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.

Imogen Hawgood makes According To McGee debut alongside Pop artist Horace Panter in hyperrealism double delight

Las Vegas Pioneer Club, by Imogen Hawgood

YORK gallery According To McGee introduces a new painter and illustrator to their growing stable of artists this weekend for the Hyperrealism in America and Japan show.

Imogen Hawgood, from County Durham, brings her collection of realist paintings to Tower Street for a duo show with Pop artist and Ska legend Horace Panter, The Specials’ bassist.

“The inaugural aspect is important to the gallery as we continue to celebrate our 17th anniversary,” says co-director Greg McGee. “We’ve been blessed to run an art gallery in such a wonderful city through so many triumphant and difficult times.

Beer Crates, Tokyo, by Horace Panter

“The worst thing to do is fossilise and rely on our biggest sellers. The beauty of York is that, as a city with so much heritage, there’s a huge market for all things contemporary, and we’ve always tried to engage with that.”

Horace Panter and his hyper-art is no stranger to the McGees. “I’ve been working with According To McGee for a number of years now and am delighted to be bringing Americana and Japanese street scenes to this exhibition with Imogen,” he says.

Panter’s slices of punk-infused realism are instantly recognisable on the gallery’s white walls. “From Edward Hopper-inspired depictions of Midwest motels to the inner-lit thrum of Japanese kiosks and sun-warmed Coca-Cola crates, his collection complements perfectly Imogen’s art, which explores the icons of Americana and the idea of ‘the road’ as a transitional and symbolic landscape,” says Greg.

New Beverly Cinema, by Imogen Hawgood

Hawgood’s focus has turned to American landscapes and roadside imagery, together with experimentation with light leaks and colour effects. “Imogen spent some time in Los Angeles and is now lasering in on the American Dream, with its mythic allure of the West,” says gallery co-director Ails McGee.

“Viewers will see that her work is instantly cinematic. There’s the composition and lighting that feels really filmic and looks iconic and stylish, like a modern Hopper. Depictions of Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema help hammer home this vibe.”

Imogen says: “The freedom of the American open road has been a powerful image for generations on both sides of the Atlantic, representing for some self-discovery, for others a path to redemption.

“I try to capture a sense of movement through my composition and use of colour and lighting,” says County Durham painter and illustrator Imogen Hawgood

“Through the use of my own photography, as well as found footage, the images I create juxtapose an air of nostalgia with contemporary viewpoints. I often use the interior of a car as a frame through which to view a passing landscape and try to capture a sense of movement through my composition and use of colour and lighting.”

While working on new images, Hawgood works up ideas by using a thumbnailing process influenced by film storyboarding. “Film is an important source of inspiration across many areas of my practice, influencing my choices across composition, colour and lighting,” she says,

“I’m particularly drawn by stark lighting traditionally used in film noir, and more contemporary takes on this genre, like the neon chaos of Ridley Scott’s neo-noir Blade Runner.

Las Vegas Double Exposure, by Imogen Hawgood

“Thematically, I’m also inspired by films such as Easy Rider, Thelma And Louise and Kalifornia; examples of narratives which also question the allure of the road and where it may lead.”

Hawgood has exhibited in the New Light exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery and at the Holt Festival in Norfolk. In 2020 she was shortlisted for the ING Discerning Eye, John Hurt and Sworders art prizes; last year she was highly commended in the watercolour category at the Broadway Arts Festival competition. Overseas, her work has been shown at the Vestige Concept Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ails concludes: “Horace Panter has taken his position in the pantheon of UK Pop artists. His contribution to the cultural landscape is indisputable, so it’s especially exciting to introduce Imogen to our collectors in this way.

Japanese Vending Machine, by Horace Panter

“When established artists are in such proximity to rising stars, it can really make a gallery’s walls zing. This is a great result, not only for York’s cultural life, but also for the north, and we’re looking forward to seeing existing collectors and meeting new collectors this weekend.” 

Horace Panter and Imogen Hawgood’s Hyperrealism in America and Japan exhibition runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from March 12 to 25.

Gallery opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturday, 11am to 4pm; or by appointment on 07973 653702.

‘My aim is to create art that seems incomplete, impermanent and imperfect,’ says sculptor Janie Stevens as According To McGee exhibition opens this weekend

Sculptor Janie Stevens, flanked by According to McGee co-directors Greg and Ails McGee

ACCORDING To McGee launches its series of Affirmations exhibitions with a fusion of ceramics and sculpture tomorrow (8/1/2022).

“We’re still all about the paintings,” says Ails McGee, co-director of the gallery in Tower Street, York. “I’ve been working on my own series of Still Lifes; Beth Ross is here, David Baumforth, Horace Panter too, but we just thought the blank slate of 2022 merited a new approach and so we have some new 3D items.”

They take the form of a ceramic collection from David Austin Duckworth and the latest forms from celebrated sculptor Janie Stevens, who lives just outside York.

Part of Janie Stevens’ sculptural paean to simplicity, Imperfect

“What was important was to kick off the year with art that is for the most part positive and aspirational,” says Ails. “The front gallery is a battle-cry for the positive values of art. Art often throws the cultural equivalent of a Molotov cocktail into contemporary life, but it can also simply reflect what’s aspirational and optimistic.

“Sculptor Janie Stevens launches Imperfect, a sculptural paean to simplicity. It’s her collection of sculptures that greets the visitor in our front gallery and we’re delighted to be widening our remit with work such as this.”

Yorkshire-born Janie says: “Direct carving is a way of freeing the spirit, both my own and the spirit of the stone. I really enjoy observing how the stone changes as the light falls – pure alchemy! My work is hand carved, original and, above all, tactile. Sculpture is not just for the eyes.”

Artist Harry Malkin with Ails McGee at According To McGee in 2019

She encourages connecting with the natural stone through touching, feeling and stroking a sculpture too.

“I take inspiration from Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Tony Cragg,” says Janie, who works with local quarried stone, both in limestone and soapstone. “I’m driven by shape, tactility and emotion; three-dimensional form excites me as I continually test my understanding of the natural world.

“My aim is to create art that seems incomplete, impermanent and imperfect, which therefore aesthetically has no limitations to its beauty and simplicity.”

“Harry is an ex-miner and knows exactly what it is to work chest deep in freezing black water one mile underground,” says Greg McGee

Co-director Greg McGee highlights the latest work by According To McGee regular Harry Malkin, on view in the back gallery in the briefest of exhibitions. “It’s a pleasing counterpoint to the front room,” he says. “Harry is an ex-miner and knows exactly what it is to work chest deep in freezing black water one mile underground.

“These portraits of a rapidly vanishing world from a true draughtsman are a crucial part of Britain’s recent heritage, but they’re here for Saturday only, so if anyone needs a contemporary reason to visit their favourite heritage city, this is it.”

Janie’s art also can be found online at: accordingtomcgee.com/collections/janie-stevens

‘Style is what comes from you,’ says artist Alex Utley as he runs Our Style project

York artist Alex Utley: Finding inspiration in Marvel

YORK artist Alex Utley reckons “fashion is about someone else deciding what looks good on you but style is what comes from you”.

His comment comes as New Visuality’s Our Style project is kickstarted in York after receiving a National Lottery award from the National Lottery Community Fund.

In the lead-up to Christmas, the project is working with 20 young people who have experienced learning difficulties or physical disabilities.

Sessions have been running in York city centre, led by Alex as chief curator. The Our Style At Christmas event at Guildhall’s ArtSpace saw more than 50 people drop in to buy jewellery, candles and T-shirts, and the project has had a presence at the Blueberry Christmas Fayre at York’s Melbourne Centre too. 

Charlie Pickering photographing models

When asked who he thought had blazed the trail to help to hammer home how style, not fashion, had provided lifelines to so many struggling people, Alex does not hesitate: “I like people who march to the beat of their own drum,” he says.

“You get Harry Styles and Yungblud from this generation, and from days gone by you had people like David Bowie or Elton John – he wore some right stuff!”

Alex is bringing his own energy inspired by these trailblazers to the project, although it is less their stylistic choices that have galvanised him, more that they have burst through closing doors.

“My stylistic choices are my choices,” he says. “I don’t look at Bowie and say, ‘That’s a good look, I’m going to wear that’. It’s more, ‘They did this at this moment in time to help people like me choose more freely’.

Lou Hicken and Lauren Farrow at the Blueberry Pop-Up

“So, someone who is comfortable enough in their own masculinity to wear a dress doesn’t change who I am. It helps strengthen my own outlook on life.”

Alex is speaking from his home in Acomb, but he is a regular learner at Blueberry Academy and has led on many previous New Visuality projects. He sees Our Style as a chance to “bring to the light many issues previously touched on”. 

“Clothes rightly or wrongly come accompanied with such powerful associations, but they should never be more powerful than the wearer,” he stresses. “My style doesn’t change who I am. My jumper or dress doesn’t have a gender; it is fabric.  I might like it, and if I like it, I’m going to wear it. My heroes have helped me to stop thinking about others’ opinions and to just do it.”

Over the years, Alex’s philosophy has consolidated. “I’ve hopefully made a small difference up to now. During certain youth groups and football sessions, I feel I may have changed people’s perceptions.

Lauren Farrow taking part New Visuality’s Our Style project

“A mate’s younger sister couldn’t wrap her head around seeing a different version of me. She had my old self stuck in their mind, and she used my dead name because she just couldn’t see that I was now Alex. 

“So I used an analogy: when Transformers change, they change because they weren’t happy as, say, a car; they couldn’t be themselves, they transformed into robots, more powerful. She seemed to get it! This project, Our Style, will hopefully build on that.”

Alex is not only relishing the opportunity to curate the participants’ artwork, he also sees the celebration of style as a chance to balance out past negative experiences.

“Everyone sees disability first,” he asserts. “There’s so much ableism, even in areas you wouldn’t expect. Disabled people could wear the same thing as able-bodied people and the mainstream media might refuse to publish or show it.

Jordan O’Brien in one of the T-shirts from New Visuality’s Our Style project

“It’s not just the mainstream media; it happens in areas where you would otherwise expect more acceptance. The main reason why I do my hair in different colours is because I want people to see me before the wheelchair, before the splints, before the tubes.

“Back in the day, the amount of people that would look at my legs, my arm, the tubes, before seeing me as even half a person, was depressing. The second I dye my hair, they see the colour and the person before they begin staring without shame at parts of my life I have to live with.”

This month’s continuing art sessions and next year’s events and happenings in locations around York will have Alex’s stamp all over them.  “It’s a great project. It’s an opportunity for young people to have fun in areas that have previously been marginalised and their ideas unexplored,” he says.

“We’re grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund and indeed everyone who continues to buy National Lottery tickets. It’s good to be able to show that all that money goes a long way in helping the most vulnerable people in our communities take their fair share of celebrating their communities.”

For art and items of clothing created in Our Style projects, check out According To McGee’s gallery, opposite Clifford’s Tower, and the Blueberry Pop-Up Shop in Micklegate, York.

Why Angus Vasili finds cause for optimism in his Brutalist architecture screenprint exhibition at According To McGee

J B Morrell Gallery, screenprint, by Angus Vasili, at According To McGee , York

ARCHITECTURE is the focus of Angus Vasili’s Optimism and Brutalism exhibition at According To McGee, York.

“Since the first Lockdown we found that nature does more than heal,” says Greg McGee, the Tower Street gallery’s co-director. “It can provoke and galvanise, and a lot of that energy can be found in the new seascapes or moorscapes that collectors have been buying or commissioning.

“We’ve had more collectors asking about cityscapes and depictions of architecture; something about the definition of hard angles and the certainty of edges is chiming with tastes. We thought it was about time we gave Angus Vasili a ring – and that’s how this Optimism and Brutalism show came about.”

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

The McGees are of the mind that Brutalism’s reputation is in need of rehabilitation. “It goes beyond subjective opinions,” says co-director Ails McGee. “These buildings were once loved for their linear honesty but now they’re often derided. Vasili pulls them out from ‘Architectural Cancel Culture’ and to re-evaluate them.”

By using titles such as Central Hall, Hayward Gallery and JB Morrell Library, Vasili’s latest collection gives an idiosyncratic overview of Brutalism’s greatest hits.

“They are more than mere portraits of their stark subject matter,” says Greg. “His silkscreens are at heart playful experiments. There are blushes of hot colour, dancing, broken lines, white slices of negative space deliberately alone.

Artist Angus Vasili with gallerists Ails and Greg McGee at According To McGee

“These come from a love of the process and the accidents it throws up, as much as the focused observation of a building style that most people think leaves no room for flexibility.”

Angus explains: “My fascination with concrete, industrial landscapes and what I recently came to know as ‘brutalism’ has triggered this series of screenprints. I’m combining photography, texture and printmaking to create a raw aesthetic that resonates with the fundamental material of brutalism.

“I use a combination of bold colour and texture to help convey the optimism that these architects strived to achieve with this period of architecture.’’

Hayward Gallery, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

Optimism and Brutalism will be on show in According To McGee’s front room until November 14. “It’s a sharp reminder that there’s room for more than ancient history in York,” says Greg. “There have been calls to demolish York’s Stonebow and replace it with faux Georgian gentility, which would be even more irksome, because of its sleight of hand.

“We’re opposite Clifford’s Tower, arguably York’s most famous landmark. We can see for ourselves how Vasili’s art contributes to the discussion of York’s architectural continuum, and we’re finding that our clients and collectors are in agreement.”

Gallery opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturdays, 11am to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702. For more information on Angus Vasili, go to: accordingtomcgee.com/collections/angus-vasili.

Spectrum Haze II, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

Knaresborough duo Simon Crawford and David Austin Duckworth bring Indian and Cornish colours to According To McGee

Colours From A Hot Land, inspired by Indian travels, by Simon Crawford

ACCORDING To McGee’s campaign to “alleviate anxiety caused by uncertain times” gathers pace with the duo exhibition Colour & Ceramics at the ever-revolving gallery in Tower Street, York.

No sooner has she launched her own collection Affirmations, in celebration of the reviving powers of tea, than artist and gallerist Ails McGee has curated a new show by Simon Crawford and David Austin Duckworth for the front gallery opposite Clifford’s Tower.

“Colour is underrated in Britain,” she says. “After 19 months of relentless bad news online and in the papers, it’s sometimes an obligation for creatives to stop reflecting the anger of the times and instead try and find a little optimism. That’s why there’s such an explosion of colour here at the moment.”

Colour & Ceramics sees the launch tomorrow of new collections from painter Simon Crawford and painter and ceramicist David Austin Duckworth, on the back of Crawford’s return from a trip to India.

Knaresborough artist Simon Crawford at work in his studio

“This has provided a portal into the theme of the exhibition,” says gallery co-director Greg McGee. “Simon’s art has been exhibited internationally, with shows in Moscow and, a little closer to home, at the Dean Clough galleries in Halifax, helping give this collection an extra heft and pull for collectors across the UK.

“But it’s also the fact Simon travels and soaks up his experiences with such obvious wonder and gratitude that imbues his paintings with such ripples of light and dark.

“To hear him talk of watching the Indian jungle come to life from his train window in the red light of the evening is thrilling, and then to hear him talk of how Covid-19 has decimated the shanty towns of Amritsar and Mumbai is a reminder that recent history has been a nightmare for millions of people.

Whinny Bank, Rievaulx, by Simon Crawford

“Art is never going to fix these problems, but it can be a hammer we can use to help shape our response. In this case, it’s a very colourful hammer.”

Crawford has brought back to his North Yorkshire studio a new appreciation of colour and energy, even filtering his depictions of North Yorkshire’s Whinny Bank at Rievaulx through the conduit of a Punjabi palette.

Looking forward to exhibiting at According To McGee, he says: “The concept is a brilliant one from the gallery: brightening these rather grim days through colour.

A David Austin Duckworth painting in the front window of According To McGee, York

“India is visually explosive and an eyes-out-on-stalks experience. A love affair was ignited by the intensity of the Indian palette. This show will set the visual taste buds tingling as the English autumn approaches.

“My work takes you on a journey through the Rajasthan landscape of pink saris against pale green and yellow mustard fields. India made me reimagine my vision of the English landscape.”

Complementing Crawford’s vivid compositions, fellow Knaresborough artist David Austin Duckworth continues his Cornwall Inspired collection in celebration of the elements, especially those found in Cornwall.

David Austin Duckworth in his studio

“Not all of us managed to get to Cornwall this summer, so experiencing David’s artwork is the next best thing. David’s paintings are alive with light and turquoise seas, and his Raku-fired ceramics ache with how precious nature is. Simon and David work well together, and it is a duality we’d like to continue to exhibit.”

Greg concludes: “We’re excited! There’s a whole load of reasons for people to visit York city centre; we like to think that contemporary art is increasingly up there at the top of the list.”

Simon Crawford & David Austin Duckworth: Colour & Ceramics runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from October 7 to 21; open daily, 12 noon to 5pm, except Sundays, or by appointment on 07973 653702.

According To McGee gallerist Greg McGee with a painting by David Austin Duckworth

Tea time! How a reviving cuppa has inspired Ails McGee’s mellow Affirmations paintings

Ails Mug-ee! York artist Ails McGee with her paintings in celebration of the cuppa and Hygge at According To McGee

EVERYTHING starts with tea for York artist and According To McGee co-director Ails McGee.

Key to Ails’ latest artistic development is the scale and quality of this city’s tea shops. “After a while, you need to reach for something that isn’t wine,” she says. “And we’re very well looked after by tea havens such as Tullivers, Hebden Tea and Tea Palace. 

“But it’s not just the tea. There are these little affirmations that are attached with string to the tea bags and they’re wonderful. Such a simple little morning ritual has become like a prayer for me, especially at this time of chaos, and that serenity has most definitely fed into my new collection of paintings.”

Why has everything stopped for tea in this preamble? Because gallerist Ails has picked up the paint brushes once more to bring her Affirmations to the ongoing Return Of The Painter series at the McGees’ gallery in Tower Street, York.

My Day Begins And Ends With Gratitude, mixed media on board, by Ails McGee

Before establishing According To McGee with husband and business partner Greg in 2004, Ails was a successful painter, exhibiting in her native Kelso in the Scottish Borders and around Yorkshire.

Bringing up three children, together with gallery and charity commitments, meant the brushes were lain to rest until the “parsimonious proposals from politicians on essential exercise” for Lockdown 1 prompted her to go back to the drawing board.

The Return of the Mc went so well that her “comeback” show of North Eastern seascapes sold out in a day in July last year as the ebullient Tower Street art space welcomed browsers for the first time since the Covid-enforced shutdown on March 23.

Now, in the wake of Return Of The Painter: The Sea, The Sky, The City, Ails has turned her attention to all things “hygge” [the Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of cosiness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment].

The return of the painter in gallerist, mother and charity champion Ails McGee, at peace in her studio

Cue her latest collection, all semi-abstract compositions of teacups and vases, bearing such titles as Come Home: All Is Well And I Am Safe, My Day Begins And Ends With Gratitude, I Am Connected To My Power Centre, Find The People Who Make You Feel Like Sunshine, I Allow Myself To Play And Be Silly and As I Return To The Shore I Feel Braver Than I Did Before.

That’s some departure from your depictions of the North Sea, Ails? “The subject matter is different but the theme is the same. These paintings are celebrations of optimism and positivity at dark times,” she says of her works inspired by affirmations, colours, pebbles, textures and, yes, those reviving cups of tea.

“It’s just that, rather than the light on the horizon, they find hope in the straightforward act of making a pot of tea or living with simplicity and without clutter.”

Managing the gallery and producing new collections of painting has “never been easier” for Ails. “The daily pause that comes with enjoying Yogi tea and following the guidance provided on the actual tea boxes has led to a more relaxed mindfulness. That is most certainly true,” says Ails.

Mood board: As I Return To The Shore I Feel Braver Than I Did Before, mixed media on board, by Ails McGee

“But I’m a businesswoman too, so it’s very gratifying to see such successful sales. Private collectors snapped up the first wave of paintings. The second wave has gone to The Backyard, in a commission, which is hugely exciting to be part of something so visually stunning.” 

What and where is The Backyard, Ails? “The Backyard, or Bakgardurrin in Icelandic, is a holiday let in Heworth, managed by Gudbjorg Halldorsdottir as an Icelandic retreat for visitors from Iceland and elsewhere,” she says.

“The commission caught my imagination and allowed me to align my new passions: Affirmations, Art, Tea, all displayed in a location curated with genuine northern hygge and with such taste.

“The art looks perfectly placed and is available to buy for visiting guests. It’s an honour to be able to provide such souvenirs for visitors to York.”

Mugs of tea in the artwork, but strangely not on the table! Artist Ails McGee and Icelandic host Gudbjorg Halldorsdottir in The Backyard, Gudbjorg’s holiday let in Heworth

Gudbjorg says: “The idea of running a luxury holiday let in York has been brewing in my mind for a while. As an Icelander, I’ve been living in York for three years. I feel passionate about spreading the word and enabling as many as possible to experience this wonderful city.

“When the opportunity to buy a new-built house in our backyard emerged, I wanted to explore the possibility of collaborating with local people and businesses in York.”

As a lover of art, she was keen to add “something special” to the house and to work with York artists to display their work in The Backyard.

“My partner and I have been lucky to get to know the lovely Greg and Ails McGee. I noticed that Ails had a beautiful collection of small pieces. Her work was exactly what I was looking for,” she says.

Hitting the spot: Abundance Flows Freely To Me, mixed media on board, by Ails McGee

“I hope that my guests at The Backyard will enjoy the artwork and take the opportunity to purchase a piece as a perfect souvenir of their stay.”

Ails is enjoying painting a new collection to meet demand from new clients. “Affirmations, as a collection, has definitely struck a chord and I feel I’m onto something positive at a time when things have been so tough.

“If an artist can feel vindicated by the support of visionaries such as Gudbjorg and new collectors, then I am indeed blessed.”

Yes, it’s time for Affirmations, a browse and maybe a brew at According To McGee, open Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm, Saturdays, 11am to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702.

Empowering: I Am Connected To My Power Centre, mixed media on board, by Ails McGee

More Things To Do in and around York as creative night market launched. List No. 49, courtesy of The Press, York

Big news! York artist Freya Horsley, right, and gallery co-director Ails McGee with Freya’s paintings Turning Tide and Liquid Light at According To McGee, York

BIG paintings, a night market, thrillers at the double, cookery chat, an anniversary celebration, a long-awaited Scottish return and a brace of comedians are the diverse focus of Charles Hutchinson’s attention.

Exhibition of the week: Freya Horsley, Contemporary Seascapes, According To McGee, York, running until October 11

ACCORDING To McGee is playing host to the biggest paintings the Tower Street gallery has ever exhibited: Liquid Light and Turning Tide, two mixed-media works on canvas by Freya Horsley.

The York artist is displaying a new series of seascape paintings depicting the Cornish, Scottish and north east coastlines.

“Her art makes you look twice because it has a calming quality and, like a good sunrise, it makes you go ‘wow!’,” says co-director Greg McGee.

York Creatives Night Market: Debut night of arts, crafts, music, food and drink at Shambles Market tomorrow

York Creatives Night Market, Shambles Market, York, tomorrow, 7pm to 10.30pm

POSTPONED at short notice on August 20, the debut York Creatives Night Market goes ahead tomorrow in a chance to browse art and products by independent traders.

Street food, drinks and music all evening are on the menu too for this free event, open to all.

The Rusty Pegs: Tenth anniversary concert at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Celebrating ten years on: The Rusty Pegs, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Saturday, 8pm

TEN years ago, York country band The Rusty Pegs formed, drawn from volunteers at the Monkgate theatre, who were asked to perform their debut gig there at a Raising The Roof fundraiser.

To mark a decade of making music together, the Pegs have decided to come full circle by performing an anniversary gig in the same place where it all started, this time launching the autumn season. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

No mistaking Justin Currie: Del Amitri return with Fatal Mistakes album for first York gig since 2002

Long time coming: Del Amitri, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.45pm

DEL Amitri follow up the May 28 release of their seventh studio album, Fatal Mistakes, with a return to York Barbican after a 19-year hiatus.

Justin Currie’s Glaswegian band last played there in May 2002, the year they released their last album, Can You Do Me Good?.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since we toured with a new album, lord knows what took us so long,” says Currie. “The prospect of sprinkling our set with a few choices from Fatal Mistakes fills us with the sort of excitement that, for some men of our age, might call for light medication. We think the adrenaline will see us through.” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

No smoke without ire: Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss blows his top at York Barbican

Comedy gig of the week: Daniel Sloss: Hubris, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm

SUNDAY’S gig is third time lucky for Scotsman Daniel Sloss, whose October 3 2020 and May 8 2021 visits were ruled out by the accursed Covid.

Sloss, 30, has sold out six New York solo off-Broadway seasons, appeared on American television’s Conan show ten times and toured to more than 50 countries. Now, at last, comes his new show, with special guest Kai Humphries.

Look out for Sloss’s book, Everyone You Hate Is Going To Die (And Other Comforting Thoughts On Family, Friends, Sex, Love, And More Things That Ruin Your Life), from October 12. For tickets for Sunday, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

What’s cooking? Cookbook writer Yotam Ottolenghi finds flavour at York Theatre Royal on Tuesday

Flavour of the month: Yotam Ottolenghi, A Life In Flavour, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday, 7.30pm

CHEF, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi reflects on A Life In Flavour, provides cooking inspiration and signs copies of his “flavour-forward, vegetable-based” cookbook, Ottolenghi Flavour, after the show on Tuesday.

West Jerusalem-born Ottolenghi will be discussing the tastes, ingredients and flavours that excite him and how he has created a career from cooking.

Expect “unique insights into how flavour is dialled up and why it works, from basic pairings fundamental to taste, to cooking methods that elevate ingredients to great heights”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Dane Baptiste: Comedian with a chip on his shoulder at Burning Duck Comedy Club

The other comedy gig of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Dane Baptiste: The Chocolate Chip, The Crescent, York, September 23, 7.30pm

IN his own words, Dane Baptiste is now a “grown ass black man, too old to be concerned with chicken or trainers, too young to be considered a peer of Trevor McDonald”.

Has he got a chip on his shoulder? “Yes. A chocolate one,” says Baptiste, a south east London stand-up who once worked in media sales.

Noted for his boldly provocative material, he hosts the podcasts Dane Baptiste Questions Everything and Quotas Full. Box office: thecrescentyork.com/events.

The Rowntree Players’ poster for next week’s production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web

Web of the week: Rowntree Players in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, September 23 to 25, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

DIPLOMAT’S wife Clarissa is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room, she finds live drama much harder to cope with in Rowntree Players’ autumn return, directed by Howard Ella.

Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. 

In a conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie’s Spider’s Web delivers suspense and humour in equal measure in an intricate plot of murder, police detection, hidden doorways and secret drawers. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

In the chair: Just Some Theatre in rehearsal for The Killer Question, heading to Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

Mystery of the week ahead: Just Some Theatre in The Killer Question, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, September 25, 7.30pm

THE Silence Of The Lambs meets Last Of The Summer Wine in Dave Payne’s dark comedy thriller The Killer Question, marking the York debut of Manchester company Just Some Theatre.

Did The Chair game show champion Walter Crump’s obsession with death ultimately lead to his own? Inspector Black believes so, and now Crump’s dopey widow, Margaret, finds herself accused of her husband’s murder. 

Faced by more than one deadly twist in the tale, can Inspector Black solve the mystery? Will Margaret be home in time for Countryfile? Just as important, which actor – Peter Stone, Jake Urry or Jordan Moore – will play which character? The audience decides. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.