More Things To Do in and around York, from B-movie art attacks to silent Indian cinema. List No. 81, courtesy of The Press, York

Swapping New York for York: King Kong clambers onto York Minster in Lincoln Lightfoot’s exhibition, Revelation, at Fossgate Social and Micklegate Social

AS not only tourists and stag and hen parties invade York, but so do UFOs, dinosaurs, even King Kong, Charles Hutchinson plots an escape route to other delights.

Exhibition launch of the week: Lincoln Lightfoot’s Revelation, Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, today until July 7

SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on unsuspecting York at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social cafe bars from this weekend.

For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future both in retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations.

On show in Micklegate Social from this evening’s 6pm to 10pm launch will be the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social. All works are for sale.

Spiffing chaps Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science at York Theatre Royal

Here comes the science bit: Morgan & West in Unbelievable Science, York Theatre Royal, today, 2pm

GREAT Yorkshire Fringe festival favourites Morgan & West return to York to present their new show Unbelievable Science, full of captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics and bonkers biology.

Spiffing chaps Rhys Morgan and Robert West combine their trademark showmanship and silliness from their decade of magic shows with genuine scientific knowledge and a lifelong love of learning to create a fun science extravaganza for all ages.

Fires, explosions, lightning on stage, optical illusions, mass audience experiments and 3D shadow puppets await all those “wily enough to come along to be intrigued by science”. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Howzat for cricket stories: Test Match Special chat with Tuffers & Agnew at York Barbican

Not just cricket: Test Match Special Live with Agnew & Tuffers, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

PHIL Tufnell and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew take you inside the Beeb’s famous TMS commentary box to share memories from their playing careers and beyond the boundary.

What was it like facing Shane Warne in his prime? Which member of the TMS team never buys dinner? What really happened the night after the 2005 Ashes triumph? Enjoy never-before-seen footage of iconic commentary moments and discover what life is really like watching England from the finest seat in the house. Special guest will be TMS statistics guru and BBC Radio 4 comedy presenter Andy Zaltzman. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Badapple Theatre’s Jess Woodward, Robert Wade and Stephanie Hutchinson in Elephant Rock, part of the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal

Festival of the week: TakeOver, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday

THIS week-long arts festival is organised and run entirely by final-year York St John University students. Unveiling hidden worlds of the unspoken to curious minds of any age, the event combines local and personal stories with an exploration of the wider world through a combination of theatre, memory and art.

Among those taking part will be Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre performing artistic director Kate Bramley’s Elephant Rock on Tuesday at 7.30pm in their first Theatre Royal visit in a decade. For the full programme, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Seeta Devi, one of the early stars of Indian silent cinema, in the role of Sunita in A Throw Dice

Film event of the week: Yorkshire Silent Film Festival presents A Throw Of Dice (PG), National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

A THROW Of Dice, an Indian box-office hit from 1929, rivals Cecil B De Mille for screen spectacle in its lavishly romantic story of rival Indian kings – one good, one bad – who fall in love with the same woman.

Based on an episode from The Mahabarata and filmed in India with 10,000 extras, 1,000 horses, 50 elephants and an all-Indian cast, this silent classic will be accompanied by a live score, improvised by Indian pianist Utsav Lal. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Karen Ilsley, as Dorothy Nettle, and Stuart Leeming, as Jefferson Steel, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ production of A Bunch Of Amateurs

Play of the week: The Stockton Foresters in A Bunch Of Amateurs, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, May 12 to 14, 7.30pm

THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown is Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs, the story of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.

Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, on this occasion by Louisa Littler’s cast of Stuart Leeming, Karen Ilsley, Holly Smith, Russell Dowson, Jane Palmer, Peter Keen and Lynne Edwards. Box office: 01904 400583.

Shed Seven: Chasing winners and Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse

Outdoor gig of the week: Shed Seven, Doncaster Racecourse Live After Racing, May 14

SHED Seven’s live-after-racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders for a third time next Saturday after two false starts.

The York band’s outdoor Donny debut had to be scrapped twice, first booked for August 15 2020, then May 15 last spring, but each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

To book, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Sara Pascoe: Success Story tour will visit York and Harrogate

Tour announcement of the week: Sara Pascoe, Success Story, York Barbican, November 24; Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21 2023

AFTER contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds comedian Sara Pascoe, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

When an artist called Lincoln puts the fear of alien invasion and dinosaur destruction into York’s historic/hysterical streets

Swapping New York for York: King Kong climbs York Minster, by Lincoln Lightfoot

SOUTH Bank surrealist Lincoln Lightfoot is letting his gloriously ridiculous B-movie nightmares loose on unsuspecting York at the Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social cafe bars from this weekend.

For two months, past meets present and a forewarned future both in retro art style and subject matter in Revelation, his humorously absurdist depictions of surreal encounters with beasts and creatures as they take over landmark locations.

On show in Micklegate Social from Saturday’s 6pm to 10pm launch will be the first release of Lincoln’s larger, compelling paintings, 150 by 100cm in size, complemented by giclee prints of those new works at Fossgate Social. All works are for sale.

Born in Hartlepool in 1992, Lincoln developed his love of York, its heritage, buildings and culture, when studying Fine Art and Contemporary Practice at York St John University and first exhibited prints at Fossgate Social in 2018.

Now comes Revelation’s exploration of surreal happenings in compositions that echo the B-movie poster art of the 1950s and ’60s. “During that time, the Cold War kept us in perpetual fear of extinction from nuclear Armageddon until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet bloc,” says Lincoln.

Isolation, by Lincoln Lightfoot

“Today we have growing similarities re-emerging due to the conflict in the Ukraine, which threatens to spill over into the wider world.”

Through engagement with art, we can deal with these nightmares, argues Lincoln, who says children confront and make sense of a dangerous world through stories and rhymes and are taught of danger through the safe spaces of literature and illustration that deal with anecdote and myth.

Revelation taps into our present condition of fear that news media and politicians perpetuate in our post Covid-19 world, suggests Lincoln. “This show, with its threatening visitations of beasts and creatures, attempts to highlight these fears through a safe and comical lens,” he says.

“Juxtaposed with local scenes of our story-book city, it’s not hard to imagine incredible things happening in this part of the world because they already have. Walking through York’s streets and passageways, our heritage resonates in the present. Popular with shoppers and scholars alike, high art co-exists with popular culture.”

Further work by Lincoln this year will see this 2021 and 2022 York Open Studios artist branching out to recognisable global locations as he pursues his passion for art full time after leaving his post as a secondary school head of art in County Durham.

Artist Lincoln Lightfoot at work on the day the aliens came to York

Here CharlesHutchPress discusses art, heritage, York, history’s yoke, night terrors and teaching with artist Lincoln Lightfoot.

Explain the Revelation exhibition title, Lincoln.

“Revelation is an appropriate title hinting at things supernatural. It’s no coincidence that it suggests happenings of biblical significance as it refers to the last book of the Bible and a second coming. It’s also apt as the word literally means ‘a revealing’.”

“Living with history” weighs heavy on York’s shoulders. In your case, you imagine the worst nightmare of living with that history, or living with forces other than tourists taking over the city, be they dinosaurs or aliens. Discuss….

“So many significant events have already taken place; one is in a perpetual state of anticipation as to what the next will be! After the massacre of Jews in Clifford’s Tower, war with Scots, sieges in the English Civil War, lightning striking the Minster on the eve of the ordination of a controversial bishop, York is expectant with ghost hunters and sci-fi buffs.

“In the present-day, it is becoming easier to distrust politicians, large company executives and the media. It seems to me that the world has become laughably money driven with hidden initiatives. When you can’t believe reality, it makes my artwork more relatable.”   

A bridge too far? Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse, by Lincoln Lightfoot


Do you have night terrors or is there more of the B-movie humorist about your imagery and how you see life in York?

“I definitely find life amusing, I think in the hardest times it’s the best way to deal with it. I’m a big Monty Python fan. My work at degree level was described as ‘very Monty Python’. One of my favourite sketches has to be the crucifixion scene in The Life Of Brian. I would hope that my work can offer something similar in the way of humour.”

How has your own life influenced such a disposition?
“When I was 22, my aortic artery dissected in the gym due to a large aneurysm in the aortic arch. Fortunately, I don’t remember much of the initial incident and unbelievably awoke from an induced coma three days later.

“I now live with a pacemaker, metal heart valve and numerous aortic stints and grafts. Before this I was a healthy, athletic, basketball-playing young man and there is no clear diagnosis for my weak connective tissue.

“Following this incident, I find it incredibly difficult to get angry. I considered myself ‘the unluckiest luckiest man’. I conclude that life can be so laughably unbearable. Imagine living in one of my paintings or a terrible B-movie. I recall returning home from my stint in hospital and drowning under the weight of my duvet. I lay there laughing at myself. Can’t remember how it ended; I probably had to call for help once I stopped laughing.”    

“At such times of crisis when the population lives in fear, art mirrors these fears,” says Lincoln Lightfoot, creator of Minster UFO

Fear is ramping up. Covid. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oppressive, 24-hour rolling media coverage and cynical, manipulative politicians play their part in spreading that fear. Cue your worst nightmare artworks. Discuss…

At such times of crisis when the population lives in fear, art mirrors these fears. A Cold War fear of nuclear Armageddon has now returned with Putin threatening to nuke us daily because of continuing support for the Ukrainians.

“When I was younger, I took no interest in the news. I was told by my father that ‘you need to take an interest in what is going on in the world! You are part of it after all’! I probably thought it was ‘boring’; these days I wonder if my generation is trying to make it more interesting and has turned to unbelievable plots lines, twists and unrealistic personalities.

“I question the stupidity of it all and then realise it is naive to believe that the world has never been this annoyingly worrying before. The work aims to echo the zeitgeist of our times.  

“From the Brothers Grimm to Disney movies, we are taught to deal with difficult real-life scenarios. My disbelief for current world events cushions my conscience. As touched on before, I hope that my artwork is a humorous release from the real world.

“I find it increasingly reminiscent of the creation of Godzilla in 1954. Godzilla being a Hollywood-whitewashed Hiroshima metaphor. The ‘King of Monsters!’ is a reminder of past atrocities in the hope that they are never to be repeated.” 

“I hope that my artwork is a humorous release from the real world,” says Lincoln Lightfoot. Fear not, York, here comes his vision of a city under Mars Attack.

What are the essential differences between your larger works and smaller pieces?

“My larger pieces allude to history painting as opposed to easel painting. Traditionally, history paintings have a greater importance not just due to their size, but the implied narratives they espouse too.

“I’m compelled by the work of John Martin and his romantic, large, biblical, end-of-the-world paintings. It is said that Victorian audiences would await viewing his works in anticipation like a modern audience about to view Roland Emmerich’s films 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow.

“Additional effects would be employed, lights of the gallery would flicker and ghastly thundering noises would be heard; this would trigger an emotive response from the audience, many releasing great gasps and screams.

“There’s also a link to his work in the exhibition title, Revelation, as many of his works depict frightening biblical and end-of-the-world scenes. 

“Generations now are disaffected by such static imagery. Applying comic relief ironically flips the emotive response and appeals to the emerging NFT [non-fungible token] culture.” 

“York isn’t just a pretty face. It has compelling history to accompany its looks,” says Lincoln, here depicting The Day Of The Dinosaurs as they tower over Northern Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral


What makes York such a wonderful city to depict in art?

“York is a picture-book city. Its beauty and architecture is reason enough to visit but don’t be fooled; York isn’t just a pretty face. It has compelling history to accompany its looks, whatever your favourite period in time.

“There is architecture from every age, stepping into an architectural time machine, from the lonely Roman column next to the Minster to the mediaeval Clifford’s Tower. Painting its complex architecture keeps you looking and the eye never tires at nuances of light and shadow raking across buttresses, ramparts, arches and chimneys.

“With banal street names such as Mad Alice Lane and Whipmawhopmagate, you can easily be left questioning whether or not this is a real place. One can see why the city has been captured by so many artists over the centuries.”

How would you describe York to someone who has never been here?

“If you are visiting the city for the first time, you can simply find your way into the centre by heading for York’s iconic Minster. A planning law means that no other structure can be built higher than this magnificent Gothic construction.

Lincoln Lightfoot’s poster artwork for his Revelation exhibition at Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social

“The city is beautiful, yes, but it is unique and intricate. I’m bedazzled by the stone masonry, not only on York Minster but across the city too.

“Life can be stressful at times, but a walk amongst the elaborate architectural beauty forces you out of yourself.  Every venture into the city, one notices something new like a quaint passageway to hidden dwellings, or ornamentation such as gargoyles and unique roof features.

“Looking upwards, you discover perspectives that are surely wrong, such as bending verticals and sloping horizontals.

“As a student living in the city, I was over the moon to discover York’s many snickelways and to gain knowledge and mastery over the medieval street plan.  I would recommend a journey out in early morning or twilight as the light rakes across surfaces and there are not many people around. This is when the city is at its most expectant.”

Not York, but the other York, New York as Lincoln Lightfoot goes global in his B-movie visions for Damsel In Distress

What’s coming next for you beyond Revelation?

“At the moment I have a number of pieces in the pipeline that focus on more world-renowned landmarks. Once the current exhibition is under way, I intend to start another body of work in readiness for exhibition. I’m hoping to further develop my skills as a painter and also have some new exploits in the form of large-scale mural commissions.” 

You have followed your father – a school head of art & design – into teaching that very same subject, with considerable prowess, but you decided to leave your full-time teaching post at Easter. Why?

“I developed an inherent love for teaching having worked five consecutive summers at Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks. It has been a hard decision to make after teaching for eight years and leading the art, craft & design department for six of those.

“I concocted thrilling projects such as ‘Beware of the Plants’ and ‘Impossible Worlds’, and ran trips and workshops not only to educate but to fuel creative thought too. After developing key cognitive skills, I would encourage students to develop ideas and create on a large scale in a variety of exciting materials.

“I remember being told that I should stick to small-scale ‘secondary school art’ to make things easier. The pandemic took the wind out of my sails and I was forced to think creatively and had to leave a lot of the materiality behind.

Fallen Angel, as the anger of the north takes over, by Lincoln Lightfoot

“After reading a lot of Ken Robinson [director of the Arts in Schools Project], and with an ever-increasing love for my own subject, I became frustrated with the one-size-fits-all approach. The irony is that the leadership of and in schools isn’t in the hands of educators but merely business execs whose sole aim is to produce the best high-performing products.

“After much discussion with my fiancé, close friends and relatives, I’ve decided to focus on fully practising what I was preaching full time. Although I’m incredibly excited about changing my career path, I’m still worried and angered by the ever-increasing cuts to funding in art and design education.

“That’s paired with an overwhelming increase in mental and consequently physical health problems in the teaching profession and a mass feeling of under-appreciation, which was documented in recent Times Educational Supplements.”

Might you do some freelance teaching?

“I don’t think I will ever rule out a return to teaching if an exciting opportunity arises. In January, I was invited to Hempland Primary School, in Heworth, to deliver an artist talk and workshop to Year 4 students. It was great to see the students so excited by my unusual works of art.

“I incredibly enjoyed the event and the work produced by students was fantastic! In the past I’ve run adult classes, which I have also greatly enjoyed, and I always consider returning to Brant Lake Camp each summer, where my love for teaching began.” 

Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, present Lincoln Lightfoot’s exhibition Revelation from May 7 to July 7. 

Paris meets its match: Le Blob consumes the Eiffel Tower, as forewarned by Lincoln Lightfoot

South Bank Studios host art & craft winter fair for Christmas shopping on Nov 13

Carolyn Coles’s studio at South Bank Studios, Bishopthorpe Road, York

SOUTH Bank Studios, an artists’ group based at Southlands Methodist Church, York, open their doors and studios to the public for their annual Art & Craft Winter Fair on November 13. 

From 10am to 5pm, 28 artists are exhibiting jewellery, ceramics, lino prints, textile art and fine art paintings and prints, all available to buy, just in time for Christmas. Entry is free.

“There has never been a better time than now to support local artists” says Donna Maria Taylor, one of the event organisers and artists from the studios in Bishopthorpe Road. “The South Bank Studios ethos is to build our community, so we decided that as well as showcasing our own work, we would invite other artists and makers to join us at the fair. 

“We have a great range of artists showing, such as Carolyn Coles, Caroline Utterson, Jane Dignum, Lincoln Lightfoot, Richard Whitelegg, Mandi Grant and Fiona Lane, to name just a few. There really will be a fantastic selection on offer.”

South Bank Studios’ poster for the November 13 art and craft winter fair

When selecting artists and makers to take part, South Bank Studios made sure that collectively they would offer a varied price range, so no-one should miss out, says Donna.

“But it’s not just about shopping,” she continues. “The studios will be open, so visitors get a chance to look behind the scenes. We will also have performances from the York Music Centre ensembles, including the Senior Concert Band (10am), the Guitar Ensemble (11am), the Senior Folkestra (11.30am) and Big Band (12.30pm). There will be delicious homemade refreshments from the church team too.” 

Since the group was formed in 2018, South Bank Studios have been involved in community projects and also hold workshops. For more information on the artists and what’s going on, visit their website, southbankstudios.co.uk.

South Bank Studios’ artist Mandi Grant

Who are the NEW artists in the 2021 York Open Studios? Meet the second sextet…

Minster Flypast, retro digital print, by York Open Studios 2021 artist Lincoln Lightfoot

AFTER the Covid-enforced fallow year of 2020, York Open Studios returns at the weekend for its 20th festival celebration of the city’s creative talent

Preceded by Friday’s preview evening, the event will see 145 artists and makers open 95 studios, homes and workplaces on July 10 and 11 and July 17 and 18, from 10am to 5pm.

Among them will be 43 debutants, prompting CharlesHutchPress to highlight six newcomers a day over the week ahead, in map guide order, as York prepares for a showcase of ceramic, collage, digital art, illustration, jewellery, mixed media, painting, print, photography, furniture, sculpture and textiles skills this month.

Pennie Lordan: Exploring the theme of Edgelands

Pennie Lordan, painting, Greenwood Barn Studio, Moor Lane, Copmanthorpe, York

PENNIE’S oil paintings explore the stark contrast and parallels that exist between loss and hope, sensitivity and brutality, isolation and connectedness through the theme of Edgelands.

“My paintings are developed from studies that come directly from location sketches, often on pre-prepared grounds that reference a sense of composition and atmosphere,” she says.

“These studies then develop into oil paintings, built on varied prepared grounds and developed through the process of multiple thin layers of oil paint and cold wax, often applied, wiped back and re-applied.”

Pennie Lordan

Her work is painted on linen, incorporating subtle stitching, or canvas or disregarded found materials, such as pitched pine, board or aluminium.

Londoner Pennie runs two creative businesses in York with her husband, having arrived here with a background in animation, art and education. She has completed three years of studying landscape painting at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh.

Day Of The Dinosaurs, oil painting, by Lincoln Lightfoot

Lincoln Lightfoot, digital prints and oil paintings, 118 Brunswick Street, South Bank, York. First weekend only

LINCOLN’S surreal images draw on the B-movie imagery of the 1950s and ‘60s, his broad theme being ridiculous and surreal encounters with beasts that appear to us in recognisable locations.

Not so much King Kong climbing the Empire State Building in New York as a tentacled dayglo Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse attacking a bridge in York, as the ancient city’s heritage resonates in the present day.

“Walking through York’s streets, your creative mind can just let loose and go to work,” says Lincoln Lightfoot

What does the city of York conjure in Lincoln’s mind? “It’s a story-book city, conjuring up tales of the past. Walking through its streets, your creative mind can just let loose and go to work. It’s not hard to imagine incredible things happening there because they already have.”

In his artistic response to walking those city streets, the Fine Art graduate from York St John University questions what might be in store for 2021.

So, Lincoln, what exactly is in store this year for you and the rest of us? “Aliens, man, definitely aliens,” he warns. “There are more influential individuals making statements and releasing information by the day.” 

A textile design by Amy Stubbs

Amy Stubbs,textiles,51 Balmoral Terrace, York

RELOCATED to York in a return to her northern roots, pattern print designer Amy now works from the PICA Studios artist hub in Grape Lane.

This textile design graduate from Falmouth University draws inspiration “from a wealth of experience brought to her by her strong Yorkshire family heritage and the opportunity to experience varying cultures”.

Amy Stubbs: Strong mark-making, motifs and collaging

Consequently, Amy’s textile work combines manually drawn abstract elements with the aid of digital technology to create her surface pattern prints that feature strong mark-making motifs and collaging.

She will be sharing her York Open Studios space with Emily Stubbs, who creates hand-built sculptural ceramic vessels – cheeky, bright and full of life in character – that explore the relationship between colour, form and texture.

Two of Jilly Lovett’s one-of-a-kind dolls

Jilly Lovett, textiles, 212 Bishopthorpe Road, York

JILLY designs and sews one-of-a-kind dolls in a folk art style, using recycled felt, incorporating embroidery, applique and other vintage finds to create original works for display.

Since studying Fine Art at Edinburgh University, she has worked in creative industries variously as a botanical illustrator, editor, art director and now a textile artist.

Jilly Lovett: Creator of quirky, characterful dolls

Her main focus is on creating quirky, characterful art dolls with unique details, such as pearly kings with button-embellished coats and fearsome pirates armed with silver fish knives.

Private commissions give Jilly the chance to research new subjects and to experiment with different materials and patterns.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre, by Elliot Harrison

Elliot Harrison, illustration, 21 Finsbury Street, York 

ELLIOT creates architectural illustrations, prints and posters showcasing iconic York buildings and views, favouring a vibrant colour palette inspired by Art Deco design and vintage 20th century travel posters.

His distinctive retro York portfolio has been catching the eye for the past five years, whether at Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop, Blossom Street Gallery or O & M at Snowhome or in exhibitions at York Hospital and the Rowntree Park Reading Café.

Among his most popular illustrations are Rowntree Park, Bishopthorpe Road, the Blossom Street Odeon cinema, the former Clifton Cinema, the former Terry’s factory, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre and York Minster.

Elliot Harrison: York’s future of retro art

His commissions include illustrations for York Theatre Royal, The Piece Hall, in Halifax, York Bunny Trail and home and shop-front portraits.

Elliot, who gained a degree in art and design from York St John University, has expanded his repertoire to take in running medals, mugs, coasters, cards, Christmas cards, York calendars and hand-pressed lino prints of York architecture.

Demonstrations will be available over the two weekends. In the meantime, check out his work via elliot@york360.co.uk.

Nicola Lee’s work combines drawing, photography and folding

Nicola Lee, drawing, Southbank Studios, Southlands Methodist Church, 97 Bishopthorpe Road, York

NICOLA has a quiet practice, wherein observation and encounter are fundamental aspects.
She uses drawing, folding and photography, exploring through process and the inherent voice of materials to record, respond and evoke her experience of looking.

Her practice has drawn from notions of traditional Japanese aesthetics found in Tanka poetry. Under the shadow of these influences, she uses a digital camera, plays with camera-less photographic methods and creates series of drawings and artist books.

Nicola Lee: Drawn to line, pattern and shape occurring in peripheral space

“My visual interest lies beyond the object,” Nicola says. “I’m drawn to line, pattern and shape occurring in peripheral space.  A space which is fluid, ambiguous and lacking in definition.  A space in which the peripheral becomes the object.

” I use process and material to play with ideas of repetition, reduction and abstraction in order to explore my encounter with the space between.”

NEXT UP: Caroline Utterson, Rebecca Mason, Henry Steele, Sarah Cornwall, Laura Masheder and Silva Rerum.

What’s in store for 2021? “Aliens, man, definitely aliens,” warns York Open Studios artist and B-movie buff Lincoln Lightfoot

Day Of The Dinosaurs, oil painting, work in progress, by Lincoln Lightfoot

INFLUENCED by the gloriously ridiculous B-movie imagery of the Fifties and Sixties, York artist Lincoln Lightfoot questions what might be in store for 2021.

You can see his humorously absurdist answers when 28-year-old Lincoln makes his York Open Studios debut this summer, after the 20th anniversary show was moved from April to July 10/11 and 17/18.

His digital-print images and oil paintings take the broad theme of surreal encounters with beasts that appear in recognisable locations: not so much King Kong climbing the Empire State Building in New York as a tentacled dayglo Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse attacking a bridge in York.

Born in Hartlepool in 1992, the son of a school head of art & design, Lincoln was always fascinated by art, heading to York St John University to study Fine Art, whereupon the city became the centre of his work for those three years.

It continues to occupy that top spot in his art chart, his digital prints and paintings stalking York’s streets and passageways, our heritage resonating in the present.

Here, Lincoln discusses his name, his art, B-movies, 21st century Surrealism and his love of York with CharlesHutchPress.

York artist Lincoln Lightfoot: Making his York Open Studios debut in July

How did your wonderfully alliterative name Lincoln Lightfoot come about?
I have an American mother from Chicago, which people are often quick to assume is the reason for my name (Abe Lincoln). However, it was my father who came up with it.

“‘Lincoln’ is Old English, meaning ‘the place by the pool’, and I was born in Hartlepool, which has the same meaning. My Dad loves to explain this…and gets an eye roll from me!”

What were your first artistic steps?
“When I was very young, as a family we would go to the beach and this would normally mean one thing: sandcastle building. We would build these embarrassingly big sandcastles with huge trenches around them.

“I was always fascinated by art. I loved to create and still do. My Dad was the head of art & design at my secondary school in Middlesbrough. This often meant staying late in the art department with my younger brother, creating and developing our GCSE and A-level Fine Art coursework. We’d make fantasy towers and giant killer plants. Exciting topics devised by my father.”

Describe those facilities…

“It was a large art department with four purpose-built art classrooms and a vast variety of exciting materials with exciting visual stimuli. There were masks from different cultures, stained-glass panels, tapestries, machine bits, musical instruments, giant shells, tropical plants and stuffed animals. No wall was left bare.”

“I’m in awe of York Minster, the intricate beauty of the architecture and our overwhelming insignificance next to it,” says Lincoln Lightfoot. This work is entitled Minster Flypast

What was your first experience of York?
“My grandparents used to take me and my brother on caravan trips. I remember staying at Rowntree Park a number of times. I loved the untouched feel of the city, the idea that things within the city had been there for hundreds of years. I still can’t get enough of it.

“Every time I’m in town, I see something new, something that fascinates me. I’m often left saying, ‘How come I haven’t seen that before?’.

“I’m in awe of York Minster, the intricate beauty of the architecture and our overwhelming insignificance next to it.”


Why did you choose to study at York St John University?

“I initially applied to Edinburgh School of Art and Glasgow School of Art. At the age of 18, I was quite confident in my artistic ability. Probably too confident, seeing as I had decided there was no need to do a foundation year prior to applying. I didn’t put enough effort into my art portfolio and didn’t make the cut.

“The idea was to poke fun at the absurdity of mankind,” says Lincoln Lightfoot, explaining why he dressed as a ringmaster at the York Wheel . “I held a hamster cage with a hamster in it and talked nonsense to anyone who asked me what I was doing”

“My next choice was York St John. I’d chosen the university because I loved the city and I knew they offered a Fine Art course. Other than this, I didn’t know too much about the university itself, but I quickly realised I’d made a great decision and what followed were some of the best years of my life.

“York St John was a second home and a uniquely tightly-knit community. I joined the YSJ Basketball Club. I grew socially more than anything else, while falling more in love with the city. I enjoyed its history, its beautiful quad and ‘Archie’s days’ [a YSJ tradition at the end of every semester].”

When and where did you first exhibit in the city?
“After initial exhibitions at York St John’s gallery spaces in my first year, inspired by the art of Futurist Performance, I dressed as a ringmaster in front of the Yorkshire Wheel: a giant Ferris wheel located in front of the Principal York hotel (from 2011 to 2013).

“The idea was to poke fun at the absurdity of mankind. I held a hamster cage with a hamster in it and talked nonsense to anyone who asked me what I was doing.”

 
What medium did you choose for your final project at York St John?

“Performance Art. In my final year, the York St John basketball team, a bunch of 6ft-plus young men, including myself, dressed up in black suits, with bowler hats and briefcases.

Towards The Metaphysical, a performance art piece by Lincoln Lightfoot, for his final-year project at York St John University

“We covered our faces with women’s black tights and did a ‘work commute’ at 7am. Flooding the city with faceless businessmen and getting escorted out of York railway station by the police for obvious reasons.

“This happening was documented and used for my 3rd Year degree show. My businessmen flooded the opening night, to the annoyance of my other peers.”


Where and when did you last exhibit in the city?
“In Summer 2019, I exhibited a series of surreal prints at Spark:York. Prior to that, the work had made a debut at the Fossgate Social.

“I currently have the series of prints adorning the walls of Rehab Piccadilly and a giant Godzilla painting over the top of a Tour de Yorkshire poster in Micklegate Social.”

What does the city of York conjure in your mind, if you had to sum it up?
“It’s a story-book city, conjuring up tales of the past. Walking through its streets, your creative mind can just let loose and go to work. It’s not hard to imagine incredible things happening there because they already have.”

They say that if you don’t leave York after three years, the city will have you in its grip and you will never say goodbye! True or a load of jackson pollocks?

“Completely true. I am testament to the statement.”

Artist Lincoln Lightfoot with his Tour de Yorkshire artwork, Godzilla, at Micklegate Social, York

York has to live with the chain of history around its neck: your work makes us look at it in a different way in the tradition of artists being outsiders. Discuss…

“Lots of artists are drawn to the city as a subject because of its historical architecture and picturesque views. It’s a path well-trodden. I’m currently playing around with a series of giant oil paintings that would strive to be similar to the style of [English Romantic painter, illustrator and engraver] John Martin’s biblical end-of-the-world scenes. I guess in some ways, if executed with a high enough level of skill, they could be seen to poke fun at high art.

“I love the stories of John Martin’s work; for contemporaries it would be like a modern-day visit to the cinema, maybe even more emotive. People would scream before them in horror. (Ironically his brother, ‘Mad Martin’, was a non-conformist who set fire to York Minster on February 1 1829). 

“People often go in search of escapism, fascinated by unconventional ideas or elaborate fantasy worlds. That’s what makes B-movie poster art so attractive. To strip it back to a recognisable location can only make it more appealing.” 


Is that what drew you to your distinctive subject matter of imposing B-movie imagery on familiar York landmarks?

“The city of York has such impressive views to inspire thousands of artists already. I’m fascinated by myths, legends, UFOs and other sightings of strange creatures; with these unlikely creatures in mind, I became consumed with surreal thoughts.

Minster Crafts, as depicted by B-movie enthusiast Lincoln Lightfoot

“My friends galvanised my thinking and would message me, ‘Hey, have you thought of this, what if….?!’. It ultimately brings you back to this child-like state of excitement and wonder.

“I find what makes it enjoyable for the public is if both landmark and mythical creature are well-known. I love it when my art gives people that moment of ‘closure’. In particular, when kids drag their parents over, pointing, ‘Look! Look!’. I sometimes think they get it more than the adults.” 

Which Fifties and Sixties’ B-movies have inspired you and why?

“My home in York’s South Bank is full of key inspirations to my work. The first B-movie poster to grab my attention was Attack Of The 50ft Woman by Reynold Brown. I saw it in a vintage shop when I was in London. It was an A1 copy. My Attack Of The 50ft Rubber Ducky! paid homage to that.

“I love most of them, though my girlfriend has put a limit on the amount I’m allowed to hang around our house!

“I have Invasion Of The Saucer-Men and La Terra Contro I Dischi Volanti, which translates as something like The Earth Against Flying Saucers. These have inspired my own versions of Alien-style invasions.

Inspired by Reynold Brown: Attack Of The 50ft Rubber Ducky, by Lincoln Lightfoot

“I also love the 1996 film Mars Attacks! I have an It Came From Beneath The Sea poster, which inspired my Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse! and The Corn Exchange Creature!, a giant coiling, twisting centipede.

“Then, of course I have the Attack Of The 50ft Woman poster, so I have now reached the limit of wall-space.”

What else is filling that space?

“David Blaine’s Beneath The Below poster; a Chicago World’s Fair from 1933, and an antique original tourist poster from 1907, Healthy Hartlepool, which reminds me of the golden age of North Eastern Railways.

“I love the poster for From Hell It Came, a movie about a giant killer tree. The movie trailer is hilarious. As Art & Design department lead at a school in Sunderland, it links to a GCSE project I do called Beware Of The Plants. A design entertainment crafts style project that ends with an installation of terrifying, organic, plant-like creatures in the school’s greenhouses.”

The Corn Exchange Creature!, wherein a centipede goes on the rampage in Leeds, by Lincoln Lightfoot

Far too many happenings/events/experiences are described as surreal but your work absolutely fits the description. How would you define surreal/surrealism today?

“Contemporary Surrealism addresses people’s worries and stresses and provides an escape into an alternative world and helps us cope with anxiety in safe and sometimes humorous ways in these times of isolation and stress.

“It differs from the pioneers of the 1920s and 1930s with the advances in film and graphic media. We have the tools to blur reality with fantasy even more convincingly.

“Freudian psychology, Giorgio de Chirico and Romanticism originally fed the ideas of the Surrealist movement, but the real spark to the zeitgeist seems to have been the horrors of World War One and born out of Italian Futurism.”

You create art of the absurd, the ridiculous, your art being playful yet playing on our worst nightmares too. Discuss…

“I’ve always believed that through the consumption of art, we can deal with nightmares and perceived dangers safely. As children, we confront and make sense of a dangerous world through fairy stories and nursery rhymes.

“Young people wish to be told of danger through anecdote and myth in a safe space. I attempt to continue this addiction and appeal to adults too.”

A spaceman adrift in York: Land Of The Lost, by Lincoln Lightfoot

You say “high art co-exists with popular culture” in your work. Does that make it 21st century Pop Art? It certainly makes it eye-catching to shoppers…

“Yes, it sits within the definition of Pop Art traditions, which, of course, began in London 1957, before New York. Ultimately, the smaller works use the ideas and graphicacy of Pop, though without advertising.

“I’m moving into more traditional techniques with oil on canvas that seek to blur the boundaries.”

How have you coped with life in Lockdown x 3? Has it had an impact on your work in these fear-filled times?

“Life in lockdown has been kind when contrasting with others. It has afforded me time to reflectand take stock of where I might be going as an artist and art educator.

“Walking around York, seeing the streets and alleyways otherwise populated with people, now deserted, has reinforced my practice in a profound way. Many of the documented photographs I took could lead to future ideas.

“Initially, it’s a time where the word ‘surreal’ may be justified. I’m still expecting to wake up in March 2020.”

You have been told: The Truth Is Out There!, by Lincoln Lightfoot

Does your own artwork influence your teaching of Art & Design in Sunderland?

“I’m creating art as much as possible and often use it to inspire my students, developing exciting and enriching programmes of study.”

Why did you want to take part in York Open Studios? What opportunities does it present to you?

“I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. It’s a fantastic opportunity to platform artwork and to meet new people. Only now am I happy with a body of exciting work and have space to exhibit it.” 

More than 140 artists and craft-makers will be opening their doors for York Open Studios. How do you rate the York art scene?

“York’s art scene is forever growing, with an increasing number of creative spaces and events across the city. It’s alive, vibrant and has everything for anyone, regardless of age, background and appetite.”

“Watch out for more fantastical beings invading York’s ancient places,” warns Lincoln Lightfoot, creator of Micklegate Mayhem, Christmas

What’s coming next for you in the art world?

“Watch out for more fantastical beings invading York’s ancient places.

I’m now working on larger-scale oil paintings that use chiaroscuro not associated with Pop Art, but use blending and glazing. The best of these will be made into Giclee limited-edition prints.”

One final question: your York Open Studios profile says you “question what might be in store for 2021?”. So, Lincoln, what exactly is in store for 2021 for you and the rest of us?
“Aliens, man, definitely aliens. There are more influential individuals making statements and releasing information by the day.” 

Lincoln Lightfoot will be opening his doors at 118 Brunswick Street, South Bank, York, for York Open Studios 2021 on July 10/11 only; 10am to 5pm. For more information on Lincoln, go to lincolnlightfoot.co.uk; for details of all York Open Studios artists, visit yorkopenstudios.co.uk.

Bridge attack: The Creature From The Bottom Of The Ouse!, by Lincoln Lightfoot


More Things To Do in and around York and while stuck with “staying home”. Lockdown List No. 25, courtesy of The Press, York

Flood, mixed-media monotype, by Lesley Birch, from Muted Worlds, her joint exhibition with ceramicist Emily Stubbs, running initially online and then at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York

LOCKDOWN 3 plods on with no end in sight deep amid the winter chill, drawing Charles Hutchinson’s gaze to online events, a writing opportunity and the promise of live entertainment somewhere down the line.

Online lockdown exhibition at the double: Emily Stubbs and Lesley Birch, Muted Worlds, for Pyramid Gallery, York

CERAMICIST Emily Stubbs and artist Lesley Birch have teamed up for Muted Worlds, a lockdown exhibition of pots and paintings that has begun as a digital show from their studios before moving to Terry Bretts’s gallery in Stonegate, once Lockdown 3 strictures are eased. 

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Muted Worlds exhibitor and York Open Studios participant

“This is a show with a more muted edge,” say Emily and Lesley. “Winter is here and with it, Covid, and another lockdown, so we feel the need for simplicity. We have collaborated to produce monochrome pieces inspired by the winter season.”

Looking ahead, Emily will be taking part in  York Open Studios this summer, showing her ceramics at 51 Balmoral Terrace.

Rowntree Park: Hosting the Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

Creative project of the winter season: Friends of Rowntree Park’s Words From A Bench project

THE Friends of Rowntree Park invite you to join the Words From A Bench project by submitting a short story or poem based around themes of the York park, the outdoors, nature and escape.

No more than 1,000 words in length, the works will be displayed in the park. Adults and children alike should send entries by February 15 to hello@rowntreepark.org.uk.

Mary Coughlan: Irish singer has had to rearrange her Pocklington Arts Centre concert for a second time

Gigs on the move: Pocklington Arts Centre re-writing 2021 diary

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre is re-scheduling concerts aplenty in response to the relentless grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan’s April 23 show is being moved to October 19; the Women In Rock tribute show, from May 21 to October 29; New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, from February 2 to December 7, and Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, from February 12 to December 2. Tickets remain valid for the rearranged dates.

A new date is yet to be arranged for the postponed February 23 gig by The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s country soul band from Portland, Oregon. Watch this space.

At sixes and sevens: The Gesualdo Six with director Owain Park (third from left, back row)

Early notice of online Early Music Day at National Centre for Early Music, York, March 21

THE Gesualdo Six will lead the NCEM’s celebrations for Early Music Day 2021 on March 21 by embarking on an online whistle-stop musical tour of York.

The Cambridge vocal consort’s concert will be a streamed at 3pm as part of a day when musical organisations throughout Europe will come together for a joyful programme of events to mark JS Bach’s birthday. 

During their residency, The Gesualdo Six will spend almost a week in York performing in a variety of locations on a musical tour of the city that will be filmed and shared in March.

Monster and Minster beyond: A B-movie bridge drama on the Ouse by the alliteratively named Lincoln Lightfoot, one of the debutants in York Open Studios 2021, now moved to July

Better late than never: York Open Studios, switching from spring to summer

CELEBRATING the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists are determined to go ahead with York Open Studios 2021, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

Midge Ure: Opening his Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Planning ahead for next year, part one: Midge Ure & Band Electronica, Grand Opera House, York

MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22, when the 67-year-old Scotsman will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.

Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House in October 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.

Tommy Emmanuel: York gig awaits for fingerstyle Australian guitarist

Planning ahead for next year, part two: Tommy Emmanuel at Grand Opera House, York

AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, 65, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022 in the only Yorkshire show of next year’s12-date tour with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.

At 44, Emmanuel became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. Playing fingerstyle, he frequently threads three different guitar parts simultaneously into his material, handling melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.

Steven Devine: Harpsichordist pictured when recording at the NCEM, York

Online concert series of the season: Steven Devine, Bach Bites, National Centre for Early Music, York, Fridays

EVERY Friday at 1pm, until March 19, harpsichordist Steven Devine is working his way through J S Bach’s Fugues and Preludes in his online concert series. Find it on the NCEM’s Facebook stream.

And what about?

STAYING in, staying home, means TV viewing aplenty. Tuck into the French film talent agency frolics and frictions of Call My Agent! on Netflix and Scottish procedural drama Traces on the Beeb; be disappointed by Finding Alice on ITV.

New dates and new artists and makers for York Open Studios 2021 in the summertime

YORK Open Studios 2021 will be moving from spring to summer after a re-think over the prevailing Lockdown 3 guidelines with no end in place yet.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Britain’s longest-running open studios, York’s artists were keen to go ahead with the event this year, especially after a barren year in 2020, when doors had to stay shut in Lockdown 1.

Consequently, the organisers are switching the two weekends from April 17/18 and 24/25 to July 10/11 and July 17/18, when more than 140 artists and makers will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces in an opportunity for art lovers and the curious to “enjoy fresh air, meet artists and view and buy unique arts and crafts from York’s very best artisans”.

“Our artists are more than happy to commit to the change and are very supportive of the reason behind our decision, so it’s all systems go for July,” says ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel, one of the York Open Studios organisers

Visitors will be welcomed by artists who will adhere to Government guidelines, keeping themselves and visitors Covid-safe throughout. 

Many artists picked to participate last year remain on the list for 2021, complemented by new artists and makers, selected by an external panel of art professionals, to give regular visitors a chance to enjoy new work as well as meet their favourite creative talents.

Fresh additions for 2021 are:  Rosebay, painting;  Emma Crockatt, painting; Katie Greenbrown and Peter Roman, multi-media; Elena Skoreyko Wagner, illustration; Leesa Rayton Design Plus, jewellery; Carrie Lyall, printmaking; Kevin McNulty, printmaking; Pennie Lordan, painting; Lincoln Lightfoot, digital prints; Amy Stubbs, textiles; Tabitha Grove, painting; Michelle Galloway, painting, and Reg Walker, sculpture.

“Heavily influenced by ridiculous B-movie concepts from the ’50s and ’60s, I question what might be in store for 2021,” says York Open Studios debutant Lincoln Lightfoot

So too are: Jilly Lovett, textiles; Elliot Harrison, illustration; Caroline Utterson, textiles; Nicola Lee, drawing; Rebecca Mason, textiles; Sarah Cawthray, ceramics; Laura Masheder, jewellery; Sarah Cornwall, ceramics; Silva Rerum, jewellery; Henry Steele, ceramics; Mick Leach, painting; Pietro Sanna, ceramics; Charlotte Dawson, ceramics; Caroline Lewis, collage, and Lucie Wake, painting.

Further debutants are: Pamela Thorby, ceramics; Mark Druery, drawing; Nathan Combes, photography; Kate Akrill, ceramics; Lisa Lundqvist, mixed media; Nick Kobyluch, drawing; Lucy McElroy, painting; Liz O’Connell, glass; Fiona Lane, painting; Ealish Wilson, textiles; Amy Butcher, textiles; Joanna Lisowiec, illustration; Dee Thwaite, painting; Judith Glover, ceramics, and Here Be Monsteras (Kayti Peschke), ceramics.  

The York Open Studios team are delighted with the line-up and the commitment to move to July. Sculptural ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel, one of the event founders, says: “We are grabbing the 2021 York Open Studios with both hands and channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best.

“Rust takes us back to when the Ouse teemed with working barges, you knew your place or else – and jazz was the devil itself,” says Katie Greenbrown of her York Open Studios debut multi-media piece with Peter Roman, screening at the Arts Barge on July 10 and 11 at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm

“Our decision to move from April to July this year gives us the opportunity for the stricter current Covid guidelines to relax and, with July giving us better weather, we believe the public will have more confidence when visiting artists’ studios. 

“Our artists are more than happy to commit to the change and are very supportive of the reason behind our decision, so it’s all systems go for July.”

Beccy, who will be showing her work at South Cottage Workshop, Shipton Road, adds: “Artists and makers bring a diverse range of skills to the weekends, producing bespoke ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, wood carving and multi-media.

“There’s something for everyone and every pocket.  The artists also love to showcase their work within their surroundings and really value the interaction, whether you’re a buyer or a burgeoning artist. It’s a fabulous way too to enjoy York and view extraordinary work. York Open Studios is a date worth saving.”