Another idea of the day for the online York Festival of Ideas: Off Limits? Art, social media and censorship. Panel discussion, 8pm, 9/6/2020

Will anything be Off Limits when online censorship of art is under discussion tonight?

TONIGHT, the online York Festival of Ideas holds a panel discussion on art censorship in the age of social media.

Taking part, under the chairmanship of Michael White, will be art historians Amy Werbel and Kyveli Lignou-Tsamantani, from the University of York, and contemporary artists Joanne Leah and belit sağ.

“While on the surface we live in a culture that appears to be ever more permissive, restrictions on the circulation of images is increasing at a very fast rate,” contends the Festival of Ideas website.

“In particular, demands for social media companies to show responsibility is leading to many images being removed.

“But what are the implications of this for artists who increasingly need to use social media to build their audiences and careers? Many are now faced with navigating algorithms designed not just to remove unwanted photographs, but even drawings and cartoons.

“In addition, a huge amount of historical art represents acts that would be considered objectionable and reprehensible. Can they be circulated online?”

As artists and museums move increasingly into the space of the internet, tonight’s expert panel will discuss where we should place the boundaries between freedom of expression and social responsibility.

After the 8pm discussion, Michael White, head of the University of York’s history of art department, will host a question-and-answer session.

Admission is free but booking is required at:

About the speakers

Joanne Leah’s image-based work explores themes of sexuality, isolation and identity from her base in New York City. She focuses on live models who exist on the fringe of society: sex workers, people from the BDSM and LGBTQA+ communities, as well as non-traditional body types.

Exhibitions include Acid Mass at the Not For Them gallery in Queens; NSFW: Female Gaze at the Museum of Sex and the performance/installation project, Fletish.

She founded to provide a liaison between artists and social-media policy makers. Examples of her work can be found on her Instagram page @twofacedkitten and at

Kyveli Lignou-Tsamantani is a postgraduate student in the University of York’s history of art department, researching the politics and ethics of spectatorship of atrocity images in contemporary art.

Her main focus addresses issues of visibility and invisibility in the same context. Her broader research interests cover the ethics of photography/photojournalism, contemporary art and issues of spectatorship, artistic “genealogies” in art history and arts and politics in general.

belit sağ is a video-maker and visual artist who lives in Amsterdam. Her moving-image background is rooted in her work within video-activist groups (VideA, karahaber, and in Ankara and İstanbul.

She was a resident artist at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York, and Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.

Her practice focuses on the role of visual representations of violence in the experience and perception of political conficts in Turkey, Germany, Netherlands.

Amy Werbel is professor of history of art at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) in New York. She is now researching art censorship as a Fulbright Fellow at the University  of York.

Amy joined SUNY in 2013 as a specialist in the art of the United States and is the author of numerous works on the subject of American visual culture and sexuality.

Her book Lust On Trial: Censorship and the Rise of American Obscenity in the Age of Anthony Comstock (Columbia University Press, 2018) won the 2019 Peter C. Rollins Book Prize of the Northeast Popular and American Culture Association.

Michael White is head of the University of York’s history of art department, working chiefly on the inter-war avant-gardes. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Theo van Doesburg and has a special interest in De Stijl and modernism in the Netherlands.

He was the external curator of the Tate Liverpool exhibition Mondrian And His Studios in 2014. His books include Generation Dada: The Berlin Avant-Garde and the First World War (Yale University Press, 2013).

Brought to you remotely by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas is full of ideas until June 14, gathered under the new umbrella of Virtual Horizons. For full details, visit

Feral Practice’s film in lockdown The Unseeables reawakens three extinct birds

Great Auk, clay head, work in progress for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

THE Unseeables, a tale of extinction in three birds by filmmaker Feral Practice, is the latest digital commission in lockdown by Scarborough Museums Trust.

The 11-minute film, looking at the “the strange and polarised relationships humans have with other species”, can be seen on the trust’s YouTube channel ( from Tuesday, June 16.

Feral Practice, the alias of artist and researcher Fiona MacDonald, explores loss, reparation, extinction and conservation, via the interwoven stories of three birds “lost” to Scarborough, now surviving only as specimens in the Scarborough Collections.

Corncrake facing left, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

The first is the sad and harrowing story of the Great Auk. The SMT collections house a single egg of a great auk, a large flightless bird that became globally extinct in 1844.

The auk’s demise was brutal, cruel, and driven by profit; most were killed for their down. As they approached extinction, every specimen was coveted by museums, ultimately putting the prestige of an auk exhibit above the survival of a species.

In the Scarborough Collections too are taxidermy examples of the great bustard and the corncrake.

Great Bustard eye, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

The great bustard became extinct in the UK in the early 1800s, but diminishing populations still exist in Central and Southern Europe and Asia, where the huge, “showy” males perform glorious ruffle dances for their female harems.

In Britain, the bird has been the subject of a reintroduction project that has succeeded in establishing a breeding population on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

The distinctive voice of the shy Corncrake was once integral to the British rural soundscape. Corncrakes started declining, however, as agriculture became mechanised, and by the late 1930s they were absent from much of England, not least Yorkshire, despite once having been widespread across the North of England.

Great Bustard performance body and bird, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

Now, they are confined largely to the islands off the west of Scotland and the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland. To save the bird, British conservationists seek to educate and persuade landowners.

The film narrates the birds’ stories alongside imagery that weaves together close-up footage of the Scarborough Collections exhibits with found footage and sculptural responses by Feral Practice, in an “impossible attempt to conjure the lost birds in their studio”.

Feral Practice says: “As we comprehend (or re-learn) the complex warp and weft of ecological thinking, and understand landscapes as self-creating masterpieces of which humans can never be masters, can we step back from our urge to manipulate, exploit and control? Will we allow other species the space they need to flourish alongside us on their own terms?”

Great Bustard performance feathers in two colours for Feral Practice’s film The Unseeables

Scarborough Museums Trust wants The Unseeables to be accessible to everyone, so the film is captioned and a parallel audio experience is available for those who might find this helpful. 

Defining Feral Practice’s artistic practice, Fiona says: “We work with human and non-human beings to create art projects and interdisciplinary events that develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries.

“Our research draws on artistic, scientific and subjective knowledge practices to explore diverse aesthetics and create suggestive spaces of not knowing nature.” 

Painting the egg for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

Feral Practice is the artist-in-residence for 2020-2021 at Dunham Massey, a National Trust Georgian house, garden and deer park in Cheshire.

The Unseeablesis one of a series of new digital commissions in lockdown from Scarborough Museums Trust in response to the Corona crisis. The trust has asked artists Feral Practice, Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Wanja Kimani, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for released online across assorted social-media platforms.

Still , gold spiral, for Feral Practice’s The Unseeables

When photographer Tony Bartholomew went down in the woods for a year, this is what he found…UPDATED WITH INTERVIEW

Forester Isobel Wilson during a break in a morning of tree felling. Picture Tony Bartholomew.

A YEAR in the life of Dalby Forest and surrounding North Yorkshire woodland is captured in Tony Bartholomew’s online photographic exhibition on the Forestry England website.

His photographs portray activities in the forest, near Pickering, ranging from bird ringing and harvesting to rallying, alongside portraits of forest workers and scenic views.

Long-snapping Scarborough editorial photographer Bartholomew took all his images for Forest 100: A Year In The Life within the boundaries of forests managed by Forestry England in God’s Own Country. They can be seen at:

“I approached Forestry England with the idea in early 2019 once I realised that it was their centenary year,” says Tony, whose news-driven photographic patch has taken in Yorkshire and the North East since the early 1980s.

Sled dog racing in Dalby Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“The Forestry Commission was founded in 1919 to replenish the nation’s supply of timber after World War One. The Forestry Act was passed that same year, turning the riggs [higher ground] and dales that form the landscape of Dalby into today’s forest cared for by Forestry England.”

For one year, from spring 2019 to spring 2020, Batholomew recorded the flora and fauna of the forests, the people who work and play in them, and those who shaped their past and now protect their future.

Images from Forest 100: A Year In The Life were shown first in an outdoor display around Staindale Lake, near the visitors’ centre in Dalby Forest, and now comes the online exhibition.

Delighted by Bartholomew’s photographic documentary of Forestry England’s 100th anniversary landmark, funding and development manager Petra Young, says: “The centenary gives us time to reflect on our achievements and on the breadth of activities taking place in our nation’s forests. Tony’s work shows the range of special aspects the forest has to offer.”

Saskia Pilbeam in Guisborough Forest at the site of a fire earlier in the year. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Here Tony Bartholomew leafs through Charles Hutchinson’s forest of questions.

What were your initial thoughts on what you wanted to portray in a year of forest photographs,Tony?

“My first thoughts and proposals were to try and show the breadth of activity that goes on in the day-to-day running of a forest.

“It’s a huge operation on both a commercial scale with timber operations and also on an ecological, recreational and cultural level. The project was to be basic reportage and Forestry England let me lead on what we should look at photographing.”

Forests are so much more than their trees, for all their beauty and mystery and history, but representing human activity in woodland must have been vital to your project?

“In any project or commission I undertake, it’s the people that really interest me: some of the stronger images in the project were of the people working and playing in the forests.”

A night-time rally stage in Dalby Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

What did you learn about woods that you may not have appreciated before doing Forest 100?

“The cycle of planting, growing and harvesting trees in the forests was amazing to see, from tiny seeds being sorted in the nurseries, to planting out saplings and then the final process of felling.”

What are your earliest memories of woods playing a part in your life?

“When I was around the age of four, we were living in a small town in Dumfries and Galloway called Dalbeattie. The end of the road we lived in bordered a large forest and I had wandered off into the woods on a mini-expedition of discovery. Luckily I didn’t get too far in before my somewhat worried mother discovered me standing on a large stone.

“The forest is managed by what is now Forestry and Land Scotland and is home to some amazing mountain bike trails known as the 7 Stanes. Even though I grew up after that in inner-city Liverpool, I always had an affinity with green spaces and woodland.”

Planting out trees in Cropton Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

What is your idea of a perfect day out in woodland?

“A crisp early-morning autumn start, a couple of cameras and probably a dog for company. Just setting out on a trail not knowing what you might photograph or come across.”

Do you think we appreciate woodland sufficiently and, in our age of climate change, will our response become even more important?

“I do think we are becoming increasingly aware of the role green spaces and especially woodland and forests can play. The need to plant more trees to offset our carbon footprint is obvious and we need to plant more than we currently are.

“Other benefits include providing a habitat and increasing bio-diversity. One thing which I think has come to the fore recently [in the Coronavirus lockdown] is people feeling the need to escape and find a place of relaxation and inner peace. Just find a quiet patch of woodland and sit beneath a tree for five minutes.

Duck down: Synchronised duck dabbling on Staindale Lake in Dalby Forest.. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise,” as the song The Teddy Bears’ Picnic goes. Did anything surprise you in your year of woodland photography?

I was out in Wykeham Forest on a very wet summer Sunday afternoon and was walking down a very narrow deeply wooded trail.

“I came around a bend and saw straight ahead an adult roe deer. We stopped and observed each other for a few seconds, but as soon as I reached for a camera she was away into the woods.” 

Did the differing seasons have an influence on your photography?

“The different seasons do have an influence and effect on your work, especially if you return to a similar spot or viewpoint and observe it at different times of year.

A long-tailed tit is released after being ringed, weighed and logged in Dalby Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Most people imagine that as photographers we are always craving blue skies and bright sunshine but many of the best pictures are taken in adverse or unusual weather conditions. Early spring and autumn can give spectacular light.”

What are the specific challenges of photographing in woodland?

“That’s an interesting question and one I haven’t considered. On thinking about it, part of the problem of photographing in the woods is the trees: that old saying “you can’t see the wood for the trees” can ring true at times.

“Making things stand out in what can be a uniform landscape is the answer.”

A mini-whirlpool and fallen leaves in a beck near Dalby Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Should we ever be able to visit galleries again in these Covid-19 lockdown times, where might your photographs be exhibited?

“Let’s be positive and say when we are back visiting galleries again! In this case, it’s not an issue as the exhibition of work was split into three different parts.

“The first two were physically exhibited outdoors in Dalby Forest around a beautiful, flat, accessible trail at Staindale Lake. Dalby is now open again with limited facilities, so check the website, but the second set of pictures are still up around the lake, and we’re talking about what might happen from there.”

Reflection on an autumn day in Dalby Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Did you know?

Forestry England, an agency of the Forestry Commission manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, drawing more than 230 million visits per year.

As England’s largest land manager, it shapes landscapes and enhances forests, enabling wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow, as well as providing enjoyment for people. For more information, visit 

Autumn funghi on a moss-covered fallen branch in Wykeham Forest. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Village Gallery in York to reopen on June 15 with Katherine-of-Yorkshire photo show

York In Flood, 2019, taken by Museum Gardens by Katherine-of-Yorkshire

VILLAGE Gallery, in Colliergate, York, will reopen on June 15, “subject to government advice not altering”.

Gallery owner Simon Main has taken this decision in line with the relaxation of lockdown measures from that date for “non-essential” shops.

Picking up where he left off, but reopening on a Monday, when normally the gallery runs Tuesday to Saturday, Simon will present the postponed photographic show by Instagrammer Katherine-of-Yorkshire from June 15 to August 2.

The need to make changes to the way the gallery operates in line with Covid-19 social-distancing requirements precludes the possibility of hosting the usual preview for a Village Gallery show.

In his latest newsletter, Simon says: “There’s potentially light at the end of the tunnel enticing us to venture out and reopen. If all continues to go as planned, this will be on Monday 15th June…not a day we are normally open but we can’t wait any longer than necessary to welcome you back.

York Minster At Night, 2020, by Katherine-of-Yorkshire

“However, things will have to change…The shop will have had a deep clean before we reopen and will be regularly cleaned throughout each day.”

Here comes the most significant change: “We are only a little shop, so to conform as far as possible to social distancing, it will only be possible to have one person/family-friendly group in at a time.

“Even if you cannot see anyone in the shop when you arrive, please shout out to check it’s OK, as there may be people upstairs. And if you have to wait, please queue responsibly outside, maintaining that essential two-metre separation,” advises Simon.

More details on shop etiquette in these lockdown-easement-but-still Coronavirus times can be found at the Village Gallery website, but among more changes the newsletter highlights, one relates to personal service.

“As our shop relies on personal service – we will serve/assist standing alongside you, rather than face to face, and will wear a mask at all times,” Simon says. “Note, if you need to be able to lip-read, let us know as we have alternative masks available.”

What about the comeback exhibition by Instagrammer Katherine-of-Yorkshire, you ask? “Katherine regularly posts photographs on Instagram, mainly of York, and usually in black and white. She only uses the camera on her phone to take photos, and apart from occasional cropping, and selecting which filter to use, there is no other manipulation or photoshopping of the images,” says Simon.

Bootham Bar, From King’s Manor, by Katherine-of-Yorkshire

“Her preference is to photograph in black and white because she finds the result more timeless than using colour. From our perspective though, in addition to this, we see that she has a seemingly natural talent and eye for composition, and she manages to convey a deep feeling of peace, even when documenting the major floods in York that happen all too regularly, as well as showing a different perspective of well-known places.”

On a housekeeping note, “Katherine’s show will start upstairs but, at some point, will move downstairs so will be around for a little while. Downstairs, what was our current showing will continue for a little while longer, featuring York College artist-in-residence Kate Buckley and Jean Luce,” says Simon. “Kate’s work involves porcelain, sculpted to express the delicacy of folded paper; Jean’s work is mainly seascapes.”

Looking at his 2020 diary, Simon says: “The exhibition schedule has been thrown into complete disarray, but with the help of – and our thanks to – the artists who have all been affected too, we will be rearranging every promised show as soon as we can.

“But we guess it will be quite some time before we are able to hold previews. We still mail ahead of any new showing to keep you informed.”

Finishing on a philosophical note, Simon muses: “Normality will return…whatever the new normal turns out to be.”

.Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, is normally open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Blue Tree Gallery opens The Printmakers Show online as second lockdown exhibition

The Tree By The Edge Of The Forest, by Ed Boxall

BLUE Tree Gallery, in York, is running its second online exhibition, The Printmakers Show, until July 3

Closed to visitors since March 20 under the Coronavirus restrictions, the Bootham art-space is presenting original prints by Giuliana Lazzerini, Melvyn Evans, Hester Cox, Sarah Harris, Ed Boxall and Anna Tosney.

Long-Tailed Tits, by Anna Tosney

“You can now view and buy our wonderful range of original prints from us online,” says Giuliana. “We’re pleased to announce that all work on the website will be posted free of charge during this time, UK only. Charges will apply overseas.

“We really hope you enjoy this exhibition, featuring a variety of gallery artists’ original prints, in the comfort of your own home. Stay safe and take care of yourselves.”

The Hunter At Eventide, by Hester Cox

Blue Tree Gallery held its first online show from April 20 to the end of May to raise funds for the NHS.

Taking part in this inaugural exhibition were Kate Boyce; Deborah Burrow; Colin Carruthers; Colin Cook; Giuliana Lazzerini; Paolo Lazzerini; Neil McBride and Sharon Winter.

Finnesterre Moderate To Fair, by Melvyn Evans

A minimum of ten per cent of the retail price from every original painting sale was donated between the gallery and the artists to the NHS Covid-19 Appeal for York Hospital.

“The exhibition offered all our customers the opportunity to support the NHS, the artists and, of course, the gallery in these trying times, and we can announce we’ve donated £554.70p to the NHS,” says Blue Tree’s Gordon Giarchi.

To view the Printmakers Show works online, go to:

Stoodley PIke, by Sarah Harris

Nothing much happening in these loosening Lockdown days? Everything still being called off? Here are More Things To Do on the home front, courtesy of The Press, York. LIST No. 7

On your mask, get set…go…where?

EXIT stage left 10 Things To See Next Week In York for the still unforeseeable future in these woolly-thinking lockdown times when everyone’s gone to the beach…or Burnsall.

Make do with entertainment at home and now farther afield, in whatever configuration, as you stay alert to working out how to interpret the Government’s green-for-go rules, in the stultifying shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic that has higher figures in York than elsewhere in North Yorkshire, lest we forget.

From behind his door a little more ajar, but still nervous about comings and goings, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Your Place Comedy….from their places: Simon Evans and Jo Caulfield go online for a laugh

Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans, Your Place Comedy, streaming into your living room from theirs, Sunday, 8pm

AFTER Mark Watson and Lucy Beaumont in April, followed by Simon Brodkin and Harrogate’s Maisie Adams in May, Yorkshire’s virtual comedy project Your Place Comedy returns this weekend with a double bill of BBC Radio 4 stalwarts, Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans.

Led by Selby Town Hall manager Chris Jones, ten small, independent Yorkshire and Humber venues unite to present a fundraising evening of humour on the home front, broadcast live from Caulfield and Evans’s living room to yours for free at Donations are welcome afterwards.

Here comes the wickedly fabulous Velma Celli, York’s kitchen cabaret diva

Something Fabulous This Way Comes, Velma Celli’s Equinox, June 13, 8pm

DRAG diva deluxe, Velma Celli, the cabaret creation of York actor Ian Stroughair, invites you to “join me in my kitchen as I celebrate all my favourite witchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals”.

“Equinox is a love letter to all the witches and magical creatures who have graced our stages and screens, from Wicked to The Wizard Of Oz and every belty enchantress from the coven in between,” says Velma, who will sing the siren songs of the hags and creatures that go bump in the night as she weaves her cabaret magic at the witching hour, when daylight and darkness are almost equal.

Since going into lockdown in Bishopthorpe after an Australian tour, Ian has presented two Velma shows online from Case de Velma Celli: a fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice on May 2 and Large & Lit In Lockdown on May 16. Tickets for Equinox cost £7 at:

Alan Ayckbourn and Heather Stoney: Performing together for the first time in 56 years in his audio play Anno Domino. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

If you haven’t heard Alan Ayckbourn’s Anno Domino yet, why not…?

GOODBYE Alan Ayckbourn’s 83rd play, Truth Will Out, postponed at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Hello instead to his 84th play for lockdown times.

Ayckbourn has not only written and directed it, as per usual, but he performs in the audio recording too, marking his return to acting, 56 years after his last appearance on a professional stage in Rotherham.

In one of his lighter pieces, charting the break-up of a long-established marriage and its domino effect on family and friends, Ayckbourn, 81, and his wife, actress Heather Stoney, play four characters each, aged 18 to mid-70s. “We were just mucking about in our sitting room,” says Ayckbourn of a world premiere available for free exclusively on the SJT’s website,, until noon on June 25. 

York Festival of Ideas had a bright idea: let’s go online for a Virtual Horizons fortnight

York Festival of Ideas, staying alert and staying home until June 14

FESTIVAL after festival has bitten the dust in Covid-19 2020, but if one event could be guaranteed to come up with a different idea, it would be…the York Festival of Ideas.

Consequently, ideas are still blooming in June, as the University of York invites you to go on a “journey of discovery that will educate, entertain and inspire you from the comfort of your own home”, under the banner of Virtual Horizons.

The festival team has worked hard with their partners to bring together a diverse programme of talks, music, activities and community trails. Topics range from author Tansy E Hoskins revealing what exactly your shoes are doing to the world (Foot Work, June 6, 1pm), to scientist Phil Ball discussing genetic editing, cloning and the growth of organs outside the body (How To Grow A Human, June 8, 6pm).

Or, if you need your topicality topping up, how about trenchant broadcaster and political commentator Iain Dale mulling over “the phenomenon” of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a talk “big on comedy and fun” (The Book Of Boris, tomorrow, June 5, 6pm)? Comedy? Fun? Just what we need to tackle the Corona crisis.

L’Apothéose in the grounds of the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, York, in 2019. Picture: Jim Poyner

Fieri Consort and L’Apothéose, National Centre for Early Music streamed concert, June 13

THE NCEM, in Walmgate, York, continues to share concerts from its archive on Facebook and online. On June 13 comes the chance to enjoy music by past winners of the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, a double bill featuring Fieri Consort from 2017 and last year’s winners L’Apothéose.

To view Fieri Consort and L’Apothéose in concert for free at 1pm, follow or log on to the NCEM website,

Cotton Bud Carousel Horse, by Vivien Steiner: Inspiration for the Scarborough Great Get Together postcard competition. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust/Vivien Steiner

Scarborough’s Great Get Together, June 19 to 21

ORGANISED by We Are Scarborough and Say Hello Coast, this event is inspired by the Jo Cox Foundation’s national Great Get Together: a celebration of the late Labour MP’s life and her vision of bringing people together.

This year, it will take place online and will include three competitions: creating a postcard comp on the theme of Scarborough Fair; song lyrics and a multi-genre comp for writers, poets, model-makers and performers. 

For more information on the Scarborough Great Get Together, full details on entering the competitions and more about Scarborough Fair and its history, go to: or

Voice of an Angel: Christie Barnes recording her role in the York Radio Mystery Plays remotely from home

York Radio Mystery Plays, on BBC Radio York, Sunday mornings throughout June

YORK Theatre Royal and BBC Radio York are collaborating to bring the York Mystery Plays to life on the airwaves in four 15-minute instalments on the Sunday Breakfast Show with Jonathan Cowap from this weekend.

Working remotely from home, a cast of 19 community and professional actors has recorded Adam And Eve, The Flood Part 1, The Flood Part 2 and Moses And Pharaoh, under the direction of Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster.

Jane McDonald: New date for her Let The Light In concert at York Barbican next summer

Seek out the good news

YORK River Art Market in July and August, ruled out by social-distancing rules. York Early Music Festival’s summer of Method & Madness in July, called off. Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In concert at York Barbican tonight, lights out. The list of cancellations may show no sign of abating, but you can always look ahead by searching for event updates on websites.

York River Art Market? Charlotte Dawson and co promise a return to Dame Judi Dench Walk in 2021. York Early Music Festival? Watch this space for the possibility of an online version of this summer’s festival emerging. Wakefield wonder Jane McDonald? Lights up on July 4 2021.

The Howl & The Hum: York band release their debut album

And what about…

The debut album for our disconnected times, Human Contact, by York band The Howl & The Hum. Jorvik Viking Centre’s Discover From Home, digital resources for stay-at-home exploration, such as videos, downloads and audio recordings about Viking life and culture. Garden centres, the real green-for-go sign of lockdown easement. Castle Howard reopening its gardens and grounds; bookings only. Walks on Hob Moor, to the Railway Pond. Crepes at Shambles Market. Pextons reawakening for DIY needs and more on Bishopthorpe Road.

Are you seeking ideas for Scarborough’s Great Get Together postcard competition?

Lantern slide of a fairground ride in Scarborough. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust is supporting the East Coast resort’s Great Get Together event for the second year running.

The trust is providing inspiration for a postcard competition on the theme of Scarborough Fair. 

Organised by We Are Scarborough and Say Hello Coast, the event is inspired by the Jo Cox Foundation’s national Great Get Together: a celebration of the late Labour MP for Batley and Spen’s life and her vision of bringing people together.

Like many such events this year, Scarborough’s Great Get Together will take place online over the weekend of June 19 to 21.

It will feature three competitions: creating a postcard competition; song lyrics and a multi-genre competition for writers, poets, model-makers and performers. 

The trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “If children or adults want to take part in the Get Together at Scarborough Fair postcard competition, but need some ideas and inspiration, Scarborough Museums Trust is here to help.

Cotton Bud Carousel Horse by Vivien Steiner

“In collaboration with Scarborough artists Helen Ventress and Vivien Steiner, we’ve pulled together some pictures from our collection and specially commissioned artworks introducing simple art techniques.

“These include painting, printing, collage, sculpture and photography, with simple ideas suitable for both young children and adults who like to get creative.” 

These ideas will be available on the We Are Scarborough Facebook page and website, as well as being posted on the trust’s Facebook page,, and on Twitter, @smtrust.

All three competitions will have first and second prizes for entrants aged 11 and under, 12 to 18 and over 18. They are open to everyone and are family friendly, so the organisers ask all those posting entries to bear that in mind.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Monday, June 15, and the winners will be announced online during the Great Get Together weekend.

Scarborough has joined in with the national Great Get Together celebrations for the past three years. Rather than miss out this year, it was decided to go ahead in a way that would bring people together safely in celebration of the town, borough and key workers.

For more information on the Great Get Together, full details on entering the competitions and more about Scarborough Fair and its history, go to: or

York River Art Market won’t set out its stall this summer amid social distancing fears

York River Art Market: Not taking place this summer amid concerns over social distancing

FIRST, no 2020 York Open Studios in April. Now comes a second blow for York’s artists in Coronavirus lockdown as this summer’s York River Art Market season is called off.

“Unfortunately, YRAM 2020 has had to be cancelled,” the official statement reads. “Officials have advised that the space besides the river is unsuitable for social distancing.

“Please check our Facebook page and support our artists. See you all in 2021 for the best year yet. Stay safe and stay well.”

The fifth year of riverside art markets onDame Judi Dench Walk would have run on July 4, 11, 18 and 25 and August 1, 8, 15 and 22.

£10,000 fundraising target set to meet “huge challenge” of mounting York Open Studios next year after cancelled event

The directory for the Covid-cancelled 2020 York Open Studios

YORK printmaker Jane Duke and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel are organising a £10,000 fundraising campaign to boost the “big challenge” of bringing back York Open Studios in 2021.

“Are you a fan of York Open Studios?” they ask. “Cancelling this year had a huge effect on our finances, so we’ve started a GoFundMe to help us make next year brilliant! If you could donate, even a small amount, it would make a huge difference to us and all of our artists.”

Doors shut by the Covid-19 lockdown, York Open Studios 2020 was to have featured 144 artists and craft makers at 100 studios and workshops on two April weekends.

Jane and Beccy say: “In 2020, the timing of the Coronavirus lockdown meant the event was cancelled at less than a month’s notice, by which time the entire year’s budget had already been invested in marketing and publicity.

York printmaker Jane Duke, co-organiser of the Go Fund Me campaign for the 2021 York Open Studios

“With virtually no income from sales commission, and having refunded or credited artists and advertisers, the volunteer committee now face a huge challenge in bringing York Open Studios back in 2021. We need your help.”

The organisers continue: “If you are a regular visitor, we would like you to consider donating the money you would perhaps have spent on petrol or fares coming to see us this year.

“If you have never been but would still like to support the art community, we would very much welcome your donation.”

York Open Studios is run by volunteers and is entirely self-funded, paying for itself by commission on sales, entry fees from artists and the sale of advertising space in the printed directory.

York ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel, co-organiser of the Go Fund Me campaign for the 2021 York Open Studios

In 2019, nearly 49,000 individual visits were recorded at the annual event, a highlight of the York art calendar that is completely free to attend.

“We will be here in 2021 celebrating our 20th anniversary,” say Jane and Beccy. “Many of our artists already have pledged to return, but your support now will help us ensure the festival is as bright, full and visible as ever.

“Your money will be used to promote and publicise the event and to produce printed maps, guides and signage, so visitors can plan their weekends and find our artists. We are already preparing York Open Studios 2021 and by donating now you can help us to move forward with confidence. Thank you!”  

York Open Studios 2021 will take place on April 17-18 and April 24-25 with a preview evening on April 16.
To make a donation, go to

Joys of a daily walk in lockdown are captured in Wanja Kimani’s film Butterfly

Wanja Kimani’s lockdown film Butterfly: Inspired by the daily family walk

WANJA Kimani’s Butterfly, a new film inspired by the everyday pleasures of a daily family walk, will be released on June 2 as the latest digital commission in lockdown from Scarborough Art Gallery.

Butterfly is filmed from the perspective of two children adjusting to life during the Coronavirus lockdown and collects encounters from their walks, when they appreciate nature and music in particular.

Suitable for all ages, Kimani’s six-minute film can be seen on Scarborough Museums Trust’s YouTube channel,, from next Tuesday morning.

One of Butterfly’s highlights will be a performance of Over The Rainbow, from The Wizard Of Oz, played on violin, piano and accordion by two music teachers from their doorstep.

A still from Wanja KImani’s film Butterfly, released on June 2

Kimani, who lives in Cambridgeshire, says: “We heard beautiful music coming from the house one day and put a note on the door to ask if we could film the following day.

“It’s not something we would usually have heard: all of these things are coming together because we’re all forced to be at home.”

Kimani asks both herself and the viewer: “What can we learn from listening even closer to our natural world, which seems to be revelling in our absence? How can the small but magnified details of our journey change how we engage when all of this is over?

“In this digital commission, I am exploring objects from the natural world through the eyes of children, who instinctively collect and curate everyday objects simply by noticing them. 

“What can we learn from listening even closer to our natural world, which seems to be revelling in our absence?” ponders Wanja Kimani in Butterfly

“The title, Butterfly, sums up spring for me: a sign of new life, light and a reminder that things are working even when we don’t see them. It’s something that my youngest has just learned how to draw and is so proud of it.” 

Scarborough Museums Trust wants Butterfly to be accessible to everyone. Consequently, the film includes audio description and captioning, for those who might find this helpful. A transcript is available to download too.

Kimani says: “Thinking about how this work will be accessed has made me pause and reflect on how the tools I use can be used to enrich the experience of diverse viewers. It made me consider how my work may be viewed and what different audiences may need to engage with the work. 

“By embedding access in the process, the work has allowed me to experiment with how different senses engage with work, with the second part of the work attempting to level out the point of entry.”

“Butterfly is something that my youngest has just learned how to draw and is so proud of it,” says filmmaker Wanja KImani

Through film, textiles and installation, Kimani’s repertoire of work “explores memory, trauma and the fluidity within social structures that are designed to care and protect but have the potential to mutate into coercive forces within society”.

She imposes elements of her own life into public spaces, creating a personal narrative where she is both author and character. In 2018, her performance piece  Expectations was included in the Laboratoire Agit’Art presentation during the Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal.

In 2019, she presented her work at Art Dubai and as part of a group show, Yesterday Is Today’s Memory, at Espace Commines, in Paris, France. 

The digital commission series forms part of Scarborough Museums Trust’s response to the Corona crisis, asking Kimani, Kirsty Harris, Jane Poulton, Feral Practice, Jade Montserrat, Lucy Carruthers and Estabrak to create digital artworks for release online across assorted social-media platforms over the next few months.