Michele Bianco and Pascale Rentsch venture off the beaten track for natural world exhibition at Watermark Gallery

Work by Michele Bianco and Pascale Rentsch: On show at Watermark Gallery, Harrogate, from March 4

YORKSHIRE ceramicist Michele Bianco and Scottish painter Pascale Rentsch will head Off The Beaten Track for Watermark Gallery’s spring exhibition in Harrogate.

Both cite venturing out into hidden areas of the natural world as inspiration for work created exclusively for a show that will run from March 4 to April 2 at Liz and Richard Hawkes’s gallery in Royal Parade.

“From time spent on long-distance walks and the coastal paths of North Yorkshire and Northumberland, to the Western Isles and Scottish lochs, both artists draw on the effect of the elements on those environments to seek out compositions and shapes to inform their work,” says curator Liz.

Ceramicist Michele Bianco

Originally from Stokesley, avid hiker Bianco makes works inspired by the landscape of northern England and the Scottish Highlands, where her two studios are based. For Watermark Gallery, she has fashioned intricate and beautiful forms from a variety of stoneware clays.

“I try to make work which, in a small way, expresses the beauty I see around me and the way it makes me feel,” she says.

Meanwhile, Bianco is making tracks of a different kind, as she is almost half-way through an epic 1,000km trek from her former studio in Yarm, Cleveland, to her West Highland base.

Split Sphere vessel, stoneware, by Michele Bianco

As she walks the route in stages, natural phenomena such as Teesdale’s Whin Sill, along with the Northumbrian coastline, have influenced the vessels, spheres and bowls that will be exhibited at Watermark Gallery.

“Michele is fascinated by the world around her, from the intricate tracery of winter trees to the passage of time and the way changes are evidenced in the geology of the landscape,” says Liz.

“Her creations represent an intense synergy between form and environment, and like the artist herself, they exude a deep connection to our natural world.

“Michele’s hand-carved ripple vessels, in their distinctive blue cobalt glazes, reflect centuries of erosion by water and wind on rock.”

Painter Pascale Rentsch at work

Swiss-born Pascale Rentsch, who lives in East Lothian, is a proponent of plein-air painting, immersing herself in the beauty of her surrounding coast and countryside. “I am always moved when painting in nature, because wherever I look, I feel hope,” says the 2021 winner of the RSW Scottish Arts Club Award.

“That hope is abundantly clear when viewing her deeply sensitive and touching paintings, where Pascale captures the immediacy of changing weather and light through the seasons, often in challenging conditions, ” says Liz, ahead of launching Watermark Gallery’s new season.

Seashells, mixed media, by Pascale Rentsch

“As we all look forward to longer, warmer days, the work of these two accomplished artists might just inspire some of us to ‘head off the beaten track’ too.”

Off The Beaten Track, Watermark Gallery, Royal Parade, Harrogate, March 4 to April 2. Artists Michele Bianco and Pascale Rentsch will attend a preview on March 4 from 6pm to 8pm. To join them, RSVP by telephoning the gallery on 01423 562659 or by emailing harrogate@watermarkgallery.co.uk.

Gallery opening hours are 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday; check out the website at watermarkgallery.co.uk to view the exhibition online.

The exhibition poster for Off The Beaten Track at Watermark Gallery, Harrogate, featuring one of Michele Bianco’s ceramics