‘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

Winter arrives at According To McGee as David Baumforth opens seascape show

According To McGee co-director Ails McGee and York-born artist David Baumforth assemble his Winter collection in readiness for Saturday’s opening

ACCORDING To McGee, in York, reopens on Saturday with the salty rush of David Baumforth’s new Winter seascapes.

A regular breath of seaside air at the Tower Street gallery, Baumforth’s work depicts the places he loves: the North, its coastline and hinterland.

After handing over the front gallery to York cityscape artist Richard Barnes for Lockdown: The Sequel’s innovative Window Shopping Exhibition, this forthcoming weekend is a tribute to fellow gallery favourite Baumforth, the York-born son of a turner and fitter at British Rail and a packer at Terry’s chocolate factory.

In a long career where he has won the Not The Turner Art Prize, exhibited at London’s Royal Watercolour Society Opens and Royal Academy Summer Shows and received the acclaim of TV art critic Sister Wendy, Baumforth once more embraces his Yorkshire coast and moorland muse for Winter in the latest burst of creativity from his Snainton studio near Scarborough.

“This collection is indicative of a painter who, far from resting on his laurels, continues to blossom,” says Ails McGee of David Baumforth’s new Winter works

Gallery co-director Ails McGee is delighted to see Baumforth retain his title as the “Turner of the North”. “This collection is indicative of a painter who, far from resting on his laurels, continues to blossom. The marks are fierce, even as he captures the last rays of light on winter trees,” she says.

“Most graduates we work with have admitted that they would give their left arm to paint like David Baumforth, which is vindication enough. The pre-exhibition sales that are coming in are also a welcome seal of approval.”

David, now 78, says: “It feels right to be exhibiting in a solo show in York at this stage of my career. My style may have slightly changed, but I’m not interested in gimmicks. The Yorkshire moors and its coastline are a constant source of inspiration for me. I’m happy with my work, so I feel no need for change.

Wintry blast: One of David Baumforth’s new works, capturing the season’s fade to grey

“I’d rather exhibit them in According To McGee than anywhere else as they have a good feeling for good paintings and have done so for some time.”

Ails points to the modern energy of Baumforth’s Winter depictions. “There’s something crucial, like he has something to prove,” she says. “He has always had a reputation of being irascible, but all that has mellowed out now, and whatever bristling, visionary impatience he had is now manifest in his paintings. It is painting that has brought him this far and we are at a fascinating juncture in his career.”

Ails is alluding to 2021’s landmark summer event: David Baumforth: The Final Exhibition. “David is working towards a collection that is in essence a victory lap for a painter who has redefined what it is to depict York and Yorkshire,” she reveals.

“The marks are fierce, even as Baumforth captures the last rays of light on winter trees,” says Ails McGee

“This Winter collection is a forerunner of that, and what we have here available for purchase reveals some very interesting directions David is going in. He has complete control over his vision and style and his work is simply becoming more desirable because of that.”

Co-director Greg McGee is fully recharged for Saturday’s bracing reopening. “2020 has been a turbulent year. Though we have been forced to close our doors in the two lockdowns, our clients have remained loyal and have either contacted us after peeking through our front window or have made purchases through our site.

“That aspect has been fine but, ultimately, we are a contemporary gallery and you can’t beat the energy of opening the door and allowing browsers to enjoy the new collections from excellent artists. That’s why Saturday is so important to us.”

David Baumforth: Winter runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from Saturday, 12 noon to 5pm, daily until Christmas. The gallery also is open by appointment on 01904 671709.

“I’d rather exhibit them in According To McGee than anywhere else as they have a good feeling for good paintings,” says David Baumforth as he delivers the chill of Winter to the York gallery