Gerard Hobson Printmaker, the new York art shop that Lockdown 2 forced to close after only one day, will reopen tomorrow

Hare today, back tomorrow, when Gerard Hobson Printmaker, in Lord Mayor’s Walk, York will reopen

AFTER opening his new shop for one day only before Lockdown 2 clocked on, York wildlife artist Gerard Hobson is looking forward to re-opening for rather longer from tomorrow (2/12/2020).

Gerard Hobson Printmaker had taken up residence in the old Bulmers building just beyond the corner where Monk Bar turns into Lord Mayor’s Walk, but he was rudely interrupted by Lockdown’s killjoy claw tapping on his shoulder.

The lights illuminating his lampshades have remained on, however: a window-shopping beacon to the boxing hares in this former zoologist’s beautifully decorated window display and the walls beyond with their abundant bursts of wildlife and fauna in myriad forms: prints; cut-outs; mugs; tea towels; cushions; cards and more.

“Now I’m looking at opening from 10.30am to 4pm, Wednesdays through to Saturdays (closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays), with late-night opening until 7.30pm on Thursdays,” says linocut artist Gerard. “If things get really busy, I might open on Mondays and Tuesdays in the run-up to Christmas.”

Online sales and a click-and-collect service on Saturdays have been the order of the day in Lockdown 2. “I’ve been very busy with online orders, which has been great but requires quite a lot of organisational skills, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting people face to face and them buying in-store,” says Gerard, whose Clifton home studio will feature once again in York Open Studios next spring.

“Everything for sale in the new shop has my designs on it. Limited-edition hand-coloured prints; bird, animal, tree and mushroom cut-outs; cards; mugs; cushions; coasters; chopping boards; lampshades; tea towels; notepads and wrapping paper.

“There are even some handmade candles made locally. I didn’t make them but I did the logo on the box. Something for everyone, I hope.”

Shop ‘closes’ after only one day, but Gerard Hobson’s choice is to keep the animal magic coming. Here’s how…

Gerard Hobson’s choice of shop-window dressing at the old Bulmers building in Lord Mayor’s Walk, York

QUESTION. Which York shop opened on a Wednesday, only to close the very next day, but could yet run for a year?

The answer is Gerard Hobson Printmaker, in the old Bulmers building just beyond the corner where Monk Bar turns into Lord Mayor’s Walk.

Linocut artist Gerard was rudely interrupted by Lockdown 2’s killjoy claw tapping on his shoulder, but the lights illuminating his lampshades are still on: a beacon to the boxing hares in this former zoologist’s beautifully decorated window display and the walls beyond with their abundant bursts of wildlife and nature in myriad forms: prints; cut-outs; mugs; tea towels; cushions; cards and more.

“Having planned to open on November 4, before the new measures were then announced, I had to put all my efforts into opening for one day before lockdown,” says Gerard, a regular participant in York Open Studios at his Clifton home studio.

“Over the next month, I’m using the shop [frontage] as a means of getting myself known to a wider audience in York and continuing to sell my art and products online.

Cut-outs by printmaker Gerard Hobson on show at his new shop in York

“We’re operating a click-and-collect service where people can email me with enquiries or orders and they can either pick up from the shop on a certain day – probably Saturdays – or we’re doing free deliveries on orders over £15 in a ten-mile radius from York.”

Bringing the outdoors inside, Gerard’s work is full of joy: a joyfulness that permeates his decision to go ahead with his shop launch. “Although the timing in these matters was not perfect, I decided to open a shop in York against the tide of shop closures,” he says.

“I had a fantastic day on the Wednesday opening and am very positive about what this next month might bring.”

So much so that in the city with the highest net loss of chain-stores outlets in the UK in the first half of 2020 (55 in total), Gerard ponders: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if empty shops could be used by independent businesses for this period up to Christmas to run their businesses out of.

“York could become alive with shop-window displays offering click and collect or home deliveries.”

Gerard Hobson at work in his studio in Clifton, York

Here Gerard Hobson answers Charles Hutchinson’s questions on opening shops in Covid times, window shopping, York’s city-centre future and his plans for 2021.

What prompted your decision to go against the tide by opening a shop at this difficult time, Gerard?

“York is a very small place and I happen to know the landlord of the old Bulmers building. He hadn’t any plans for the shops and asked me if I would like to use one of them to sell my art for a couple of months leading up to Christmas; with the idea that if it was a success, I could continue the lease into the new year.

“I had never thought of opening a shop before but thought it seemed like a great opportunity; especially with lots of shops closing in York, I thought I would buck the trend.” 

How did you go about designing the shop and how does it contrast with your Open Studios and Christmas shows at your home and on a grand scale in the gallery, grounds and gardens of Beningbrough Hall earlier this year?

A stack of cards designed by Gerard Hobson on display at his shop

“When I first looked at the shop, a lot of work still needed doing to it. It hadn’t even got a floor. I liked the fact the back wall was just breeze blocks, which gave it a more industrial feel, which would work well as my work space. I didn’t want it to feel too polished or formal.

“I measured it up and then sourced pre-loved pieces of furniture in and around York. The exception was the shop counter. I know a chap who sells large slabs of wood, so I bought a piece of elm from him and made the counter base out of a large pallet.

“As an artist, it’s fantastic when someone says you can do what you like with the space – the perfect blank canvas!”

What did your learn from mounting the Winter Wildlife In Print exhibition at Beningbrough Hall? Was it a perfect union of location, theme and artform? Discuss...

Gerard Hobson with one of his installations at Beninbrough Hall, near York

“Working at Beningbrough was a huge learning curve for me. The National Trust were amazing at allowing me free rein to use the grounds as I wished to install the exhibition.

“There are times when you really doubt what you are doing and think the whole thing just isn’t going to work. So, it’s a huge relief when it eventually comes together and all the risks are worth it!” 

You have been stoical about the Lockdown fates playing their hand. How will the shop operate through lockdown? 

“The announcement of the second lockdown was quite sudden but opening for just one day was great. Lots of my regular customers and friends dropped in on the day and it went much better than I had anticipated.

“This year has been so uncertain, especially for the arts, so I didn’t get down about it closing. I thought, ‘I have this shop window; what a great opportunity to advertise my art’, so I’ve put a notice in the window to allow people to window shop and buy through my website.”

On the case: Assorted items by Gerard Hobson for sale via click and collect at his York shop

How long into the new year do you envisage running the shop? Is it a pop-up shop or might it turn into a longer-term enterprise?

“My brother-in-law, Robert Feather, had a jewellery shop on Gillygate for many years, so he’s been very helpful in giving advice. My plans are to run the shop for a year so that I can look at the bigger picture and work out the ebbs and flows of retail (of which I’m sure there are many!).” 

How would you improve the city-centre streets of York?

“I find on the whole that York’s city centre has become a very sad shopping experience. When you go to other European countries, their towns and cities are full of interesting and diverse independent shops. Yet York has such great potential.

“Wouldn’t it be great to see lots of small independent shops, rather than lots of empty ones? It seems such a shame that high rental prices and business rates stop small businesses from setting up.”

Hare today, but thankfully not gone tomorrow, even though Lockdown 2 forced Gerard Hobson to close his shop after only one day

What’s coming up for you in 2021?

“2021 looks like it could be a very exciting year for me. As well as running the shop, I’ll be taking part in York Open Studios in April, which is always an exciting event to be part of.

“I’m running a couple of linocut courses at the RHS Harlow Carr gardens in Harrogate, as well as several classes throughout the year from my house.

“I’ll be working on more indoor installations and artworks for Little Green Rascals Organic Day Nurseries in York. I’ve known the owner, Vanessa [Warn], for many years and we share the same passion that a child’s space, where they learn and grow, should be nurturing and have a homely feel about it.”

Dressing the dresser: Gerard Hobson displays more of his wildlife wonders

Busy, busy! Anything else?!

“I’m also planning an exhibition at York Hospital.”

And finally, putting on your salesman’s hat, sum up what can be bought from the shop…

“Everything for sale in the shop has my designs on it. Limited-edition hand-coloured prints; bird, animal, tree and mushroom cut-outs; cards; mugs; cushions; coasters; chopping boards;  lampshades; tea towels; notepads and wrapping paper.

“There are even some handmade candles made locally. I didn’t make them but I did the logo on the box. Something for everyone, I hope.”

No York Open Studios this weekend, but all that art still needs a new home, so look here…DAY 21

Autumn Birds, by Gerard Hobson

TODAY should have been spent visiting other people’s homes, not staying home. Next weekend too.

This is not a cabin-fevered call for a foolhardy Trumpian dropping of the guard on Covid-19, but a forlorn wish that York Open Studios 2020 could have been just that: York Open Studios. Instead, this weekend and next weekend will be York Shut Studios.

Nevertheless, in the absence of the opportunity to meet 144 artists at 100 locations, banished by the  Coronavirus lockdown, CharlesHutchPress is determinedly championing the creativity of York’s artists and makers, who would have been showcasing their ceramics, collage, digital, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, sculpture and textiles skills.

Each day, in brochure order, five artists who now miss out on the exposure of Open Studios are being given a pen portrait on these pages, because so much art and craft will have been created for the event and still needs a new home. Home and studio addresses will not be included at this time.

Meanwhile, York Open Studios artists are finding their own way to respond to the shutdown by filling their windows with their work instead. Look for #openwindowsyork2020 to locate them. “If you see one in your area while taking your daily exercise, take a picture and let us know,” they say.

Furthermore, look out for plenty of the 144 artists still showcasing their work over the York Open Studios period online. Holtby studio painter Kate Pettitt, for example, is penning a daily blog at facebook.com/katepettittartist/. “Visit the YOS website and take your own virtual tour at yorkopenstudios.co.uk,” she advises.

Good advice! The website says: “We’re doing a Virtual Open Studio, with artists posting based on a daily theme for the ten days spanning our two weekends. They’ll be showing you their studios and workshops, favourite processes, answering your questions, and of course lots of pictures of their new work!

“Search for #YorkOpenStudios anywhere on social media or follow your favourite artists to see more.”

First, however, here are five more artists and makers for you to discover…

Harriet McKenzie: Artist and foster carer

Harriet McKenzie, ceramics

HARRIET’S 2020 mission is to “examine drawing in the interface between the two- dimensional picture plane and the three-dimensional object”.

To do so, she creates ceramic Circles: enclosed forms, in black clay with engobe and sgraffito painting.

Her Circles reflect how relationships, interplay and suggestion are the bedrock of her art practice in her home studio. Harriet, or Hatti as she is known, is both an artist and a foster carer, a role that fundamentally informs her work as “a multifaceted influence revealed over time,” she says.

Harriet graduated with First Class honours from her Bradford School of Art fine art degree in 2007, first participating in York Open Studios in 2008 and she has since done so in 2009, 2011 and 2015 to 2018, when she was a bursary award winner.

Rounded up: A selection of Harriet McKenzie’s Circles

Her formal art education had a gap of 20 years as, first, she took time out to travel and live in America, before making a home and raising her daughter in York.

“I found it impossible to do both art and earn a living as a single parent,” she says candidly. “With my art, I got so focused and involved with each project, my poor daughter suffered, but with age comes a better balance.

“Now, I only do work to show in galleries or Open Studios once a year, as this can fit round my sometimes challenging life as a foster carer.” Seek out Harriet’s work at hattimckenzie.com. 

Harriette Rymer at work

Harriette Rymer, painting

HARRIETTE creates abstract paintings, vibrant and playful in character, often featuring a geometric context, that she presents as original wall art panels, digital artworks and installations.

“By employing a range of mediums, I explore conflicting and harmonious relationships within colour and texture,” she says.

Harriette first studied art and design at Leeds College of Art in 2013, later taking a science degree in Newcastle. After graduating, Harriette returned to her artistic passion and now combines her love for precision with design in her paintings, screen-prints and cards (where she uses block-printing and stamping techniques).

Energy, by Harriet Rymer

Her fascination with colour manifests itself throughout her vivid work, curated under such collections as Confetti Collection, Hues, Colour Overlays, Milieu, Pattern Postcards and Expanse.

“I want the viewer to make personal connections with each composition, just as I have, whether it’s a reminder of a place they know well or a visualisation of a memory, thought or feeling,” says Harriette, who uses acrylic, gouache, watercolours and pastels.

This year she has exhibited in the York Printmakers show at Pairings wine bar, Castlegate, York, and in A First Glimpse at the Inspired By…Gallery, Danby, and she would have done so too at this month’s cancelled British Craft Trade Fair, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

Take a look at harrietterymer.com.

“I’m an instinctive painter,” says Steve Williams

Steve Williams, painting

STEVE’S strikingly vibrant and original paintings in acrylics are inspired mainly by North Yorkshire’s landscapes and coastline.

“I’m an instinctive painter,” he says. “My pictures take form through the process of painting, not through adherence to a fully formulated plan. Exploring my emotive response to my subject matter, I allow my paintings to develop as a result of my mood or subconscious mindset. They stem from an original idea, image or situation and then come together of their own accord.”

Whitby At Night, by Steve Williams

Using acrylics, palette knives and brushes, Steve seeks to infuse his pictures with fluidity, energy, colour and texture. “My aim is to achieve a balance, a cohesion, harmony and completeness, in all of my pictures,” he says.

“I work spontaneously to convey my emotional energy into a painting. I believe this is the only way to ensure authenticity.”

Steve exhibits regularly with contemporary galleries throughout Yorkshire, in London and further afield. Commissions are welcomed via stevewilliamsart.moonfruit.com.

“My inspiration comes from nature’s wonders,” says Sam Jones

Sam Jones, jewellery

SAM is self-taught in the art of lampworking, otherwise known as glass-bead making.

She works with various materials, such as glass rods, clear resin and metals, making her own glass beads and combining these with silver, copper and semi-precious stones in her jewellery since 2006.

She graduated with a degree in jewellery from Sheffield Hallam University in 2000 and works within the creative industries as a scenic painter. “I’m drawn to colour, pattern and texture,” she says. “I enjoy experimenting with processes and like working with various materials as I find each has its own qualities.

Handmade glass-beads necklace, by Sam Jones

“My inspiration comes from nature’s wonders, from the nebulas within our galaxies, to the weird and wonderful inhabitants of our oceans.”

Should the non-scientific among you be wondering, a nebula is a giant interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionised gases.

Some nebulae (the Latin plural) come from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star, such as a supernova. Other nebulae are “star nurseries”: regions where new stars are beginning to form. Science home-schooling lesson of the day, at your service.

Discover more at samjonesjewellery.com.

Gerard Hobson with his wren installation beneath the Clock Tower at Beningbrough Hall, near York. Picture: Sue Jordan

Gerard Hobson, printmaking

GERARD has had a love of birds, animals and art since childhood, a wildlife bent that saw him qualify as a zoologist from Bangor University and work for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as a botanist and illustrator.

On relocating to the north, he worked for Yorkshire Wildlife while continuing to develop his own work on a freelance basis, turning his hand to woodcarving and studying print-making in York.

Gerard now works from his garden studio in Clifton, producing limited-edition hand-coloured linocut prints of birds and animals, much of his work being inspired while out walking his dog on the Clifton Ings.

His repertoire has expanded to take in cushions and lampshades, mugs and chopping boards, produced in tandem with Georgia Wilkinson Designs, and cut-outs of birds, animals, fish and mushrooms.

Leaping Hare, by Gerard Hobson

Gerard branched out still further earlier this year for his Winter Wildlife In Print show at the National Trust property of Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, near York, where he combined multiple prints in the Hayloft gallery with 14 sculptural scenes/installations in the outbuildings, gardens, grounds and parkland, inspired by creatures that make Beningbrough their winter home.

“I hope my art may stir people to become more interested in the wildlife around them, to feed the birds and join their local wildlife trust,” he says. “To share this with their children and their children’s children, and hopefully generations of young people will become more interested in the birds and woodlands around them. Maybe some will go on to be environmental campaigners – who knows!”

More info at gerardhobson.com.

TOMORROW: Lesley Birch; Frances G Brock; Maria Keki; Beccy Ridsdel and Dawn Ridsdel.

York artist Gerard Hobson enjoys winter walk on the wild side at Beningbrough Hall. UPDATED

York artist Gerard Hobson with his wren installation beneath the Clock Tower at Beningbrough Hall, near York. Pictures: Sue Jordan

YORK linocut artist Gerard Hobson is exhibiting for the first time at Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, near York.

His Winter Wildlife In Print show at the National Trust property combines prints for sale in the Hayloft gallery with 14 sculptural scenes in the outbuildings, gardens, grounds and parkland, inspired by creatures that make Beningbrough their winter home.

Throughout winter until March 1, they can be seen only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11am to 3.30pm, and additionally during the February half term.

Hedgehog in winter, by Gerard Hobson,

Created out of linoprints, cut out and mounted to make Hobson’s 3D installations, birds are swooping, climbing or nesting among the trees, from owls and robins to cuckoos, wrens and swifts.

Eyes should be kept peeled for the naughty magpies with their stolen ring. Do look out, too, beyond the ha-ha to the parkland to spot a pair of boxing hares, better seen close-up should anyone be carrying binoculars.

Bang goes the common knowledge, by the way, that boxing hares are a brace of males scrapping over a female. Apparently, as a sign reveals, the fights involve a male and a female, not welcoming his persistent attention. Who knew, the lady hares are effectively saying “Do one” or “Get yourself a better chat-up line”!

Hare, by Gerard Hobson, one of the linoprints in the Hayloft gallery at Beningbrough Hall

These outdoor installations are the first time Gerard Hobson has used his work in this way, and in creating the exhibition, he has made many new pieces especially for the Beningbrough garden.

Not only birds, but other animals too make an appearance in unexpected places, searching for food and preparing to hibernate or sleep, whether bats, mice, stoats or a hedgehog.

Make sure to head upstairs in the stables to the Hayloft for an indoor exhibition showcasing more of Gerard’s printed work, all for sale. Visitors also can create a feeder in the bothy and pick up one of the special colouring-in sheets in the walled garden restaurant, while in the laurel den a dawn chorus soundscape is a reminder of warmer days to come.

Here Charles Hutchinson puts the questions on the art of the matter to artist Gerard Hobson.

You have a background as a zoologist and botanist. What draws you to depicting nature and wildlife, Gerard?

“One of my earliest recollections was collecting a set of bird cards given away with PG Tips tea (I would love to do a set for Yorkshire Tea).

“This moved on to sets of animals both native and around the world, which then grew into a love of nature.

A bird collage by Gerard Hobson

“At the age of about 16, I had a ten-minute chat with a careers adviser, who asked me what my interests were. I said ‘nature and art’ and he said ‘there’s no money in art, go down the science route’, hence the zoology.

“My first job after graduating was with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and this is where my knowledge of plants developed.” 

In this age of climate change concern and the extinction of creatures, your art can make a powerful statement …but at the same time, in the short film shown in the Beningbrough Hall bothy, you talk of your art being fun. Discuss…

“People who buy my prints tell me they’re bright and cheerful and have a sense of fun about them. I’m pleased they get that response but I also hope that my images might create a greater interest in wildlife.

“I think most people are aware of the loss of habitat and species and the impact of global warming on our environment, but people feel the problem is so great that their small contribution isn’t going to make any difference.

“I hope my art may stir people to become more interested in the wildlife around them, to feed the birds and join their local wildlife trust. To share this with their children and their children’s children and hopefully generations of young people will become more interested in the birds and woodlands around them. Maybe some will go on to be environmental campaigners – who knows!”

Gerard Hobson at work in his York studio

Your past work often has been of individual creatures. How did you come up with the idea of doing installations and sculptural scenes for the Beningbrough exhibition?

“When I was asked to do an exhibition at Beningbrough, they told me they wanted me to do something outdoors but they wanted me to use my linocuts. However, I knew this was going to create several problems.

“Life-size birds outside would just disappear into the great outdoors, so I had to do everything twice its normal size.

“I wanted the work to be original because somehow, once you reproduce art, it seems to lose its essence, but trying to make my paper linocuts waterproof also proved challenging.

“I felt each installation needed some sort of narrative.  So, my vision for the exhibition was not just about the art but for each one to be linked with some related fact or folklore.”

How does the impact of a group of birds/hibernating animals/etc contrast with those past works?

“I think the outdoor display at Beningbrough challenged me artistically as I have never done an outside exhibition before and I wanted to come up with something a little bit different and quirky: a seek and find concept.

Pheasant, one of the linoprints by Gerard Hobson, at Beningbrough Hall’s Hayloft gallery

“As an artist you are looking at ways to develop, but not lose your style. Before the offer at Beningbrough came about, I’d been considering doing some framed images of my linocuts in naturalistic settings using fake plants, branches, mosses etc.

“When I was about 12, I started collecting taxidermy and had quite a large collection, but over the years it has become less fashionable. However, taxidermy still interests me as an art form, hence the thought of putting my linocuts in cases.”

What influence did the Beningbrough Hall outbuildings and grounds have on your work. Furthermore, did the task of creating work for the outdoors present different challenges?

“When I was asked to do the exhibition, the brief was very broad and they basically gave me carte blanche on the spaces around the grounds, which was fantastic!

“I obviously wanted to do something that was on a circuit so I  around a few times, identifying my favourite trees and possible places to put things.

“Many of the themes for the installations came from the spaces themselves. The stumpery led to the creation of a group of mushrooms and the tool shed looked like a good setting to put animals and birds for sheltering away from the cold winter weather.”

A close-up of the wrens, one of 14 sculptural scenes by Gerard Hobson at Beningbrough Hall this winter

What impact did the winter season have on the work?

“The winter weather has created a few problems. When we were installing the exhibition, it seemed to be constantly raining, which made the installation a very cold and wet experience!

“Once the exhibition was up, we had a couple of weeks where various pieces were coming away from their metal dowel. (I’m not sure if it was the persistent rain or the wrong sort of glue being used.)

“Added to which, very high winds brought down the swallow installation twice and the boxing hares were blown over. There has also been a problem with the thrush installation being attacked by what we think is the resident jackdaw population! “However, through it all, the gardeners and volunteers at Beningbrough have been fantastic at helping put things right.”

What will happen to the installation pieces after the exhibition ends on March 1?

“Good question, no idea. Some of the pieces have weathered, which gives them a look of an old loved toy. I don’t think they’ll last outdoors permanently. I’m open to suggestions.”

Bird And Mistletoe, a winter linoprint by Gerard Hobson

What do you like most about linocuts as an artform?

“I went on a printmaking course at York College about ten years ago and I was particularly taken with producing linocuts.

“Carving away on lino has a very therapeutic feel to it, and it was through this medium that I developed my own style. Prior to this, I’d been quite good at art technically, but didn’t have a particular look to my art, so this technique seemed to release me into something I’d been trying to do for years.

“When you produce a piece of art, you can feel quite attached to it, and it can be quite difficult to part with. With a linocut, because it’s one of a limited edition, you can always hold one back for yourself or a loved one.” 

What are you working on next? York Open Studios 2020 on April 18, 19, 25 and 26, perhaps?

“My exhibition in the Hayloft gallery at Beningbrough is running until the beginning of March, with the sales from this keeping me quite busy at the moment, and I want to keep refreshing this part of the show, so that returning visitors get to see something a little different each time.

“Also, I need to crack on with some new work for York Open Studios, which I’m very excited about this April.” 

Gerard Hobson’s Winter Wildlife In Print exhibition and installations are on show at Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, near York, until March 1. To plan a visit, go to nationaltrust.org.uk/beningbrough for more information.

Hare leap: one of Gerard Hobson’s linocut prints at Beningbrough Hall

Did you know?

SINCE childhood, Gerard Hobson has had a love for birds, animals and art. His fascination with wildlife saw him qualify as a zoologist from Bangor University in 1984 and he then worked for a couple of years for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as a botanist. Later he became an illustrator for the trust, working on leaflets and sign boards.

After relocating up north, Gerard worked for Yorkshire Wildlife and continued to develop his work on a freelance basis. In more recent years, he has turned his hand to woodcarving and these days focuses his attentions on print making, having studied the art form in York. 

York artist Gerard Hobson turns Beningbrough Hall into a winter wildlife wonderland

York artist Gerard Hobson with his wren installation beneath the Clock Tower at Beningbrough Hall, near York. Picture: Sue Jordan

YORK artist Gerard Hobson will hold the first of three print-making workshops in the Hayloft gallery at Beningbrough Hall, Beningbrough, near York, on Saturday to tie in with his Winter Wildlife In Print exhibition and installations at the National Trust property.

Alas all three 10am sessions – using Beningbrough’s garden for inspiration – are fully booked: the first two, this weekend and on February 8, focusing on linoprint making; the third, on February 22, being a family printmaking session.

Hare, by Gerard Hobson, one of the linoprints in the Hayloft gallery at Beningbrough Hall

Hobson’s Hayloft print exhibition and 14 sculptural scenes in the outbuildings, gardens, grounds and parkland are inspired by creatures that make Beningbrough their winter home.

Throughout winter until March 1, they can be seen only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11am to 3.30pm, and additionally during the February half term. To plan a visit, go to nationaltrust.org.uk/beningbrough for more information.

A bird collage by Gerard Hobson

Created out of linoprints, cut out and mounted to make Hobson’s 3D installations, birds are swooping, climbing or nesting among the trees, from owls and robins to cuckoos, wrens and swifts.

Eyes should be kept peeled for the naughty magpies with their stolen ring. Do look out, too, beyond the ha-ha to the parkland to spot a pair of boxing hares, better seen close-up should anyone be carrying binoculars.

Gerard Hobson at work in his York studio

Bang goes the common knowledge, by the way, that boxing hares are a brace of males scrapping over a female. Apparently, as a sign reveals, the fights involve a male and a female, not welcoming his persistent attention. Who knew, the lady hares are effectively saying “Do one” or “Get yourself a better chat-up line”!

These installations are the first time Gerard Hobson has used his work in this way, and in creating the exhibition, he has made many new pieces especially for the Beningbrough garden. Not only birds, but other animals too make an appearance in unexpected places, searching for food and preparing to hibernate or sleep, whether bats, mice, stoats or a hedgehog.

Pheasant, one of the linoprints by Gerard Hobson, at Beningbrough Hall’s Hayloft gallery

Helen Osbond, exhibition manager for the National Trust, says: “We’re thrilled to host so much of Gerard’s work at Beningbrough this winter. In working towards the exhibition, it’s been a real insight to see how, as an artist, he draws on his botanist background in his designs, and there’s a short video in the bothy showing the process and steps taken in the intricate art of linoprinting.” 

Make sure to head upstairs in the stables to the Hayloft for an indoor exhibition showcasing more of Gerard’s printed work, all for sale.

A close-up of the wrens, one of 14 sculptural scenes by Gerard Hobson at Beningbrough Hall this winter

“It’s not only the chance to discover the series of sculptural scenes, we want the visit to be an immersive experience,” adds Helen. “Visitors can create a feeder in the bothy and pick up one of the special colouring-in sheets in the walled garden restaurant, while in the laurel den there’s a dawn chorus soundscape; a reminder of warmer days to come.”

Did you know?

SINCE childhood, Gerard Hobson has had a love for birds, animals and art. His fascination with wildlife saw him qualify as a zoologist from Bangor University in 1984 and he then worked for a couple of years for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as a botanist. Later he became an illustrator for the trust, working on leaflets and sign boards.

Artist Gerard Hobson surveys his wren work at Beningbrough Hall

After relocating up north, Gerard worked for Yorkshire Wildlife and continued to develop his work on a freelance basis.

In more recent years, he has turned his hand to woodcarving and these days focuses his attentions on print making, having studied the art form in York.