“Nature always wins” as young York creatives are urged to take part in Green Together project for #Draw With Denmark

A study of nature by York photographer Patrick Heinemeyer, promoting a global green drawing compaign

ALL Saints schoolboy photographer Patrick Heinemeyer is playing a big part in kickstarting a global green drawing campaign for young creatives in York.

Using the hashtag #DrawWithDenmark, for the past two years Viborg UNESCO Creative City has invited children and young people worldwide to draw and participate in a global drawing campaign.

In 2021, York charity New Visuality took part, sending messages of Hope during the pandemic to the children of the world.

This year, the theme is Green Together. Charity director Greg McGee is keen to build a groundswell of interest from a variety of cohorts. 

Joe P, from the Blueberry Academy, enjoying a Green Together project

“Patrick’s photos are a great way to get the conversation started. The challenge is for young people to create their art focusing on how we can save the planet and how we can create a sustainable and greener world,” he says.

“This kind of groundswell is harder than you think to maintain. There’s a kind of fatigue abroad with both artists and viewers that can ultimately prove to be counterproductive.

“The initial spark is crucial. Patrick’s photography brings the natural world to our sessions and provides the perfect platform from which we can inspire continuous creativity.”

Charity co-director Ails McGee concurs: “Our gallery According To McGee worked with a variety of artists, some of whom prioritised provocative shock over aesthetics. Well, there’s nothing more provocative than nature itself.

New Visuality co-director Greg McGee, back row, right, at the Blueberry Academy’s Green Together event

“During the pandemic, we were relentlessly reminded that ‘nature heals’. We prefer to think that ‘nature galvanises.’ Patrick’s photography provides a sharp, glowing portal that hammers home an important point: nature always wins. It’s this that has inculcated some of the best creativity we have ever seen in our outreach sessions.”

Patrick, 16, is delighted his photography is connecting so well. “I enjoy the challenge of capturing in my photography both the fragility and strength of the natural world. In an increasingly urban environment, small reminders that nature continues to thrive seem to hit a nerve.”

Launched on April 15, Green Together runs until August 1. Chris Edwards, chair of REACH (York Cultural Education Partnership), would like as many York schools as possible to become involved after half-term and finish their drawings, collages, paintings, animations by the end of the summer term.

“Breathe air and chill”: Martha, from the Blueberry Academy, captures the spirit of the Green Together project

“The campaign invites children and young people around the world to create drawings that tap into the global green agenda from a hopeful perspective and based on 20 drawing challenges (see the list below).

Greg is confident the project will hit its targets. “It’s a superb initiative and shows that, after a few tough years, York continues to be ambitious and collaborative. Our York partners include Fishergate’s Blueberry Academy and, via our Art Camp sessions, schools such as Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, St George’s and Westfield Primary Community School,” he says.

“By sending drawings from York’s young people to Viborg, York’s creativity will travel out into the world. For now, we’re looking at inspiration, and Patrick Hernemeyer’s photography is the gift that keeps giving.”

You can follow Green Together’s progress on Viborg UNESCO Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and through #DrawWithDenmark.

“In an increasingly urban environment, small reminders that nature continues to thrive seem to hit a nerve,” says photographer Patrick Heinemeyer

What are the drawing challenges for Green Together?

1. How we can make York a greener city.

2. How we can help animals and plants survive this global challenge.

3. How green technology can save the planet.

4. Destination Hope: where are we going in the future?

5. How we can work together to save the planet.

6. Your personal “climate change” challenge.

7. A superhero who saves the Earth from global warming.

8. What animals would say about the climate changing.

9. How nature always wins.

10. Your green hope for the future.

11. How you can take care of nature.

 12. How birds and animals will survive in the future.

13. What you can do to make your neighbourhood greener.

14. What you can do to make your school greener.

15. What you can do to make your home greener.

16. What a world where animals make the decisions looks like.

17. What the house of the future looks like.

18. How we create a sustainable everyday life.

19. A wish from Mother Earth. What is your wish for the earth?

20. Green Together: how do we work together to carry forward the green hope?

Snowdrop: always the first flower to herald a new year of nature’s wonders, photographed by Patrick Heinemeyer


“WE would like as many York schools as possible to take part this year and send their drawings to Viborg to become part of the work that will be in displays across the world,” says REACH chair Chris Edwards.

“BBC Look North and BBC Radio York covered the first Hope project and hope to cover the project this year. We also hope the children’s work will be exhibited at your local Explore York library.

“Your school council, a school class or another group could take part. Feel free to let your creative spirit free in this wonderful campaign.

“We are looking at ways we could enhance and enrich the project. If you need more information or want to talk about how your school might get involved, contact chrisedwards51@hotmail.com.”

York gallery According To McGee exhibits Richard and Chantal Barnes and Freya Horsley at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead

Chantal Barnes and Richard Barnes: According To McGee regulars heading for next month’s Affordable Art Fair Hampstead in London

YORK art gallery According To McGee is making plans for a return to business after a seven-month sabbatical on leaving Tower Street last September.

“We’ve been busy reminding ourselves why we need to celebrate art as gallerists”, says co-director Greg McGee. “York Art Gallery has been a great touchstone, as have locations further afield. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Middlesbrough’s MIMA, even last week’s trip to Belfast’s thriving independent art galleries, gave us a much-needed shot in the arm.

“The York experience can at times be a little insular, both from a purveyors and consumers’ point of view, so we’ve been getting out and coming back feeling re-energised.”

Embracing this outward-looking instinct, Ails and Greg McGee have focused their energies on the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, running from May 11 to 14 on the Lower Fairground Site, Hampstead Heath, London.

Just Behind The Morning, by Chantal Barnes

“We wanted to stretch our curatorial wings outside of Yorkshire,” reasons Ails. “The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is a whole different level of quality and serious collecting. The organisers now hold fairs in ten cities around the world: London, New York, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, Singapore, Stockholm, Melbourne and Sydney.

“They’re dedicated to sharing the importance of loving art, and, when possible, collecting it. On a micro-level, that’s what we do too. So we approached them and they accepted us, and we’re looking forward to exhibiting with them in Hampstead next month.”

Although the McGees are purposely basing this latest chapter of their gallery’s evolution beyond York, a cohort of artists with strong links to York will be leading the way.

“At this stage of our career and with this specific project, it’s important for us to work closely with artists we actually personally like!” says Ails, “We’re handing our exhibition space over to Richard Barnes, Chantal Barnes and Freya Horsley. The three of them have a painterly synergy that has been hugely successful for us in the past and will help steady the ship as we sail into unknown waters.” 

St Pancras Night Bus, by Richard Barnes

According To McGee’s final exhibition after 17 years opposite Clifford’s Tower (see https://fb.watch/jpif4qmZM4/) was a celebration of all three painters, presenting their latest collections.

Will the Affordable Art Fair exhibition provide an opportunity for international visitors to enjoy what art lovers in York have been able to experience, namely three seascape and cityscape painters, all well regarded for years?

“That’s a good question,” says Greg, “The answer helps us distil what we do best. We celebrate contemporary painters, painters who relentlessly evolve, and yearn for the next chapter. It’s not in the nature of any of our painters, especially Richard, Chantal, and Freya, to fossilise their output and become complacent.

“Their current compositions and mark making have all the experimental derring-do of white-hot graduates out of a world-class art school with points to prove and paintings to sell. You don’t get to sell as well as these three, nor do you get invited to exhibit at a globally recognised art event such as Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, without having something exciting and relevant to say.”

Richard Barnes with two of his new metropolitan artworks after his move south from York

Richard, who moved south from York in 2020 after teaching art at Bootham School for many years, is excited to bring his new collection to a wider audience.

“For 17 years I worked on painting York in new ways. The concept of the cityscape was there to be pulled and played with, and the iconic visuals of York was perfect for that – being cheeky, being innovative, reinventing,” he says.

“Now it feels right to focus on London. There are so many stories, so many layers of history to capture. I’m really pleased with this collection, and I’m looking forward to revealing them at Hampstead with According To McGee.”

Chantal, Richard’s daughter, is an increasingly collectible painter with collections already gracing international walls. Hampstead will be her first art fair show.

Artist Chantal Barnes at work

“The vigour with which Chantal pushes paint around is exciting and relevant and indicative of where contemporary painting is today,” says Greg.

“Chantal and Richard have studios not far too apart, and sometimes they even collaborate on the same piece. There’s a wonderful synergy between the two of them, whether that happens to be on the same canvas or two canvases in close proximity, and this show is an exciting opportunity to witness that.”

Freya Horsley has been working on new collections for the exhibition. “While the internet makes artists and galleries increasingly global in their reach, the Affordable Art Fair is exciting because it’s absolutely about seeing real artwork up close and in person,” says the York artist.

“This is something that Greg and Ails have always celebrated and promoted in their York gallery: the physical presence of a painting and the way it can change a space.

Even Now, mixed media on canvas, by Freya Horsley

“Working towards the fair has given me a really strong focus and an opportunity to make big impactful pieces, as well as smaller more affordable paintings, which is part of the rationale of the AAF. Alongside Richard and Chantal, I’m looking forward to showing our work to a new audience in this prestigious setting.’’

Ails is keen to build on According To McGee’s latest stage. “This is going to be about more than sales. The amount of global attention each Affordable Art Fair receives is simply huge, and we’re looking forward to bringing some of that gold dust back home when we relocate in York.”

Greg adds: “It’s this progressive, outward-looking energy that I think serves York so well. Us looking outwards to bring back energy and calibre is what in essence a heritage city like York is obliged to do now, for all kinds of reasons.

Greg and Ails McGee outside their former According To McGee gallery in Tower Street, York. Relocation plans are ongoing

“Unless you want to become Beamish [the Living Museum of the North in County Durham], history only works when you have one foot firmly planted in an innovative future. And rather than being a footnote in the annals of York’s creative scene, we would much prefer to be part of the future than the past.

“The art of Richard Barnes, Chantal Barnes, and Freya Horsley has always flown the flag for what contemporary painting can do, and we’re excited as to what this new approach can bring.”

Watch this space for updates on According To McGee’s relocation plans after the McGee family’s move into Acomb.

Affordable Art Fair Hampstead fact file

AFFORDABLE Art Fair Hampstead presents contemporary art from 100 London, UK and international galleries from May 11 to 14 at Lower Fairground Site, Hampstead Heath, London. Works are for sale at £50 to £7,500.

Visitors can enjoy an art-filled day out with installations, curated displays, rising star artists from University of the Arts, London and Jackson’s Painting Prize, plus bars and cafés. Expert advice is available from the fair’s new art consultancy service “to help make finding your dream artwork a breeze”.

Opening hours are: May 11, general admission, 11am to 5pm; Late View, 5pm to 9pm. May 12, 11am to 5pm, Art After Dark Late View, 5pm to 9pm. May 13 and 14, general admission, 11am to 6pm; Weekend Family Hour, 11am to 12 noon. Tickets: https://affordableartfair.com/fairs/london-hampstead

York artist Freya Horsley, pictured in the former According To McGee gallery space in Tower Street, York

Where else can you see Freya Horsley’s seascapes?

FREYA will be taking part in York Open Studios on April 15, 16, 22 and 23, showing her abstract landscape paintings at Bootham School Arts Centre, Bootham, York, from 10am to 5pm each day, preceded by a preview evening on April 14 from 6pm to 9pm.

Her work explores light, weather and atmospheric effects, building up surfaces with a wide variety of media and processes.

Greg and Ails McGee bid farewell to Tower Street gallery after 17 years with Saturday afternoon party. “You’ll come? Say you will!”

Visual Art Regrooved and now on the moove as According To McGee’s Greg and Ails McGee leave Tower Street with plans for a new venture

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

Acomb husband and wife and business duo Greg and Ails McGee are looking forward to launching their next art space, but first they will mark their exit from their yellow-fronted premises with a party. “You’ll come? Say you will!” rolls out the invitation on Facebook.

The couple met while teaching at Huntington School in York, where Ails (Miss Denholm at the time) taught art, Greg, English and drama.

Watch This Space: How The Press, York, reported the opening of Greg McGee and Ails Denholm’s launch of The ArtSpace gallery and workshop in the former Tower Street offices of Eddie Brown’s bus company . Copyright: The Press, York

In 2005, they opened their gallery in the shadow of  Clifford’s Tower, initially operating as The ArtSpace before the McGees put their name to the enterprise.  Now, coinciding with their own move to Acomb, they are shutting up shop, but not for long. One lease at is at an end, but a new lease of life for According To McGee will take root and beat fruit in suburbia.

“We’ve been busy gutting the gallery,” says Greg. “Chapter one comes to an end, but before we launch chapter two, we plan to have a party – and you’re invited.

Greg McGee, 30, at work on creating The ArtSpace, as According To McGee was first named, in 2005

“We’d love you to come and join us in saluting a wild 17 years’ holding court opposite Clifford’s Tower on Saturday from 4pm till 6pm.

“Paintings by Richard Barnes, his daughter, Chantal Barnes, and Freya Horsley await a final perusal in this location. All artists will be in attendance, as will all McGees.”

Artist Ails McGee (nee Denholm), 32, painting, not an artwork, but the gallery door in 2005

“Come over and say goodbye and peruse and perhaps purchase the paintings of Richard Barnes or Chantal Barnes.”

Greg and Ails are bowing out at Tower Street with Art Happening , the Barnes double bill of the former Bootham School head of art, cityscape artist Richard, and Chantal, a former pupil of Ails, who specialises in seascapes, landscapes and abstracts.

Ails McGee: Gallery co-director, curator, artist and teacher

Barnes & Barnes: Contemporary Painting finds the McGees’ gallery coming full circle. “It was back in 2005 that we launched here on Tower Street with a solo show from Richard Barnes, so this is in a sense a victory lap before we launch chapter two,” says Greg.

More details of what comes next for the McGees will be announced soon. “We hope you’re as excited as we are,” they say. “By the time winter 2022 comes around, all will be revealed.”

Greg McGee: Gallery co-director, curator, teacher-turned-tutor, caricature artist, wedding photographer, Dreamcatcher art advisor, New Visuality charity director, award ceremony host and 2019 judge on BBC One’s Best House In Town

“We were naïve when we started, but with naïveté comes a confidence,” reflects Ails. “Though we’re still just as confident 17 years later, we’re aware that this is the time for a reboot. We’d like to rediscover that sense of risk and experimentation that fuelled us so long.”

Greg concurs: “We started with Richard Barnes and we’ll finish here with Richard and his daughter Chantal’s art. That’s a pleasing narrative. The next chapter will include a dozen new artists we’ve never worked with before, but for now we say, to quote the neon art of Gary Winters & Claire Hind, ‘We Made Something Of This.’ That means a party on Saturday and a salute to everything that’s been.”

Artist Chantal Barnes: Exhibiting with father Richard Barnes in Art Happening, Barnes & Barnes: Contemporary Painting, According To McGee’s last picture show in Tower Street

Greg and Ails McGee select ten moments where According To McGee “altered the cultural atmosphere” in York

It’s Good But Is It Art?, 2006

“IT was our second year as a gallery,” recalls Greg. “York Theatre Royal was getting ready to run Yasmina Reza’s play Art, in which one of a group of three friends purchases a blank white canvas to hang on his wall, leading to all kinds of existential debate.

“We were asked to contribute to their promo theatre booklet, but we thought we’d go further and run a series of exhibitions that asked of our visitors, ‘Is This Art?’.

“It gave us a good chance to distil our ambitions to an irreducible manifesto as well as work with a huge array of local artists. Ultimately though it proved to us as gallerists that we were a gallery in which contemporary painting was going to be our priority.

“It opened the door to Richard Barnes, who really helped us in the early days harness exactly what kind of space we wanted to be.

“The ‘Is It Art’ show was great. We launched it with a private view that hammered home what we were all about in the early days, which was much more about creating events and having packed parties than selling paintings.

“Guests included actors Stuart Organ, Andrew Dunn and Daniel Hill; we had Lord Mayors and Sheriffs; rock band Death Cigarettes performed. York was great back then with a really vibrant scene.”

Greg McGee, centre, and Ails McGee with the It’s Good But Is It Art? artists, including Milladdio (Andy Hinkles), second from right

Poetry! Kenny Goldsmith, Arnold Kemp, Rob Fitterman and Kim Rosenfeld, 2007 – 2010. Dreamcatcher: 2013-2022

“LOOKING back, it’s amazing how much international poetry we managed to fit into our early days,” says Ails. “Kenny Goldsmith, Rob Fitterman and Kim Rosenfeld were – and still are – some of the hottest textual artists in New York. Kenny was featured at President and Mrs Obama’s celebration of American poetry and was subsequently appointed the first Poet Laureate of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“Bostonian Kemp is an artist, poet, and curator and serves as the Dean of Graduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts. They all brought a transatlantic and literary energy to our York gallery.” 

Greg adds: “We continue to fly the flag for poetry via my role as arts advisor for international poetry-zine Dreamcatcher and running exhibitions up until the present day. Staying sensitive to the currents of modern writing has helped us hugely in continuing to curate cutting-edge exhibitions.”

Arnold Kemp at According to McGee: https://vimeo.com/66807378

Kenny Goldsmith at According to McGee: https://vimeo.com/accordingtomcgee

Greg and Ails McGee with Kenny Goldsmith

Interactive Prints: Transamerica, Nathan Walsh, 2013

IN 2013, transatlantic links between York and New York received creative consolidation via an exhibition at 5th Avenue in New York and According To McGee. “York’s own Nathan Walsh, an internationally established painter, exhibited his astonishingly photorealist cityscapes at New York’s Bernarducci Meisel gallery,” says Ails. “Four days before that, a ‘pre-exhibition warm-up gig’ kicked things off at According To McGee.

“It was an opportunity to test some very innovative and experimental approaches. ‘Transamerica’ is a beautiful, bejewelled cityscape of San Francisco. What was especially great was that it’s rigorously observed and painstakingly crafted.

“On another level, Walsh painted it in concert with Newcastle University’s Culture Lab, so that with a free app developed especially for it, viewers could download the app and see the path the painting took, from its sketches to its final completed mark.”

The opening event had 150 people downloading the app simultaneously. “They held their iPod or iPhone in front of the print, seeing the history of one of the most beautiful cityscapes from one of the greatest photo-realists in UK reveal itself,” says Greg.

“It simply changed completely the way you see art. Collectors now had art in their hallway that, by day, was a stylish poster and became, once they had Repentir downloaded, cutting edge, limited-edition digital art. How’s that for a dinner party conversation piece?”

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFglWBPwSEw&ab_channel=TheYorkChannel

New Visuality working on Seebohm: Stories and Gaming in 2014

Seebohm: Stories and Gaming, Nick Walters and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2014

ACCORDING To McGee’s charitable arm New Visuality has worked with young people from across York.

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation provided funding for us to work with young people from York who came from families who had experienced poverty,” says Greg. “For a lot of people, the very concepts of creativity and culture can lead to feelings of exclusion and frustration. 70 per cent of our participants had never visited York Minster.

“We sat with the young people and their families and carers and highlighted a strategic aim: how do we ensure accessible, diverse and inclusive cultural entitlement for young, disadvantaged people in the city via innovative creativity, and to seamlessly include participants who could pay fees? It was a tough call, but the Joseph Rowntree Foundation funding galvanised us on every level.”

The artwork was a mixture of basic gaming, comic-book illustrations, digital art and collage. “We needed to unify it to exhibit it in any meaningful way, so we brought in light installation artist Nick Walters to take over our front window,” says Ails.

“Fresh from installations at York Minster and Glastonbury, he worked with us to get the best out of each participant. He came up with the main visual, to project phrases and text from Seebohm Rowntree’s influential 1901 book, Poverty: A Study Of Town Life.

“Through a semi-transparent patchwork row of terraced houses and characters and their activities created in the project, the words filtered through colours and images chosen independently by our participants; some of their work, some of them working.

“It ended up being part of citywide festival Illuminating York but also stood as an inner-lit testament to Joseph Rowntree Foundation for months.”

Video: https://vimeo.com/111587718

Death’s Door, by Rae Hicks, 2013 , from the Garage Projects exhibition in 2015

Garage Projects, Goldsmiths and Glasgow School of Art Graduates, 2015

THE McGees saw in their tenth anniversary with a group show from Goldsmiths and Glasgow School of Art graduates.

Garage Projects, comprising Rae Hicks, Paul Crook, Jack Park, Mary Wintour, Ian Parkin and Will Thompson, brought ‘Beginnings, Middles, Ends’ to York.

“It was a chance for us to look outwards and chase quality,” says Ails, “Rae Hicks won the John Moores Painting Prize and more recently the Waverton Art Prize, beating 700 submissions shortlisted by the international curator Paint Talk.

“The exhibition launched with a packed event. Both Goldsmiths and Glasgow Schools of Art are so important in influencing the future of visual art, it was exciting to play a part in that.”

Video: https://vimeo.com/130984932

Ails McGee with Sir Ian Botham (now Lord Botham) at the launch of New York, YOU York

New York, YOU York, Dollarsandart featuring Sir Ian Botham, 2015

“DUBAI celebrity artist Jim Wheat, of Dollarsandart, had already encouraged a groundswell of interest in Dubai and the USA. It was thrilling to welcome him to York for an inaugural solo show, and having it officially opened by Sir Ian Botham was an added bonus,” says Ails.

She remembers “Beefy” Botham’s time in the gallery fondly. “He was lovely,” she says. “We talked a lot about the Scottish Borders and my hometown, Kelso. He also collaborated on painting a canvas with Jim, which went on to auction,” she says.

Sir Ian enjoyed his day in York. “It was a great pleasure to open Jim’s show supporting New Visuality,” he said. “I was impressed with how he’d developed his work, and I recommended ‘New York, YOU York’ at According To McGee.”

Text, Technology, Disability & Art: Light installation artist Nick Walters’ project at According To McGee

Text, Technology, Disability & Art, The Print Project, 2016

ACCORDING To McGee employed its charitable arm, New Visuality, to multifaceted effect in an exhibition that brought Greg and Ails the Best Cultural Event award at the inaugural York Culture Awards that year.

“We won in a pitch held at a Digital Innovation Fund GeniUS event the most cutting-edge kit in its field: Ideum’s Platform 46,” says Ails. “We set about building an algorithm-based programme that allowed learners at Blueberry Academy, via magnetic words, to concoct their own slogans and tweets.

“Each message was unleashed as a visual hot-air balloon, where the learner saw their own message join the increasingly complicated Twittersphere surrounding York at that time.

“Many tweeters loved UNESCO’s designation of York as a City of Media Arts; many tweeters were baffled, and many trolls hated the whole thing on principle. The differences in opinion was fascinating, so we thought ‘let’s make art out of this’.”

According To McGee duly contacted The Print Project in Shipley, West Yorkshire. “The Print Project are the Rolls Royce of letterpress printing,” says Greg, “It was an exciting morning at York’s Blueberry Academy when The Print Project first arrived and set up. Letterpress printing is aesthetically glorious and is a great leveller too: anyone can have a go.”

Ails and Greg McGee with York actor Mark Addy after receiving the Best Cultural Event award at the inaugural York Culture Awards in 2016

The learners at Blueberry Academy chose, organised, and pressed their posters. “We spent a summer interfusing innovation and traditional printing techniques,” says Greg. “The learners curated a series of their posters to complement the beautiful Giclée posters designed by Choir of Vision, culled from tweets from members of the public reacting to York’s UNESCO status as #CityofMediaArts.

“Some loved it, some hated it. Either way, the posters were in gallant company with the letterpress posters.

“When it came to the job of imbuing all tweets and slogans with a Jedi-esque digital power, we worked once more with light installation artist Nick Walters. According To McGee became for three weeks a refulgent, futuristic spaceship, all the while building its glorious swagger on slogans written by York’s most vulnerable citizens.” 

Ails adds: “Nick was amazing. He was fascinated by the tweets created by the learners, as well as by the nature of Twitter itself. He built his installation around a bird cage, complete with origami birds, so that when the tweets were projected though it, the messages would refract through the birds and glitter ball, radiating around the gallery and through the front window, beneath the black shadow of Clifford’s Tower.

“It was great to receive the award from Mark Addy at the Culture Awards too.”

Video: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/144349339

Pop Art revivalist Horace Panter with Greg and Ails McGee

The Beano Is 80!, Horace Panter, 2018

SKA legend Horace Panter provided the Pop Art and star quality as the gallery caused an international splash by kickstarting the 80th birthday celebrations of The Beano comic. 

“It was a very light-hearted exhibition, but there was no mistaking the characters’ punk credentials. Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx were disruptors before Johnny Rotten was born!” says Greg.

“To have Horace Panter, who was so instrumental in kickstarting ska-punk with The Specials, mediate the characters through his own Pop Art filter was hugely exciting, relevant, and irreverent.

“We had Dennis and Gnasher diving into Hockney’s LA swimming pool; Minnie the Minx as a Warholian starlet and Lord Snooty in a Lichenstein frame, complete with Ben Day dots.

“The Bash Street Kids invaded the high art world of Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Collectors from all over the UK attended the opening and we sold massive originals and more limited editions than Gnasher has had sausages.”

Video: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/751792201

Greg McGee with a Banksy artwork at the Hello There! exhibition in late 2019

Hello There! Banksy, Grayson Perry, Vic Reeves, and Dscreet, 2019

“IT was just before the pandemic, when a collector friend of ours donated world-class art, including pieces by heavyweights Banksy, Vic Reeves (aka Jim Moir), Grayson Perry and urban artist Dscreet,” says Greg. “We thought we’d launch it as we would any other exhibition, but this art was just so instantly collectible, it sold straight away via phone calls.”

Ails adds: “It was a weekend event that was over too soon. It was a shot in the arm in that it brought us to a wider audience and reminded us that investing in globally collectible art is a serious business.”

Bob Frith, from the Dave Pearson Trust, with Greg and Ails McGee

Painting: Figures Underground And Imagined, Dave Pearson and ex-miner Harry Malkin 2019; The Return Of The Painter, 2016-2022

“DIGITAL art and poetry are great, but ultimately our raison d’être is contemporary painting,” says Ails. “In the case of Dave Pearson, who died in 2008 of cancer, his art is especially poignant. The Guardian has him as ‘a great British painter’, BBC Radio 4 as ‘the greatest painter we never knew’. Internationally respected art critic Edward Lucie-Smith hails him as a ‘really major artist’.

“Credit must go to the Dave Pearson Trust, who initially rescued his studio in Haslingden and continue with it as their full-time job to organise his art, with experts applauding their hard work and declaring that the collection is worth more than £1 million.”

According To McGee’s collaboration with the trust will continue to grow. “We’ve worked with them for years, and in 2019 we threw a new synergy into the mix.

“Ex-miner and full-time artist Harry Malkin creates contemporary painting that can hold its own alongside Dave’s, providing counterpoints and consolidations all the while.

“Harry Malkin’s first-hand depictions of mining are the finest in the UK, endowing torchlit moments of toil with a muscular theatricality. Cheeks and eye sockets are ink black, shoulders are slick crescents, and amid the trembling chiaroscuro, the figures quicken and bristle in their brutal work.

“Their poise and movement are perfectly calibrated with the instinct and knowledge hewn from many decades’ worth of witnessing and working more than one mile deep underground.”

Ails concludes: “Painting has never been more needed, and with the likes of Amrik Varkalis, David Baumforth, Freya Horsley, Chantal Barnes Julia Poulton at the forefront, the medium is showing no signs of letting up soon.”

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hum_aiXXFUo&ab_channel=Ails%26GregMcGee

Lights out after Saturday’s party for “We Made Something Of This”, Gary Winters & Claire Hind’s neon sign at According To McGee’s Tower Street gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chantal Barnes at work on a painting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artwork from the Barnes + Barnes exhibition by Chantal Barnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Golden Memory Of York, by Richard Barnes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magical Monk Bar, by Richard Barnes

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

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

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

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

Chantal Barnes at work on a painting

More Things To Do in and around York for June 18 to June 26, as the Romans invade again. List No. 87, courtesy of The Press

Cherie Gordon in Everyday, on tour at York Theatre Royal in Deafinitely Theatre’s 20th anniversary tour. Picture: Becky Bailey

FROM the Pride parade to Roman festivities, Americana musicians to English prog legends, defiant deaf theatre to bracing art, Charles Hutchinson savours a diverse diary ahead.

Empowering play of the week: Everyday, Deafinitely Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm

FOUR people come together to perform a ritual of community and catharsis. Gathering up true stories of deaf women and non-binary people’s experiences of surviving abuse, they form a witches’ coven like no other, replete with a cauldron of newt’s eyes and butterflies, deep scars, and blazing signs.

Commissioned by New Diorama Theatre, Deafinitely Theatre’s playful, urgent, defiant world premiere by writer-director Paula Garfield combines British Sign Language and oral English as it draws on interviews to explore domestic abuse and mental health in the deaf community. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Davina De Campo: Performing at York LGBT Pride at Knavesmire

Fiesta of the week: York LGBT Pride, June 18, from high noon

THE York Pride Parade leaves from outside York Minster at Duncombe Place. Best advice: arrive at 11.45am, ready for departure at 12 noon, with the parade arriving at Knavesmire (Tadcaster Road end) between 1pm and 1.30pm.

On the main stage, hosts Miss Sordid Secret and DJ Kira introduce live music and entertainment from Nadine Coyle, Davina De Campo, Duncan James, Marcus Collins and Jo O’Meara. York Pride is a free family-friendly event, but donations are welcome.

Dolphin Hotel, by David Finnigan, at According To McGee, York

Exhibition launch of the week: Contemporary Painting: Elementals and Synthesis by Freya Horsley and David Finnigan, According To McGee, Tower Street, York, June 18 to July 11

EXHIBITING Freya Horsley, from York, alongside David Finnigan, from Scarborough, is “not so much a duo show, more like two exhibitions in one gallery,” says According To McGee co-director Greg McGee.

“Freya and David are far removed in terms of subject and mark making, but there’s enough intersection to be able to build an event like this.”

Horsley’s Elementals works focus on seascapes full of bristling light and spray, serenity and inner-lit joy; Finnigan’s four new Synthesis paintings are geometric abstractions influenced by sound and modulation. 

Sunday’ll be the day for That’ll Be The Day! at Grand Opera House, York

Tribute gig of the week: That’ll Be The Day!, Grand Opera House, York, June 19, 7pm

THIS long-running show, now into its 36th year, celebrates the golden age of rock’n’roll and pop from the 1950s through to the 1980s.

That’ll Be The Day combines comedy sketches and impersonations with stellar vocals and musicianship, fronted by director, producer and vocalist Trevor Payne. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/York.

Courtney Marie Andrews: Third time lucky for Phoenix singer-songwriter as she returns to Pocklington at last

Americana gig of the week: Courtney Marie Andrews, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 19, 8pm

AMERICAN singer, songwriter, poet, musician and now artist Courtney Marie Andrews makes her long-awaited return to Pocklington this weekend.

Phoenix-born Courtney, 31, twice had to postpone the follow-up to her December 2018 gig. The focus was expected to be on the 2021 Grammy-nominated Old Flowers, but now that she has announced the October 7 release of ninth album Loose Future on Fat Possum, hopefully she will showcase new material too. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Yes, it is Yes: Playing Close To The Edge at York Barbican

Progressing to the past: Yes, York Barbican, Wednesday, 8pm

PROG rock pioneers Yes’s Album Series Tour 2022 celebrates the 50th anniversary of Close To The Edge, the September 1972 album inspired by Siddharta and their “state of mind” at the time.

Wednesday’s concert combines the iconic album in full with further Yes classics, performed by Steve Howe, guitars, Geoff Downes, keyboards, Jon Davison, vocals, Billy Sherwood, bass guitar, and Jay Schellen, drums and percussion. Legendary Yes artwork artist Roger Dean opens the show with a video wall of images and graphics and a reflection on his long history with the band. Tickets remain valid from the postponed May 19 2021 date. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

The Felice Brothers, James, second from left, and Ian, right, with band members Will Lawrence and Jesske Hume

If you are yet to discover…The Felice Brothers, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm

THE Felice Brothers, the folk rock/country rock band from the Hudson valley of upstate New York, are led by Ian and James Felice, joined on this tour by Will Lawrence on drums and Jesske Hume on bass.

Inspired equally by Woody Guthrie and Chuck Berry, they began in 2006 by playing subway platforms and sidewalks in New York City and have since released ten albums, the latest being 2021’s From Dreams To Dust. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Charge! The Eboracum Roman Festival is on its way

Festival of the week: Eboracum Roman Festival, June 25 and 26, all day

THE Legions of Rome take over York Museum Gardens for a packed weekend of outdoor festivities featuring a Roman Living History Encampment between 10am and 5pm each day; the Kids Army and Roman-themed family activities run by Playful Anywhere from 11am to 3pm on both days. Entry is free.

Head inside the Yorkshire Museum to discover Roman treasures, especially the new exhibition The Ryedale Hoard: A Roman Mystery.  

Authors of Roman fiction and non-fiction will chat and sign books in the Tempest Anderson Hall from 10am to 4pm each day.

The Chemical Brothers: Get ready for Block Rockin’ Beats at Castle Howard

Big beat of the week: The Chemical Brothers, Castle Howard, near York, nearer Malton, June 26; gates open at 5pm 

HEY boy, hey girl, electronic pioneers The Chemical Brothers are taking to the stately-home grass this summer as Manchester big beat duo Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, both 51, galvanize rave diggers.

Expect such dancefloor nuggets as the chart-topping Setting Sun and Block Rockin’ Beats, Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Let Forever Be, It Began In Afrika, Star Guitar, Galvanize, Do It Again. Got To Keep On and Go. Camping will be available. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.

Attraction of opposites permeates Freya Horsley and David Finnigan’s Elementals and Synthesis show at According To McGee

Everything in modulation: Scarborough artist David Finnigan with his Synthesis works at According To McGee

ACCORDING To McGee plays host to a “double happening”, Contemporary Painting: Elementals and Synthesis by Freya Horsley and David Finnigan, from this weekend in York.

Co-director Greg McGee sees the summer exhibition as an opportunity to reaffirm the Tower Street gallery’s manifesto. “Not so much a duo show, more like two exhibitions in one gallery,” he says. “Freya Horsley and David Finnigan are far removed in terms of subject and mark making, but there’s enough intersection to be able to build an event like this.

“Their common ground is a fearlessness with what contemporary painting can do, and we find that the proximity of both collections in the same gallery not only augments the collections respectively, but also highlights the strengths of each other.

Out Of Darkness, mixed media, by Freya Horsley

“There are flickering moments in all of the paintings here, and a lot of the magic is found in the disparate synergy”.

Elementals and Synthesis is “like nothing According To McGee has exhibited previously in its 17 years”, reckons Greg. “We’re used to dovetailing the collections of painters who share similar visions, whereas this time we have really gone for a discrepancy that cracks open not only the magic of the paintings we have here, but says something about painting in general.”

David Finnigan’s Synthesis is characteristically exact, although he is at pains to highlight how his art has evolved. “These four works represent, for me, a change in the direction of my working practice,” says the Scarborough hyperrealist. 

“While they retain some of the exactitude and realism of my previous work, there’s more of a painterly feel to these new pieces. Also, a new aesthetic, which exhibits an expressive freedom within the confines of realist painting. 

Low Pitch, by David Finnigan, from his Synthesis series

“They embrace some of the techniques I’ve learned and developed in my other non-visual creative outlets, particularly from the world of sound.”

Not only a looser approach to the confines of realist painting is applied, but so are an amalgamation and superimposition of separate geometric compositions over the existing realist composition. 

“These geometric abstractions function aesthetically in their own right, and they have a force and a dynamic that adds energy,” says David. “Visually, in isolation, these geometric compositions echo the work of the constructivists, the suprematists, or even futurism and vorticism from the early 20th century.

“Added together with the realist composition, they ‘modulate’ the existing work, changing the dynamic through the use of the aforementioned energy, but equally importantly through the use of colour, which is a very powerful tool. The now superimposed compositions, ‘modulate’ each other.”

Dolphin Hotel, by David Finnigan

Regarding the concept of “modulation”, David sees a simple parallel in the world of sound with the technique of FM or “Frequency Modulation” synthesis – which, as a side note, powered the soundscape of 1980’s pop and rock music. 

“Simply put, in ‘FM’ synthesis, one waveform modulates the other wave to create something new. This is what I’m attempting visually,” he says.

“Another important parallel is the idea of ‘glitch’, a sub-genre of electronic music that became popular in the 1990s, but actually its origins again can be traced back all the way to futurism, specifically with  Luigi Russolo’s piece The Art Of Noises.

“Here again, I attempt to apply the concept of ‘glitch’ visually to these compositions, in which, as in music – where the beat and order of the music is broken and reprocessed so some feeling of order remains – I would like to break up the surface of the two superimposed compositions to break up the order and reprocess it to create something new that has a different rhythm.”

York artist Freya Horsley with her Elementals works at According To McGee

Freya Horsley’s return to According To McGee comes after a sell-out exhibition of the York artist’s winter collection of elemental seascapes. “They were huge!” says gallery co-director Ails McGee, “They were the biggest paintings we have ever exhibited here, and that’s some claim.

“But they connected well with browsers and clients alike, with one going to a collector’s house in Poppleton and one travelling all the way to Glasgow.”

Freya’s depictions of the sea and land resonate still more in our era of nature’s curtailment. “The sheer scale of some of the paintings has only added to that,” says Ails.

Until We’re Seen, by Freya Horsley

Freya’s new Elementals series builds on her trademark bristling light and spray but Ails point to new developments too. “Freya has always, from time to time, primed her canvasses with neon paint, which helps to endow her otherwise layered sense of peace and serenity with a bounce and inner-lit joy,” she says.

“This time, the joy she skewers comes from a wild attack of neon paint on top of the tender and elemental background, rather than beneath it; a technique most obvious in her massive work Out Of Darkness. It’s a radical step for her and really amps up the wide-eyed sense of wonder that Elementals celebrates.”

Asked to predict the next direction of Contemporary Painting’s evolution, Greg points to Finnigan’s paintings. “These are painted in egg tempera. That’s something that goes back thousands of years and was used in ancient times. It fell into disuse with the popularisation of oil painting in Europe in the 15th century,” he says.

“But now David is using it with a showman’s chutzpah. So, is this retro, or is this radical and contemporary? It feels a little like when a rock band performs an ‘MTV Unplugged’ session. There’s nowhere to hide but in the quality of the songs, and in a multimedia age, there’s something radical in that.”

Bee-Bop, by David Finnigan

David agrees: “In my eyes it has the capacity to be beautiful and elegant, in the medium itself,” he says. “It is egg yolk, water and pigment and, if non-toxic pigments are used, completely inert. But it is also beautiful and elegant in the aesthetic effect of the finished work itself. 

 “In our modern day of awareness of sustainability and our ever-increasing eco-friendly approaches to life in general, egg tempera actually fits in well with these philosophies, and maybe it will have its day in the sun again.”

Contemporary Painting: Elementals and Synthesis by Freya Horsley and David Finnigan runs from Saturday, June 18 to Monday, July 11 at According To McGee, Tower Street, York; open Monday to Saturday, 12 noon to 4pm.

For more information on David Finnigan: accordingtomcgee.com/collections/david-finnigan; Freya Horsley, accordingtomcgee.com/collections/freya-horsley

This Day, by Freya Horsley

Young talents’ work to go on digital display at According To McGee after Easter’s New Visuality art camp at Bar Convent

Director Greg McGee, right arm raised, leads the cheers at New Visuality’s Easter Art Camp for York school children

YORK charity New Visuality is to illuminate the wall of its gallery window space at According To McGee with the artwork of the city’s young talent.

After holding creative workshops for 25 participants over Easter and renewing its collaboration with University of York’s SplashBy, New Visuality will mount a showcase of digital projections of art, films, and slogans at the Tower Street art space from early May to early June.

“Not only do we want to get the projections up and running before the summer evenings take over,” says charity director Greg McGee. “But also the artwork has been so good, and the links made between grassroots football clubs, community cafés and the city’s heritage so healthy, that a digital exhibition in our window opposite the newly refurbished Clifford’s Tower makes perfect sense, especially if it’s to be done in a timely manner.”

New Visuality’s Art Camp sessions, funded by City of York Council’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, focused on healthy eating, physical exercise and how to reflect these issues in painting and digital art.

New Visuality Art Camp participants at Bar Convent at Easter

Teenage art ambassadors from York High School, All Saints School, Millthorpe School, and Archbishop Holgate’s School led the sessions. “Generally, the younger people came from the west of York,” says Greg, “So the visual reference points were West Bank Park, Hob Moor, Acomb Front Street and Acomb Green, but there was also a York-wide conversation to be had.

“One thing we found was that there are so many young people who haven’t experienced heritage in their city, so we organised a trip to Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre.

“As ever, the welcome was warm and the experience was a real buzz, especially the reading session we had with internationally published author Karen Langtree.”

Bar Convent staff were delighted to see the young artists sit down and draw, take photos with professional cameras and listen to the excerpts.

“I Hope We Can Play Footy”: Artwork by Erin from the New Visuality Art Camp, soon to feature among the digital projections at According To McGee

Volunteers manager Lauren Masterman says, “It was a joy to welcome these young artists to the Bar Convent. They brought great energy and enthusiasm as they explored the chapel and the collections in our exhibition, and it was lovely to see how much they enjoyed Karen Langtree’s interactive storytelling session. We’re very much looking forward to seeing the artwork they have produced.”

The activities were fuelled each day with fresh food from Choose 2 Cafe, a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Hull Road. “The food was great and led to lots of discussions on how fast-food outlets manipulate catchy slogans and attractive colour schemes to reel you in,” says Greg.

“To help hammer home how important a healthy lifestyle is, we knew we had to get in someone who the young people could relate to, so we gave grassroots football club York RI a call.”

Step forward Under-14s players Matteo and Niall. “Their careful guidance and knowledgeable overview of what to eat and how to make fresh fruit as attractive an option as fast food were humbling,” says Greg.

Food, football and now art ambassadors: Niall, left, and Matteo, from the York RI Football Club’s Under-14s team, dispensing healthy tips and fodder at the New Visuality Art Camp

“As far as we’re concerned, Matteo and Niall can proudly call themselves art ambassadors and can count on similar paid opportunities in the future. I’m looking forward to watching them continue to help develop the creativity of the young people we work with.”

Matteo was delighted to take part in the activities, “It was great to be around creative people and help inspire them with how to draw art linked with sport and to give advice on what to eat and how to exercise.” 

Look out for the digital projections in the window of According To McGee from May 5, every night from 5pm to 10pm, for a month. “The artwork itself is excellent, and now we have the technology we can get it out in an elegant, immersive way and allow it to develop with the artwork from future art camps,” says Greg.

“Watching this project evolve from a school holiday art camp into a far-reaching collaboration with York schools, Bar Convent, and York RI Football Club has been a highlight of my career.”

Kimbal Bumstead and Simon Crawford unite to bring bursts of profuse colour to According To McGee in synchronised show

Painter Kimbal Bumstead stands outside According To McGee against a backdrop of the soon-to-reopen Clifford’s Tower

YORK gallery According To McGee launches its Return Of The Painter 2022 series with a duo exhibition by painters Kimbal Bumstead and Simon Crawford.

Gallery co-directors Greg and Ails McGee have opted to put the emphasis on scale and colour. “But it’s not just the ‘wow’ factor,” says Ails. “There are deeper meanings behind the collections of Kimbal and Simon. This, and the fact that their latest paintings dovetail so well with each other, means that the time is right to hand over the reins to both of these fascinating artists.”

Bumstead and Crawford are synchronising their creativity for the first time for this show’s run from Saturday until Monday, April 4 at the Tower Street gallery.

Bumstead, new to York but with years of experience of painting under his belt, brings a new energy to the gallery buoyed by exhibiting in Sheffield, Tokyo, Amsterdam and at the Mall Galleries in London, as well as teaching abstract art classes with York Learning.

“It’s really thrilling to be an artist,” he says. “My job is to bring things into existence that weren’t there before, and I use colour and mark-making to get there. But there are other aspects too. These paintings aren’t just experiments in colour, nor are they just expressions of feelings, they are also explorations of journeys into other worlds.”

Painter Kimbal Bumstead, right, with All Saints School students Emma Storkey, George Clarke and Emmanuelle Butler, on work experience at According To McGee

The Kimbal Bumstead collection, Segments Of Journeys, hangs on the wall of the front gallery opposite Clifford’s Tower, where they “pulse and shimmer, suggesting memories and half-formed ideas”.

“The subject matter isn’t fixed, it’s yet to be defined,” says Bumstead. “If the idea of journeying is the building block of the painting, the overarching theme is that there’s no destination.

“I love the process of trying to let go and getting lost in the painting. That’s a positive to me and reflects on how I live my life. Stuff happens, you navigate it, and hopefully you enjoy the process.

“I like trying to see a street differently each time I walk down it, and the same goes for my paintings. Each time I look at them, I find something new, something I hadn’t noticed before.”

Bumstead points to the intersecting colours and mark making on the surfaces of his paintings, with some strokes sliding into areas that had been painted much earlier. “It’s like landscapes,” he says. “I like how a landscape in real life has different layers. Physical layers, ideas that people project, memories, different stories, traces of the old next to the new. It’s something I’m really keen on capturing.”

Cool Shade, Running Water, by Simon Crawford

Explaining further, he says: “It’s not dissimilar to experiencing York as a city. On the one hand, you see what’s on the surface, the old buildings next to new ones, but then there’s another world, the one you have to imagine, the one where different stories have taken place and settled like sediment. That’s really the case with this collection; there is not just one way of seeing it.”

Gallery co-director Greg says: “It’s heavy stuff, but at its heart it’s an antidote to the current obsession with targets and data. This is less harnessing data and more harnessing dreams, which is a priority in most artists’ manifestos.”

On the opposite wall hangs Cool Shade And Hot Light, the new collection by Knaresborough artist Simon Crawford. “In terms of scope and vividity, the collections complement each other, with Simon’s approach perhaps more relatively literal in his depictions of his experiences,” says Greg.

Crawford’s work comes in response to his travels in India. “To call it a ‘life-changing experience’ is to underestimate it,” he says. “It brought me new textures and colours, and I have been trying to skewer them in my palette and on the surface of my canvases since. I think this collection is a true representation of what I saw and how I saw it.”

After exhibitions in Dean Clough galleries in Halifax, Moscow galleries and Messums North, he brings his impressionistic portraits of India to According To McGee, much to Greg’s delight.

Surrounded by colour: Painter Simon Crawford with his artworks at According To McGee

“What’s especially great is that when Simon now turns his attention to northern subject matters, he filters his depictions through the conduit of tropical heat, so that you get Rievaulx Abbey endowed with the glittering humidity of an Indian jungle,” he says.

“It’s witty and sensual, and it’s exactly what we’re looking for in our search for more excellent painters to represent. Simon’s use of colour is instantly recognisable, and it’s humbling to see he’s showing no signs of backing down.”

Ails adds: “The Punjabi palette seems to work really well with our collectors, especially here in the north. Whether it’s from Simon or Kimbal, or from McGee favourites like Amrik Varkalis, a fearless celebration of hot colour connects with clients. Whether that’s down to the general doom and gloom of our times, or the drizzly weather, we haven’t worked out yet!

“But we’ve worked hard on curating this exhibition, helped in no small way by Emma Storkey, Emmanuelle Butler and George Clarke, who, as Year 10 students from All Saints School, have spent ten days on work experience with us.”

Return Of The Painter 2022: Kimbal Bumstead and Simon Crawford launches at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, on Saturday at 12 noon and closes on April 4. Gallery opening hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturdays, 11am to 4pm; or by appointment on 07973 653702.

Colours From A Hot Land, by Simon Crawford

More Things To Do in York and beyond the norm as horror shows and love stories beckon. List No. 73, courtesy of The Press

2,000 shows and counting: Kristian Lavercombe, as Riff Raff, far right, clocks up another milestone in The Rocky Horror Show on its return to York . Picture: David Freeman

LET’S do The Time Warp again? It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to right, to enjoy plenty more of Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations.

Fancy dress invitation of the week: Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday

KRISTIAN Lavercombe celebrates his 2,000th performance as Riff Raff as Richard O’Brien’s 1973 musical extravaganza enjoys yet another York run.

Alongside Lavercombe in Christopher Luscombe’s touring production will be 2016 Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba as preppy college nerd Brad Majors, Haley Flaherty as squeaky-clean fiancée Janet Weiss and Stephen Webb as castle-dwelling Transylvanian transsexual doctor Frank-N-Furter.

Cue fabulously camp fun and even camper costumes, shlock-horror comedy and science-fiction send-ups, audiences in fancy dress and sassy songs such as Sweet Transvestite, Science Fiction/Double Feature and The Time-Warp singalong. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

New Beverly Cinema, by Imogen Hawgood, at According To McGee, York

Exhibition launch of the week: Imogen Hawgood and Horace Panter, Hyperrealism in America and Japan, at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from 11am today until March 25

NEW According To McGee signing Imogen Hawgood, from County Durham, introduces her collection of realist paintings in a duo show with Pop artist and Ska legend Horace Panter, The Specials’ bassist.

Panter’s Edward Hopper-inspired depictions of Midwest motels, inner-lit Japanese kiosks and sun-warmed Coca-Cola crates complement Hawgood’s exploration of Americana icons and the idea of “the road” as a transitional landscape.

The vampire strikes back: Steve Steinman’s Baron von Rockula with his vampettes in Vampires Rock – Ghost Story

Rock horror show: Steve Steinman’s Vampires Rock – Ghost Train, Grand Opera House, York, tonight (12/3/2022), 7.30pm

NOTTINGHAM singer and producer Steve Steinman returns to York with his tongue-in-cheek show stacked high with rock anthems, guitar gods and vampy vampettes.

Steinman’s Baron von Rockula and his vampires take refuge in an old fairground’s ghost train as he seeks a new virginial wife after the death of his beloved Pandora. Ordering faithful sidekick Bosley to find him one, enter Roxy Honeybox.

Now in its 20th year, Vampires Rock sets a cast of singers, dancers and musicians loose on Queen, AC/DC, Bonnie Tyler, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Journey and Guns N’ Roses chestnuts. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/York.

Glenn Tilbrook: Squeezing in hit after hit at The Crescent

York gig of the week: Glenn Tilbrook, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 7.30pm

THIS is a standing show…and an outstanding one too as endearing and enduring Deptford singer, songwriter, guitarist and troubadour Glenn Tilbrook makes his debut appearance at The Crescent.

More than 45 years after he first answered an ad placed by Chris Difford looking for like-minded sorts to form the band that became the evergreen Squeeze, an ending is nowhere in sight, even if he called his fourth solo album Happy Ending in 2014. Expect silver-tongued Squeeze and solo numbers, peppered with audience requests, tomorrow night.

Squeeze up, by the way, because this Gig Cartel-promoted gig has sold out. Fingers crossed for any returns (www.thecrescentyork.com), but otherwise you’re really up the junction for a ticket.

Alexander McCall Smith: Delving into his books at York Theatre Royal

Literary event of the week: Alexander McCall Smith, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 7.30pm

YORK Literature Festival plays host to Alexander McCall Smith as he discusses the new instalment in his long-running Scotland Street series, the warm-hearted, humorous and wise Love In The Time Of Bertie.

Fiona Lindsay pops the questions, intertwined with footage shot on location in Edinburgh, wherein McCall Smith invites guests into his study, where he writes surrounded by paintings and books, and visits key landmarks from the books.

The festival follows from March 18 to 27 with full details at yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

NOT Thu 17 March 2022 after all: It’s different for Joe Jackson now as York gig moves to the summer

Postponement of the week: Joe Jackson, Sing, You Sinners! Tour, York Barbican, moving from March 17 to July 29

BLAME Covid for this delay to only the second ever York concert of singer, songwriter and consummate arranger Joe Jackson’s 44-year career.

“After months of uncertainty, it finally became clear that continuing Covid restrictions (particularly on venue capacity) in certain countries, would make our Spring European Tour un-viable as planned,” says Jackson’s official statement. “We can’t tour at a loss, and the situation did not look like changing soon enough.”

Tickets remain valid for the new July 29 date when Jackson promises hits, songs not aired in years and new material. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Sam Freeman: Thirty years of love burst out of his storytelling show in Harrogate and York

Storytelling show of the week: Sam Freeman, Every Little Hope You Ever Dreamed (But Didn’t Want To Mention), Cold Bath Brewery Co Clubhouse, Harrogate, Monday, 7.30pm; York Theatre Royal Studio, Friday, 7.45pm

FORMER York Theatre Royal marketing officer and 2009 TakeOver Festival co-director Sam Freeman heads back to his old stamping ground with his solo rom-com for the lonely hearted and the loved-up, armed with a projector, a notebook, wonky spectacles and nods to Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill.

Freeman, marketeer, occasional writer, director and stand-up comedian, combines storytelling and whimsical northern comedy in his multi-layered story of a chance encounter between two soulmates, how they fall in love, then part but may meet again. Box office: Harrogate, harrogatetheatre.co.uk; York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

For Charles Hutchinson and Graham Chalmers’ interview with podcast special guest Sam Freeman, head to the Two Big Egos In A Small Car listening link at: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/10231399.

Off to the woods: Northern Broadsides in As You Like It

Shaking up Shakespeare: Northern Broadsides in As You Like It, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Tuesday to Saturday; York Theatre Royal, March 23 to 26

MARKING Northern Broadsides’ 30th anniversary, artistic director Laurie Sansom’s diverse cast of 12 northern actors captures the “sheer joy of live performance and the crazy power of love to change the world” in his bold, refreshing take on Shakespeare’s most musical comedy.

Exiled from the court, high-spirited Rosalind, devoted cousin Celia and drag queen Touchstone encounter outlaws, changing seasons and life unconfined by rigid codes in the forest.

Gender roles dissolve and assumptions are turned on their head in a natural world of endless possibilities. Box office: Scarborough, 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com; York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Lola May as daughter Aramide, Oyi Oriya as mother Omotola and Anni Domingo as grandmother Agbeke in Utopia Theatre’s Here’s What She Said To Me

Touring show of the week: Utopia Theatre in Here’s What She Said To Me, York Theatre Royal Studio, Thursday and Friday, 7.45pm

MEET Agbeke, Omotola and Aramide, three generations of proud African women connecting with each other across two continents, time and space, in Oladipo Agboluaje’s distaff drama, conceived and directed by York St John University graduate Mojisola Elufowoju.

Together the women share their struggles, their joys, tragedies and broken dreams, in order to find healing in the present. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.