to anyone who asked me what I was doing.”

 
What medium did you choose for your final project at York St John?

“Performance Art. In my final year, the York St John basketball team, a bunch of 6ft-plus young men, including myself, dressed up in black suits, with bowler hats and briefcases.

Towards The Metaphysical, a performance art piece by Lincoln Lightfoot, for his final-year project at York St John University

“We covered our faces with women’s black tights and did a ‘work commute’ at 7am. Flooding the city with faceless businessmen and getting escorted out of York railway station by the police for obvious reasons.

“This happening was documented and used for my 3rd Year degree show. My businessmen flooded the opening night, to the annoyance of my other peers.”


Where and when did you last exhibit in the city?
“In Summer 2019, I exhibited a series of surreal prints at Spark:York. Prior to that, the work had made a debut at the Fossgate Social.

“I currently have the series of prints adorning the walls of Rehab Piccadilly and a giant Godzilla painting over the top of a Tour de Yorkshire poster in Micklegate Social.”

What does the city of York conjure in your mind, if you had to sum it up?
“It’s a story-book city, conjuring up tales of the past. Walking through its streets, your creative mind can just let loose and go to work. It’s not hard to imagine incredible things happening there because they already have.”

They say that if you don’t leave York after three years, the city will have you in its grip and you will never say goodbye! True or a load of jackson pollocks?

“Completely true. I am testament to the statement.”

Artist Lincoln Lightfoot with his Tour de Yorkshire artwork, Godzilla, at Micklegate Social, York

York has to live with the chain of history around its neck: your work makes us look at it in a different way in the tradition of artists being outsiders. Discuss…

“Lots of artists are drawn to the city as a subject because of its historical architecture and picturesque views. It’s a path well-trodden. I’m currently playing around with a series of giant oil paintings that would strive to be similar to the style of [English Romantic painter, illustrator and engraver] John Martin’s biblical end-of-the-world scenes. I guess in some ways, if executed with a high enough level of skill, they could be seen to poke fun at high art.

“I love the stories of John Martin’s work; for contemporaries it would be like a modern-day visit to the cinema, maybe even more emotive. People would scream before them in horror. (Ironically his brother, ‘Mad Martin’, was a non-conformist who set fire to York Minster on February 1 1829). 

“People often go in search of escapism, fascinated by unconventional ideas or elaborate fantasy worlds. That’s what makes B-movie poster art so attractive. To strip it back to a recognisable location can only make it more appealing.” 


Is that what drew you to your distinctive subject matter of imposing B-movie imagery on familiar York landmarks?

“The city of York has such impressive views to inspire thousands of artists already. I’m fascinated by myths, legends, UFOs and other sightings of strange creatures; with these unlikely creatures in mind, I became consumed with surreal thoughts.

Minster Crafts, as depicted by B-movie enthusiast Lincoln Lightfoot

“My friends galvanised my thinking and would message me, ‘Hey, have you thought of this, what if….?!’. It ultimately brings you back to this child-like state of excitement and wonder.

“I find what makes it enjoyable for the public is if both landmark and mythical creature are well-known. I love it when my art gives people that moment of ‘closure’. In particular, when kids drag their parents over, pointing, ‘Look! Look!’. I sometimes think they get it more than the adults.” 

Which Fifties and Sixties’ B-movies have inspired you and why?

“My home in York’s South Bank is full of key inspirations to my work. The first B-movie poster to grab my attention was Attack Of The 50ft Woman by Reynold Brown. I saw it in a vintage shop when I was in London. It was an A1 copy. My Attack Of The 50ft Rubber Ducky! paid homage to that.

“I love most of them, though my girlfriend has put a limit on the amount I’m allowed to hang around our house!

“I have Invasion Of The Saucer-Men and La Terra Contro I Dischi Volanti, which translates as something like The Earth Against Flying Saucers. These have inspired my own versions of Alien-style invasions.

Inspired by Reynold Brown: Attack Of The 50ft Rubber Ducky, by Lincoln Lightfoot

“I also love the 1996 film Mars Attacks! I have an It Came From Beneath The Sea poster, which inspired my Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse! and The Corn Exchange Creature!, a giant coiling, twisting centipede.

“Then, of course I have the Attack Of The 50ft Woman poster, so I have now reached the limit of wall-space.”

What else is filling that space?

“David Blaine’s Beneath The Below poster; a Chicago World’s Fair from 1933, and an antique original tourist poster from 1907, Healthy Hartlepool, which reminds me of the golden age of North Eastern Railways.

“I love the poster for From Hell It Came, a movie about a giant killer tree. The movie trailer is hilarious. As Art & Design department lead at a school in Sunderland, it links to a GCSE project I do called Beware Of The Plants. A design entertainment crafts style project that ends with an installation of terrifying, organic, plant-like creatures in the school’s greenhouses.”

The Corn Exchange Creature!, wherein a centipede goes on the rampage in Leeds, by Lincoln Lightfoot

Far too many happenings/events/experiences are described as surreal but your work absolutely fits the description. How would you define surreal/surrealism today?

“Contemporary Surrealism addresses people’s worries and stresses and provides an escape into an alternative world and helps us cope with anxiety in safe and sometimes humorous ways in these times of isolation and stress.

“It differs from the pioneers of the 1920s and 1930s with the advances in film and graphic media. We have the tools to blur reality with fantasy even more convincingly.

“Freudian psychology, Giorgio de Chirico and Romanticism originally fed the ideas of the Surrealist movement, but the real spark to the zeitgeist seems to have been the horrors of World War One and born out of Italian Futurism.”

You create art of the absurd, the ridiculous, your art being playful yet playing on our worst nightmares too. Discuss…

“I’ve always believed that through the consumption of art, we can deal with nightmares and perceived dangers safely. As children, we confront and make sense of a dangerous world through fairy stories and nursery rhymes.

“Young people wish to be told of danger through anecdote and myth in a safe space. I attempt to continue this addiction and appeal to adults too.”

A spaceman adrift in York: Land Of The Lost, by Lincoln Lightfoot

You say “high art co-exists with popular culture” in your work. Does that make it 21st century Pop Art? It certainly makes it eye-catching to shoppers…

“Yes, it sits within the definition of Pop Art traditions, which, of course, began in London 1957, before New York. Ultimately, the smaller works use the ideas and graphicacy of Pop, though without advertising.

“I’m moving into more traditional techniques with oil on canvas that seek to blur the boundaries.”

How have you coped with life in Lockdown x 3? Has it had an impact on your work in these fear-filled times?

“Life in lockdown has been kind when contrasting with others. It has afforded me time to reflectand take stock of where I might be going as an artist and art educator.

“Walking around York, seeing the streets and alleyways otherwise populated with people, now deserted, has reinforced my practice in a profound way. Many of the documented photographs I took could lead to future ideas.

“Initially, it’s a time where the word ‘surreal’ may be justified. I’m still expecting to wake up in March 2020.”

You have been told: The Truth Is Out There!, by Lincoln Lightfoot

Does your own artwork influence your teaching of Art & Design in Sunderland?

“I’m creating art as much as possible and often use it to inspire my students, developing exciting and enriching programmes of study.”

Why did you want to take part in York Open Studios? What opportunities does it present to you?

“I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. It’s a fantastic opportunity to platform artwork and to meet new people. Only now am I happy with a body of exciting work and have space to exhibit it.” 

More than 140 artists and craft-makers will be opening their doors for York Open Studios. How do you rate the York art scene?

“York’s art scene is forever growing, with an increasing number of creative spaces and events across the city. It’s alive, vibrant and has everything for anyone, regardless of age, background and appetite.”

“Watch out for more fantastical beings invading York’s ancient places,” warns Lincoln Lightfoot, creator of Micklegate Mayhem, Christmas

What’s coming next for you in the art world?

“Watch out for more fantastical beings invading York’s ancient places.

I’m now working on larger-scale oil paintings that use chiaroscuro not associated with Pop Art, but use blending and glazing. The best of these will be made into Giclee limited-edition prints.”

One final question: your York Open Studios profile says you “question what might be in store for 2021?”. So, Lincoln, what exactly is in store for 2021 for you and the rest of us?
“Aliens, man, definitely aliens. There are more influential individuals making statements and releasing information by the day.” 

Lincoln Lightfoot will be opening his doors at 118 Brunswick Street, South Bank, York, for York Open Studios 2021 on July 10/11 and July 17/18, 10am to 5pm. For more information on Lincoln, go to lincolnlightfoot.co.uk; for details of all York Open Studios artists, visit yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

Bridge attack: The Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse!, by Lincoln Lightfoot


Scarborough Museums Trust picked for learning scheme to address climate change

Year 4 pupils from St Peter’s RC Primary School, Scarborough, collecting waste plastic from the South Bay beach in preparation for Future Fossils, an immersive family experience run by Scarborough Museums Trust and Invisible Dust at the Rotunda museum in 2019 that saw young climate activists inviting visitors to make a pledge to protect the planet’s future. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is among 13 museums and heritage organisations chosen to join a nationwide scheme to inspire museums to address matters such as climate change.

The No Going Back Peer Learning Programme is run by the Happy Museum Project, an Arts Council England-funded programme that looks at how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future.

The programme aims to inspire museums and their communities to shape new stories and actions to address the climate and ecological emergency.

Christine Rostron, learning manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “We are delighted to be given the chance to work with museum colleagues across the UK to help us think about how museums can work with local communities and respond positively to creating a sustainable future.   

“We recognise that we operate in one of the most important coastal regions in Europe and are lucky enough to have extremely important geological and natural history collections.  

“We are especially keen to use these objects to tell stories about the environment and support children to learn to love their natural surroundings and to be advocates for positive environmental change.

“We are committed to playing our part in protecting and raising awareness of the environment,” says Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust

“In 2019, in partnership with Invisible Dust, we delivered Future Fossils, a learning project with a local primary school that demonstrated humans’ impact on our environment and supported children to become activists and advocates for our local environment.  

“One Year 4 participant said: ‘It gave me confidence that by working together we can change the world.  It’s not just for Scarborough, it’s something all young people around the world should do’.

The Happy Museum Project will help us to build on and continue this type of work with our community.”  

Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “As a museum service working on the Yorkshire coast, we are committed to playing our part in protecting and raising awareness of the environment.

“We are also the custodians of a collection of significant environmental and scientific interest and we feel duty bound to make the collection fully available for vital research, and to help the trust itself move to a position where we embrace and declare a climate emergency.”

The 13 museums selected to take part range from the Cornwall Museums Partnership to Oriel y Parc National Park Visitor Centre and Landscape Gallery, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Participating too are Leeds Museums and Galleries, Saltaire World Heritage Education Association, Wakefield Museums and Castles and Yorkshire’s Maritime City project from Hull Culture and Leisure.