Moths matter, says artist Sarah Gillespie as they “hum quietly” in Castle Howard show

Ermines, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

DEVON artist Sarah Gillespie will present Moth at Castle Howard, near York, from May 29 to September 5.

The exhibition is the result of an ongoing project that, for the past two years, has seen Sarah research, draw and engrave common English moths by way of highlighting their dramatic and devastating decline and celebrating their overwhelming importance. 

“If what I have been given is the ability to focus, to pay attention, and if there is even the remotest chance that in attending lies an antidote to our careless destruction, then that’s what I have to do – to focus,” she says. “It’s not enough but it’s necessary.”

Common Quaker, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

Moth will feature all 22 of Sarah’ mezzotints as well as a new work, her largest mezzotint to date. Measuring a monumental 2ft by 3ft, Peppered Moth marks a stark change to a process normally measured in inches and not feet.

Sarah will live onsite in the grounds of Castle Howard as part of a month-long artist’s residency, where she will study its moth population and produce new works in response, including one created publicly during visiting hours.

Castle Howard’s publicity for Moth rallies to the defence of an insect “frequently considered a pest, deeply unloved by most humans and grossly misunderstood and overlooked in favour of the more colourful, daylight-dwelling butterflies. However, moths are more numerous and more varied.

Yellow Tail, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

“They are a major part of our biodiversity and hold vital roles in the wildlife ecosystem as pollinators, recyclers, and food for bats and beloved songbirds.”

Highly topically, the United States-based pharmaceutical company Novavax has used moth cells to create its coronavirus vaccine. Part of the Lepidoptera group of insects, meaning “scaly winged”, moths matter.  From the silk road to ultra-new vaccines, life is tied up with moths.

Since 1914, it is believed that around 62 species of moths have become extinct in Britain alone. In the last 35 years, the overall number of moths here has fallen by around one third owing to habitat loss, intensive farming, commercial forestry and light pollution.

Hebrew Character, by Sarah Gillespie

Species such as the well-known Garden Tiger have fallen in number by 80 per cent or more. Sarah’s work “draws attention to this catastrophic collapse while tenderly celebrating their unseen nocturnal lives, exquisite diversity and the poetry of their common English names”. 

Her use of mezzotint – a labour-intensive tonal engraving technique used widely between the 17th and early 19th century – is key in rendering the nocturnal quality of both the subject matter and the works themselves.

It is only through repeated careful and gradual scraping and polishing of the copper mezzotint plate that these soft gradations of tone and rich and velvety blacks are revealed.  At times presenting themselves in all their astounding detail and at others disappearing altogether, Sarah’s moths hum quietly, a gentle reminder of what may disappear permanently.

Pale Emerald, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

The creation of the Peppered Moth mezzotint is of particular relevance to Castle Howard, whose landscaped gardens provide the ideal location for its own large and varied moth population.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the species experienced a rapid evolutionary mutation, causing it to turn black. The Peppered Moth’s unusual colour change saw it darken in response to its habitat that became increasingly polluted and soot covered, allowing it to camouflage and escape predators.

It was in industrial Yorkshire cities, close to Castle Howard, that the phenomenon was observed in 1848, a full ten years ahead of Charles Darwin’s world-recognised theories on natural selection.

Peppered Moth, smaller, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

The introduction of clean air laws in the 1960s saw the previous speckled variety return. Creating a mezzotint on this large scale has been a significant feat for Sarah, taking her a number of months to perfect.

The Peppered Moth will become a focal point for the Moth exhibition, not only for its sheer size but to reflect the tenacity of these creatures and the geographical ties to Castle Howard behind this particular species’ fascinating evolutionary story.

Nicholas and Victoria Howard, owners of Castle Howard, say of the exhibition: “We were first introduced to the work of Sarah Gillespie about eight years ago and quickly realised that she was one of the greatest landscape and nature artists of her generation.

Small Phoenix, mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

“We are therefore delighted to be hosting her exhibition, Moth, at Castle Howard and contributing, albeit in a small way, to raising awareness of both the beauty and ecological importance of these magical creatures.”

Throughout the exhibition, numerous bookable events will be taking place at Castle Howard in collaboration with Sarah Gillespie and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, highlighting the importance of moths in the natural world.

As well as talks, the public will be able to join breakfast and dusk walks, viewing these elusive creatures in their natural habitat, as well as a weekly online live streamed event that will see Sarah release moths caught humanely overnight within Castle Howard’s grounds.

White Ermine Moth , mezzotint by Sarah Gillespie

She also will demonstrate the work that goes into making and printing her intricate mezzotints as she creates a new piece inspired by her month-long residency at Castle Howard, with the process able to be viewed in person and real time by visitors. All event and booking information can be found at castlehoward.co.uk.

Sarah Gillespie: Moth will be accompanied by a revised second edition of the ar4tist’s previously sold-out book of the series. The new hardback edition features three additional moth prints, an introduction by author and naturalist Mark Cocker, alongside a specially gifted poem by Alice Oswald.

It is available to buy at £45 from Castle Howard’s gift shop and directly from Sarah’s website,  sarahgillespie.co.uk/editions/moth/.

Sarah Gillespie, Devon artist and printmaker, exhibiting Moth at Castle Howard from May 29 to September 5

Who is Sarah Gillespie?

 SETTLED with her family in the south-west region of Devon, Sarah is an artist of integrity and skill in observing and representing the natural world, focused primarily on the countryside of England that surrounds her daily.

Born in Surrey, she studied at the Atelier Neo Medici in Paris and the Ruskin School of Fine Art at Oxford University. She was awarded the Egerton Coghill Prize for landscape painting, and the international Elizabeth Greenshield Award for figurative painting in her early career.

She is known for the mezzotint printmaking technique that she has adopted to capture the half-tones and gradients of the limited palette of black and white and subtle shades of brown and grey she uses to create her work.

Sarah is a member of the RWA (Royal West of England Academy). In 2019, her work was recognised at the International Mezzotint Festival in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where she was awarded the prize for Adhering to the Traditions and Skills of Graphical Work. To find out more, go to: sarahgillespie.co.uk.

Ronan Keating moves Twenty Twenty tour date at York Barbican from 2021 to 2022

RONAN Keating is rearranging his Twenty Twenty UK tour date at York Barbican for a second time, but the title will not change to Twenty Twenty Two.

First moved from June 19 2020 to July 6 2021, the show has been rescheduled to January 23 2022.

A statement on the York Barbican website explains: “It was very much hoped that following the Government’s roadmap-to-lockdown-easing announcement, Ronan’s Twenty Twenty UK tour could take place as scheduled in the summer of 2021.  

“Despite efforts by Ronan’s team working closely with the venues, sadly it will not be possible for these tour dates to take place at this time, and as such the date has been rescheduled to January 23 2022. 

“Ticket holders should hold onto their tickets as they will remain valid for the rescheduled date.”  

The Twenty Twenty tour takes its title from the Twenty Twenty album that Irish boy band graduate Keating released in May 2020 on Decca Records to mark the 20th anniversary of his chart-topping solo debut, Ronan.

Twenty Twenty vision: Ronan Keating wanted to make “a greatest hits of brand new music”

“There’s not a lot of artists that have been lucky enough to do 20 years and still be here,” he said at the time,” appreciative too of sustaining solo and band careers. “I’m very honoured to have had that, so I wanted to mark it with an album like this.”

Dubliner Keating, who turned 44 on March 3, describes Twenty Twenty as “a greatest hits of brand new music”To help his 20th anniversary celebrations, he made two inspired choices: to dive into his back catalogue to revisit three of his biggest hits and, for some new numbers, to call in some friends.

First single One Of A Kind, despite its title, is a duet, wherein the Irishman is joined by Emeli Sandé. “I guess I’ve been known for those first dance songs at weddings and this has me written all over it,” says Keating. “It’s all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together.”

He decided the song demanded a duet partner, and for Keating there was only one choice: the Sunderland-born, Scottish-raised Sandé.“I was completely honoured when Emeli said she’d love to do it,” he says. “I was just blown away by her vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible.”

For Twenty Twenty, Keating had production assistance from his longstanding wingman, Steve Lipson, who has worked with such big hitters as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, and Whitney Houston.

Among further collaborations were Love Will Remain with Clare Bowen, The One with Nina Nesbitt, The Big Goodbye with Robbie Williams, Forever And Ever, Amen, with Shania Twain and a 2020 version of When You Say Nothing At All with Alison Krauss.

Ronan Keating last played a York concert in July 2018 with Boyzone at the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

Over the past 21 years, Keating has chalked up 30 consecutive Top Ten solo singles, 11 studio albums, multiple tours and 20 million records sales, on top of 25 million sold with Boyzone, as well as judging on The X Factor and The Voice in Australia; acting in television drama and film; playing Guy in the romantic Irish hit, Once The Musical, in the West End and co-hosting Magic FM’s breakfast show.

In York, Keating last performed with Boyzone at a York Racecourse Music Showcase post-racing show on July 28 2018 on their 25th anniversary tour. His last solo appearance in the city was at York Barbican on September 21 2016. In 2019,  the dangers posed by a massive thunderstorm led to his open-air solo concert at Castle Howard, near York, on August 4 being cut short.

To check on ticket availability for January 23 2022, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

IN a second change of date, York Rocks Against Cancer is moving from July 17 this summer to January 8 2022.

All tickets remain valid for the new show; please contact your point of purchase with any questions.

Raising vital funds for York Against Cancer, the 7.30pm concert will feature The Emmerdale Band, featuring cast members from the Yorkshire soap opera; singer-songwriter Chris Helme, the former Seahorses frontman; Sister Madly and “the best musicians and singers York has to offer”. Expect a party atmosphere and a fun night.

Miriam Margolyes and Ian McMillan poem premiere to grace A Christmas RyeStream

The guests of Christmas present: Ian McMillan and Miriam Margolyes will be performing readings at A Christmas RyeStream

NATIONAL treasure Miriam Margolyes and the poetic voice of Yorkshire, Ian McMillan, will take part in A Christmas RyeStream, Ryedale Festival’s online Christmas concert.

Billed as “a unique choral gift to give this Christmas”, this free-to-view Yuletide celebration can be enjoyed at your leisure over the Christmas holiday period from tomorrow (18/12/2020) at 7.30pm at ryestream.com.

Margoyles, star of stage, screen and Malton Dickensian Festival, and Bard of Barnsley McMillan will read Christmas texts by John Betjeman, Clive Sansom, Thomas Hardy, U.A. Fanthorpe, Edwin Morgan, Clive James and regular Malton visitor Charles Dickens.

McMillan, a prodigious, often amusingly profound word-weaver and compulsive conceiver of witty Tweets, will premiere I Saw A Star, a “Christmas poem for our times”. Written expressly for the occasion, it opens: “I saw a star socially distanced from the rising moon/I heard voices softly whisper words to a freezing tune”.

“It’s a beautiful thing for Ryedale,” says Ian, whose last performance came at the Penistone Paramount, near Barnsley, on March 20 as part of Penistone Arts Week. “We filmed it last Monday at Pickering Church on a beautiful day, like when we used to go to Pickering for the Santa Special.

“Ryedale Festival said, ‘Can you write us a poem for this Christmas?’, and that set me thinking about Christmas in 2020: that we’re going to have to be distanced, when normally in times of difficulty and crisis, your usual instinct is to step forward and embrace each other.

“But it’s also a poem about next Christmas, and the distance till being able to get together again, expressing hope for next Christmas.”

McMillan has one wish for I Saw A Star: “I’d love it to be set to music, because that’s how I treated the piece as I was writing it for a music festival, making it rhythmical,” he says.

“We’re going to have to be distanced, when normally in times of difficulty and crisis, your usual instinct is to step forward and embrace each other,” says Barnsley poet Ian McMillan

To complement his own poem, McMillan will read Thomas Hardy’s The Oxen and Edwin Morgan’s The Computer’s First Christmas Card, a particular favourite of his.

Margolyes, 79, and McMillan, 64, will be joined in this virtual concert by the Ryedale Festival Consort, directed by David Clegg, with Ben Morris at the organ.

Sopranos Zoe Brookshaw and Jessica Cale, altos Elisabeth Paul and Kim Porter, tenors Jeremy Budd and Julian Gregory and basses Robert Davies and William Gaunt will intersperse the readings with popular Christmas melodies, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Truth From Above, Harold Darke’s In the Bleak Midwinter, Jamie Burton’s arrangement of Silent Night and Thomas Tallis’s Videte Miraculum.

Filmed in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Pickering, the festive concert will “bring a warm Yorkshire Christmas to homes across the country” through Ryedale Festival’s online platform, Ryestream.

Although it is free to view, donations to support the festival’s reach through its digital programme will be warmly accepted.

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, RyeStream was created to share music from beautiful Ryedale locations across the world. In July, Ryedale Festival broadcast its inaugural online festival of eight live concerts from three Ryedale venues: All Saints’ Church, Helmsley, St Michael’s Church, Coxwold, and the triple whammy of the Long Gallery, pre-Raphaelite Chapel and Great Hall at Castle Howard.

A compilation film is still available to watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWJXqtAnl6U&feature=youtu.be

In addition, Ryedale Festival is partnering with three entrepreneurial choral groups, Echo Vocal Ensemble, The Swan Consort and The Gesualdo Six, to offer its followers “a unique opportunity to give a very special Christmas present”.

12 Days Of Christmas: A musical gift from Ryedale Festival

Filmed at Castle Howard, 12 Days Of Christmas will deliver a seasonal musical offering to each recipient’s inbox each day from December 25 to January 6. Prices start at £12 for the series, which comes with the option of eco-friendly digital delivery, bringing seasonal choral music to listeners in a year where many may not have been be able to hear live singing since March.

Created as “the perfect present for music-loving friends and family wherever they may be during the festive season”, this initiative has created work for 25 young choral professionals at the end of a challenging year for the arts sector. Go to https://12-days-of-christmas.tidze.com/ for the range of gift box options.

Looking ahead, Ryedale Festival will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year.

The full programme for A Christmas Ryestream:

John Betjeman: Christmas

Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Truth From Above

Clive Sansom: The Innkeeper’s Wife

Alan Bullard: Shepherds Guarding Your Flocks

Clive James: The Crying Need For Snow

Harold Darke: In The Bleak Midwinter

Fanthorpe: BC:AD

Thomas Tallis: Videte Miraculum

Thomas Hardy: The Oxen (IM)

Richard Shephard: The Birds

Edwin Morgan: The Computer’s First Christmas Card

Arr. Jamie Burton: Silent Night

Ian McMillan: I Saw A Star, world premiere

John Gardner: Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day

Charles Dickens: from A Christmas Carol

Arr. Keith Roberts: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wish Upon A Frozen Star outdoor spectacle at Castle Howard frozen out by Covid

Cancelled: Wish Upon A Frozen Star at Castle Howard

WISH Upon A Frozen Star, this season’s illuminated Castle Howard Christmas event, has been cancelled “with great sadness”.

In response to the Government enforcing national Lockdown 2 from today until December 2, the senior team at the North Yorkshire country house has “spent a lot of time trying to find ways to make the light show event work”.

“However, the conclusion is that it is not logistically or financially viable to try to delay the get-in period and the opening of the event,” reads today’s official statement.

Wish Upon A Frozen Star would have combined a light-trail walk through the Walled Gardens, a performance of a 20-minute theatre piece by York playwright Mike Kenny, presented by Leeds children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti, and a light show projected onto the façade of the John Vanbrugh-designed late-17th century house by projection designer Ross Ashton’s company The Projection Studio, experts in delivering magical illuminated outdoor events.

When Wish Upon A Frozen Star was first announced, Ross said: “Castle Howard is a jewel of British architecture and a beautiful and inspiring place to work. I believe that this will be the largest projection mapping at any illuminated garden this year; the house alone will be covered with over eight million pixels.

“Creating the light trail and the projection in this year especially has been a challenge and we salute Castle Howard for having the vision to create something new.”

Billed as a “festive outdoor spectacle like no other”, the hour-long Christmas event would have run from November 27 to December 31, replacing the usual themed spectacular Christmas decoration tour through the house.

Playwright Mike Kenny

Castle Howard’s website says: “All bookers will be contacted by See Tickets to organise refunds and we thank you for your support and understand there will be many disappointed people.

“We are extremely disappointed ourselves not to be able to make this new magical event happen this year, but the safety of our staff, our visitors and the financial stability of the organisation have to take priority to ensure we can come back next year with another Christmas event that will once again surprise and delight our visitors.

“We’d like to say a huge thanks to our creative partners on these events, who have worked so hard alongside Castle Howard to explore every option during the past few months and particularly given the lockdown news we received at the weekend.”

What will Wish Upon A Frozen Star ticket holders now be missing? Picture the scene: Jack Frost has cast an icy spell, turning the Castle Howard Walled Gardens into a beautiful winter wonderland.

As twilight falls, you would journey through this enchanted world lit up by festive illuminations and immersive soundscapes. The only way to thaw the frosty spell and bring good cheer back in time for Christmas is to make a wish under Yorkshire’s starry skies and step out into a golden landscape of warmth, joy and wonder.

Your journey would climax with an epic story, projected as a light show by Sheffield-born Ross Ashton, who created the Northern Lights installation for York Minster in June 2018 and October 2019.

Working in tandem with audio artist and designer Karen Monid, whose layers of sounds enrich the sensory experience, he also has lit up the exterior of Buckingham Palace and Durham Cathedral and provided lighting extravaganzas for the 2012 London Olympics and the Edinburgh Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.

Tutti Frutti and writer Mike Kenny had been working with the creative lighting and sound team to bring to life the characters to be discovered as you adventure through the light trail.

The Projection Studio’s design for Wish Upon A Frozen Star on the Castle Howard facade. Picture: The Projection Studio

On your journey though Jack Frost’s frozen kingdom you would meet the live action animals who have fallen foul of the icy spell and would need you to wish for Christmas and warmth to return to their world.

The animal characters would interact with audiences on the walk through the Walled Gardens, in a socially distanced way, both keeping the flow of visitors moving and telling magical and humorous stories along the way. Olivier Award-winning Kenny was writing the live-action material to be performed by a cast of five, directed by Tutti Frutti artistic director Wendy Harris, with costumes designed by Catherine Chapman.

For the light show event, timed ticketing, limited capacity and careful management of the socially distanced visitor flow of parties of up to six to the large South Front lawn would have been the Covid-safe measures.

Mike Kenny says: “It all started with the visual idea for the big lighting show and we came on board later when Abbi [Castle Howard head of marketing Abbigail Ollive], with her theatre background, suggested adding actors and a narrative.”

He came up with a story rooted in Christmas in the shadow of Covid. “Jack Frost has frozen the gardens, so there’ll be no Christmas and Father Christmas is being kept out. Only a battle between Father Christmas and Jack Frost can resolve this.”

The conundrum faced by Mike was the need to keep the drama as well as the audience on the move, “rather than being rooted to the spot or creating a log jam”. “In the gardens, the actors would not be in touch with each other, not close enough to communicate, so the stories wouldn’t have too much narrative because it wouldn’t matter if the audience members didn’t catch everything when they were constantly on the move,” he says.

Mike would have worked further on the script in situ, discovering what would and would not have been possible, but he had settled on the story featuring animals that would have been most affected by a frozen winter.

“I learnt that in that situation, animals either migrate, hibernate or store food,” he says. “We chose animals you would find in the Castle Howard gardens, without going the full Enid Blyton on it, and we gave them human personas connected with the house.

Northern Lights at York Minster. Picture: The Projection Studio

“The Robin had the character of a steward or butler, greeting audience members as they went into the gardens. The Squirrel was the gardener; the Hedgehog, the housekeeper; the Peacock, the Lady’s maid, with a Cinderella vibe to her, dressing in her mistress’s posh clothes, and the Rabbit, the scullery maid.”

Mike does not hide his disappointment at Wish Upon A Frozen Star not going ahead. “To have pulled something out of the hat for Christmas was great, and we were all really fired up for doing a show,” he says. “The whole Covid situation has sapped the energy of the creative industries, but this Christmas event would have looked amazing.

“The Castle Howard architecture has its own theatricality, which was such a gift for us. You can tell that someone with a sense of theatre had his hand in it [playwright turned architect John Vanbrugh]!”

No-go for Wish Upon A Frozen Star, but Castle Howard is continuing to plan for both Father Christmas in the House and the Courtyard Grotto from Friday, December 4.

“We have had to cancel Father Christmas performances in the House from November 28 to December 3 due to lockdown restrictions,” the Castle Howard statement reads. “See Tickets will be in touch with bookers to offer refunds on these performances or try to get you into a later show.

“It is our sincere hope that performances from December 4 will be allowed to continue. For people who booked Father Christmas tickets in conjunction with the light show, we will be contacting you directly to refund a proportion of your ticket. 

“If you would like to cancel your Father Christmas tickets – either Enchanted Audience with Father Christmas or the Storytime with Santa Grotto – because you cannot now come to the light show, then this is fine and you will be offered a refund. Please bear with us while we work through all bookers with our partners at See Tickets.”

Wish Upon A Frozen Star may have been frozen out by the ongoing Corona crisis, but Castle Howard’s website affirms the possibility of revisiting the collaboration: “We certainly hope, and intend, to continue the partnership with The Projection Studio, Tutti Frutti and our associated production teams on future events,” it says.

More Things To Do in York/Outer Mongolia and at home, masked or unmasked, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 10

Masking for it: Dress code for the Covid age

CULTURE Secretary Oliver Dowden is on the case, he says, making plans for the gradual re-opening of theatres, comedy joints and music venues, when Covid-safe to do so, but the traffic lights are still stuck at red.

Outdoor performances were given the thumbs-up to resume from last Saturday, not so helpfully at two days’ notice, and cinemas are pencilling in a re-start from July 31, although nothing is confirmed yet. Meanwhile, assorted summer festivals are going virtual, as did this week’s Great Yorkshire Show.

This masked-up column will steer clear of the pubs, bars, restaurants and shops making their welcome comebacks, focusing instead on what’s going on…or not going on, as CHARLES HUTCHINSON reports

Violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen: RyeStream concert on July 25

RyeStream, Ryedale Festival online, July 19 to 26

THE 2020 Ryedale Festival has transmuted into RyeStream, an online festival of eight concerts, streamed straight to your home daily over the course of a week.

Musicians are making the journey to North Yorkshire to perform in three empty but beautiful locations: All Saints’ Church, Helmsley, St Michael’s Church, Coxwold, and the triple whammy of the Long Gallery, Chapel and Great Hall at Castle Howard.

Taking part will be Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano, July 19, 3pm; Rachel Podger, violin, July 20, 11am; Matthew Hunt, clarinet, and Tim Horton, piano, July 21, 1pm; Anna Hopwood, organ, July 22, 11am; Abel Selaocoe, cello, July 23, 6pm; Rowan Pierce, soprano, and Christopher Glynn, piano, July 24, 9pm; Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violin, and Christopher Glynn, piano, July 25, 3pm, and Carducci Quartet and Streetwise Opera, July 26, 6pm.

Go to ryedalefestival.com/ryestream/ for instructions on how to view. This debut online season is free, although donations are welcome.

Staithes Blue, acrylic on canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini at Blue Tree Gallery

New exhibition of the week: Giuliana Lazzerini: Solo, Blue Tree Gallery, York

BLUE Tree Gallery artist in residence Giuliana Lazzerini has opened an exhibition of new acrylic work online and at the York art-space for viewing by appointment only.

The Bootham gallery is “not fully open as yet”, but Covid-safety measures are in place, enabling viewing appointments to be made for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until August 5. To book one, send an email to bluetreegallery@hotmail.co.uk.

Giuliana’s Solo exhibition can be viewed online at bluetreegallery.co.uk/giuliana-lazzerini-solo-show-exhibi, with free postage and packaging for purchased paintings.

Owner Terry Brett outside Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, York

Gallery re-opening part two: Pyramid Gallery, York

TERRY Brett’s Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, York, has re-opened, operating a two-fold system for visitors.

You can book a 30-minute slot to browse the gallery at your leisure at pyramidgallery.com/ or, alternatively, if there is a sign up saying Please Knock To Enter, knock on the door and either Terry or Fi or Sarah will invite you in, one group at a time, and lock the door behind you.

“If the lights are not on, the shop is closed that day,” says Terry. “We will not be open on Sundays.”

Bootiful: Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman with her Tree of Life installation at Castle Howard for York Cancer Research’s Give It Some Welly fundraising campaign

Art installation of the week: Anita Bowerman’s Give Cancer The Boot, Castle Howard grounds

HARROGATE artist Anita Bowerman has designed a Tree of Life installation, Give Cancer The Boot, for Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Give It Some Welly fundraising campaign.

Hanging from a fir tree by the Atlas Fountain on the South Front, glistening in the sun like a summer variation on Christmas decorations, are 191 hand-polished stainless-steel wellies embossed with the YCR’s rose.

Why 191? They represent the 191,000 Yorkshire people who have “given the cancer the boot” over the past 25 years or live with it. To see the wellies, you will need to book a visit to Castle Howard at castlehoward.co.uk.

Oh, you are Orpheus: Storyteller Alexander Flanagan-Wright and minstrel Phil Grainger await your invitation

Outdoor theatre show of the summer: Orpheus, The Flanagan Collective/Gobbledigook Theatre

LIVE theatre is back, all over North Yorkshire, at your invitation. Step forward York theatre-makers Alexander Flanagan-Wright and Phil Grainger, who are mounting a five-pronged art attack under the banner I’ll Try And See You Sometimes.

Among their analogue enterprises is Orpheus – A Hyper Local Tour. “We’re taking Orpheus on an outdoor tour around North Yorkshire’s local lanes, villages, and towns, performing with social distancing in place and abiding by Government guidelines on how many people can meet at any one time,” says Alex.

“The shows can take place on people’s streets, at their front windows and in parks and gardens,” says Phil. “Instead of announcing a show that the public can book tickets for, we’re asking for people to pop on to flanagancollective.com and book a suitable slot and the whole show will be brought to them.”

Scarborough storyteller and artist Jan Bee Brown

Home entertainment of the week for children: A Bee and Lari the Seagull in Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH Museums Trust will present an online summer programme of seaside and animal-themed stories, crafts and activities, based around objects in the Scarborough Borough Collection, with the help of Lari the Seagull from July 22 to August 20.

On Wednesdays, from July 22 to August 19, families can enjoy Seaside Adventures, whether “meeting” rockpool creatures or magical selkies, all inspired by paintings at Scarborough Art Gallery and designed by storyteller and artist Jan Bee Brown.

On Thursdays, from July 23 to August 20, Animal Antics will take participants on a journey across the world, inspired by animals in the SMT natural history collections. 

The highlight each week will be a new audio story written by Brown, released each Wednesday.

Lockdown disco queen Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Kitchen Disco Tour next May

Seek out the good news

YORK Racecourse’s Music Showcase Weekend with Pussycat Dolls and Rick Astley is a non-runner on July 24 and 25. Les Miserables will not mount the barricades from July 22 at Leeds Grand Theatre. However, Greg and Ails McGee’s According To McGee gallery, in Tower Street, York, will be opening its doors once more from Saturday. Sophie Ellis Bextor has announced a Kitchen Disco Tour date at Leeds Town Hall on May 19 2021; Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan has re-arranged her Pocklington Arts Centre gig for a second time, now booked in for April 23 2021.

And what about…

THE Luminaires on BBC One on Sunday nights; can anyone shine a light on what’s going on with all that to and froing in time? New albums by Sparks, Margo Price and The Streets. The Reading Room café at Rowntree Park, York, re-opening.

Third time luck of the Irish: Mary Coughlan has re-arranged her Pocklington Arts Centre show…again

Artist Anita and Yorkshire Cancer Research vow to Give Cancer The Boot with Tree of Life welly installation at Castle Howard

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

BOOTIFUL. Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman has launched a wellington boot-themed art installation at Castle Howard to highlight Yorkshire Cancer Research’s annual fundraising campaign, Give it Some Welly.

The 191 stainless-steel wellies, shimmering in the sunlight in a Lime Walk tree to the side of the Atlas Fountain, represent the 191,000 Yorkshire people who have “given the cancer the boot” over the past 25 years or live with it.

The mission of the independent charity is to save lives in Yorkshire, helping people to avoid and survive the disease by improving the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the region.  

Anita’s “Tree of Life” sculpture on the South Front of the Castle Howard grounds will be open to the public until August 3, drawing attention to the charity’s aim to raise £10 million this year to “help more people give cancer the boot for good”.

In particular, Yorkshire Cancer Research is urging people across Yorkshire to hold fundraising events on Yorkshire Day, Saturday, August 1, whether by wanging wellies, wearing them or baking welly-themed cakes.

Anita, the paper-cut designer and painter who runs the Dove Tree Art Gallery and studio in Harrogate, is honoured to be involved in this “very worthwhile project”.

“I hope the piece helps people consider the work that still needs to be done to continue to increase cancer survival rates in Yorkshire,” says artist Anita Bowerman

“I felt instantly inspired to create this boot design, cut out from stainless-steel and featuring Yorkshire Cancer Research’s logo of a rose,” she says. “I love the idea of 191 shiny boots on this ‘tree of life’, glinting in the light on a fir tree in the grounds in front of the majestic, iconic Castle Howard, and I hope it brings lots of joy to those that see it. 

“I would like it to celebrate all the people in Yorkshire who have survived cancer in the past 25 years, and the people that will continue to survive in the years to come.”

The work of Yorkshire Cancer Research has resonance for Anita. “My engineer brother, Mason Small, has helped me create these 15cm-high boots – which took three men three days to polish by hand at his Guiseley head office – and finding a cure for cancer is particularly relevant to us as both our parents were diagnosed with it. Our dad had breast and skin cancer; our mum had ovarian cancer, from which she died,” she says.

“I hope the piece helps people consider the work that still needs to be done to continue to increase survival rates in Yorkshire and will help Yorkshire Cancer Research to continue its great work across the region.”

She is delighted by the choice of tree for the welly installation. “I was approached by Yorkshire Cancer Research to do a piece of ‘land art’ for the Give it Some Welly campaign, and I’m so pleased the wellies are hanging in a Cedrus Deodara, a divine tree from the Himalayas, worshipped by Hindus,” says Anita. “I love how it is now decorated for summer, with the stainless-steel boots glistening like mobiles in the summer light.

Dr Kathryn Scott, chief executive of Yorkshire Cancer Research, left, artist Anita Bowerman and the Hon Nicholas Howard, owner of Castle Howard, at the Give Cancer The Boot launch

“They look stunning in this beautiful environment, where I wanted to reflect such a high-quality house and the high quality of the work done by Yorkshire Cancer Research.”

Anita’s “Tree of Life” has personal significance too for the Hon. Nicholas Howard, owner of Castle Howard. “I have a connection with it in that I’ve had prostate cancer myself and I’m in the middle of booting it out’. I’ve had targeted radiotherapy and I’m now having hormone treatment, with my readings now being very low, so it really rang a bell with me when Yorkshire Cancer Research contacted me,” he says.

Castle Howard presents spectacular Christmas tree decorations each winter and puts up a tree at Easter too decorated with hand-painted eggs from Salzburg. Now, Anita’s summer tree complements those annual festive celebrations. “It’s always lovely to see an artist reflecting something real in their work, which these 191 boots do, and I love how the tree can be seen from afar to draw people to it because it’s glinting in the sun,” says Nicholas.

“The wellies are just the right size too, when sometimes these things can be strident, but these are lovely objects.”

Given his own experience, Nicholas is keen that the welly installation should play its part in generating much-needed funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research”. “Research is so important, and it would also help if people would get tested early; that would help with treating cancer and that’s something that everyone can do, particularly as they get older,” he says.

“It’s so important that regular testing and inspections go on, and it’s so important to get that message across, especially when men sometimes have that macho attitude that it won’t happen to them, but it’s far better to be tested regularly. They do that with a car, so why not with themselves?”

“Too many people are still having their lives cut short by cancer,” says Dr Kathryn Scott, pictured with artist Anita Bowerman

Also attending the launch was Dr Kathryn Scott, chief executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, who says: “While it’s positive that survival rates are improving, too many people are still having their lives cut short by cancer. Delays in diagnosis and treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic means we need to do all we can to minimise the impact for people in Yorkshire.

“In the past few months, life has come with increasing challenges and apprehension about what the future might hold, so the continued support of people in Yorkshire means more to us than ever before.

“With our ambitious target to fund £10 million of world-leading research to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer every year, we need the people of Yorkshire to join us in raising life-changing funds, so we can continue our work in helping more people give cancer the boot for good.”

Kathryn says that in these Covid-19 times, delays in diagnosis and treatment of cancer are inevitable. “There will be people with worrying signs that will not have contacted their GP at this time, but early diagnosis is always our message, because cancer is predominantly easier to treat, the earlier the diagnosis,” she stresses.

“We can have a 90 per cent success rate with treating some cancers when diagnosed early, but less than ten per cent when it’s diagnosed late on.”

Yorkshire Cancer Research wants to fund more research and more clinical trials. “They’re shown to give people a better quality of life and improve survival rates, and we want to make Yorkshire a beacon of success in treating cancer,” says Kathryn.

Shining example: A close-up of the Yorkshire Cancer Research rose on one of Anita Bowerman’s 191 wellies

“In clinical trials, we’re rising fast in the national statistics: 9,000 people participated in clinical trials last year funded by Yorkshire and Humber clinical research networks, putting us second on the list.”

To support Give It Some Welly, you can download a free fundraising pack at: ycr.org.uk/welly.

Yorkshire Cancer Research and Castle Howard request you follow UK Government guidelines to stay safe when visiting the installation or organising any fundraising activities. Those guidelines can be found at: gov.uk/coronavirus.

Did you know?

Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England.

In Yorkshire, 594 people are diagnosed with cancer every week.

Yorkshire Cancer Research’s mission is for 2,000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Cancer Research works in partnership with researchers, clinicians, the NHS, public health bodies and other charities to fund innovative work in prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

Based at Grove Park Court, off Skipton Road, Harrogate, Yorkshire Cancer Research provides research funding for the University of York, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield and Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.

For more information, visit yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk.

Castle Howard grounds and gardens to reopen with new safety measures

Blue sky, thinking of returning: Castle Howard’s grounds and gardens are reopening from June 1

THE Castle Howard gardens and grounds, near York, will reopen from next week with new health and safety measures in place in these continuing Covid-19 times.

Castle Howard members will be able to visit from Wednesday, June 3, and then all visitors, from Monday, June 8.

All visitors will be required to pre-book tickets online via the Castle Howard website, for capacity management purposes, and will then self-scan at the ticket office to enable contactless entry to the gardens. 

New safety measures have been put in place to reflect the Government’s social-distancing guidelines and full information can be found on the Castle Howard website.

In the first weeks of opening, the focus will be on allowing visitors back into the gardens with limited facilities. Reopening of outlets will be reintroduced over the coming weeks when the necessary systems and risk assessments are in place and team members are trained up to operate each outlet safely.

Access to the gardens will exclude the playground at this stage, but will include takeaway catering outlets, and the farm shop and garden centre remain open daily. 

Abbigail Ollive, head of marketing and sales, says: “The team at Castle Howard have been working hard behind the scenes to put our reopening plans into action and we are delighted that we’ll be welcoming back members and visitors over the next couple of weeks.

“The safety of our employees and our visitors is paramount, so we’d advise anyone planning to visit to read the guidelines on our website and pre-book a ticket online. The world might have changed significantly, but the stunning Yorkshire landscape and open spaces that we can offer at Caste Howard have not changed and we know how pleased visitors will be to have access once again to the gardens.” 

Castle Howard reopening dates and times:

For the first five days of re-opening, from June 3 to 7, Castle Howard will open the gardens only for Friends/Members between 10am and 5pm. 

From June 8, daily opening hours for all visitors will be 10am to 5pm; the gardens will close at 6pm.

From June 15, Castle Howard will offer Members-only entry hours from 9am to 10am and from 5pm to 6pm. The gardens will close at 7pm. 

Booking for the general public will go live on Tuesday, June 2. To book, visit castlehoward.co.uk.

Go compare! 2021 bill for Castle Howard’s music weekend will be exactly the same as 2020 postponed shows, Wynne Evans et al

Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, from the Go Compare adverts, performing at The Proms Spectacular at Castle Howard last summer. Picture: Charlotte Graham

CASTLE Howard is postponing this summer’s live music weekend until 2021.

Running from August 21 to 23, the 2020 bill would have comprised the al fresco Proms Spectacular with Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, Café Mambo Live and Queen Symphonic.

“The summer spectacular weekend was set to draw audiences from all over the country to enjoy a varied programme of music, from Land Of Hope And Glory to Ibiza chill to Bohemian Rhapsody,” today’s official statement says. “Now the whole weekend will be picked up and placed on the equivalent weekend next August.”

The North Yorkshire country house management team and event partners LPH Concerts have taken the decision after “much deliberation and careful consideration of the advice from the British government around the Coronavirus pandemic” and its prohibitive social-distancing measures.

The Hon Nicholas Howard, of Castle Howard, near York, says: “It is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel any events, particularly outdoor concerts for which people plan ahead for many months, but it is absolutely the right thing to do in current circumstances – the safety of our visitors and staff is paramount.

No fireworks at Castle Howard this summer after the postponement of the August live music weekend. Picture: Charlotte Graham

“The artists due to perform share our disappointment but have all agreed to come back next summer to delight the Yorkshire audiences at Castle Howard’s natural amphitheatre. Something to look forward to, if a little further into the future.”

LPH Concerts say: “While lockdown measures are being slowly lifted across the UK, it is with sadness that we are announcing these postponements. In the background, we have been studying guidance and taking advice from the industry safety professionals.


“As independent event producers, we have a passion for the music and events we produce, however the most important factor is you, our loyal customers. Many of you over the years have become friends and supporters and as such your safety and enjoyment of our events is our priority.

“We also have a loyal, hardworking team and suppliers to safeguard too and therefore we have made the difficult decision to postpone until 2021.

“The good news is that the artistes, Castle Howard and our suppliers are fully behind us and…we’ll be back with a heightened spring in our production for you all to enjoy. Stay safe and we hope we will see you before too long.”

All ticket holders will be receiving an email shortly from their point of purchase with further information.

Castle Howard and its grounds remain closed to the public, with the team closely following government advice so that it can reopen promptly with appropriate safety measures in place once lockdown is lifted.

We’re expecting the gardens and grounds to be first to open, as exploring the outdoors and getting lots of fresh air appears to be very much in line with recommendations for safe things to do,” says Nicholas Howard.

“We’ll continue to monitor when and how we might be able to re-open the house in due course. In the meantime, our farm shop continues to provide locals with fresh fruit, vegetables and butchery staples, while the garden centre has now also re-opened with social-distancing measures in place, so those staying at home can give their green spaces a bit of a boost.

“We would like to thank you all for your patience and support during these difficult times.”

For more information on the farm shop and garden centre, or to keep up to date with the latest Castle Howard news, stay alert at castlehoward.co.uk.