POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will reopen to the public on July 20 and film screenings will re-start on July 23, 491 days since the last performance.
Director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy have chosen this date to ensure the safety of customers and volunteers.
“Over the past few months, our main focus has been planning the safe reopening of the building, ensuring all staff are trained appropriately and making sure the venue has all its new systems, resources and processes in place and working well,” says Janet.
“We have sought feedback from staff, volunteers and customers and this will be vital to the success of this process. Our main aim is to ensure the visitor experience at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is safe, secure and enjoyable.”
In late-March 2020, the East Yorkshire venue launched a crowdfunding page, raising more than £18,000 in under a month, followed by successful funding applications to the Smile Foundation’s I Am Fund and the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Janet says: “I would like to thank our customers, in addition to Pocklington Town Council, the Friends of PAC, the Smile Foundation, Arts Council England and the Music Venue Trust for their collective support over the past year.
“It has been a very difficult time for everyone, but their kind words, financial support and continued interest in all things PAC has meant a great deal and helped carry the venue through these extraordinary times.”
Staff have rescheduled forthcoming events for the autumn and winter, transferring more than 4,000 tickets and refunding customers for 20-plus cancelled events.
“Throughout the closure period, we have stated our determination to emerge from the situation more vibrant than ever and our autumn and winter programme is a testament to that,” says Janet.
“2021/22 will see a fantastic range of live events being staged here, alongside our trademark diverse mix of film screenings, live broadcasts, exhibitions, community events and private hires.”
In the diary are Grammy Award winner Loudon Wainwright III, September 24; Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) in Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people”, The Importance Of Being Earnest, September 30; North Eastern gypsy folk-rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers, October 16; Oxford singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore, October 7, and Irish jazz/blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan, October 19.
Bellowhead alumni and BBC Radio Folk Award winners Spiers & Boden are booked in for October 20; Red Ladder Theatre Company, from Leeds, in Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s My Voice Was Heard But Was Ignored, for November 25; television and radio broadcaster and author Jeremy Vine, November 26; Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, December 2, and York drag diva deluxe Velma Celli, December 3.
Confirmed for 2022 are An Evening With Julian Norton, from Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, January 18; singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, January 22;Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and former Amen Corner cornerstone Andy Fairweather Low, February 11, and Eighties’ pop singer and actress ToyahWillcox, March 3.
PAC’s two open-air acoustic concerts in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, with Martin Simpson and Katie Spencer on July 1 and The Dunwells and Rachel Croft on July 8 will go ahead despite the Government’s Step 4 roadmap delay, but now under social-distancing restrictions. Both 7pm shows have sold out.
Janet says: “We always knew this was a possibility when the shows were first planned and there’s sufficient space for people to enjoy the event safely, while experiencing the atmospheric setting of Primrose Wood.”
PAC increased its online artistic output during the pandemic, staging 18 events to more than 9,000 audience members.
In addition, a series of outdoor exhibitions has been held by PAC across the region. York artists Sue Clayton and Karen Winship have shown work at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, and Sue will be following Karen into Hull Waterside and Marina. Those attending the York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar can see her Down Syndrome portraits in the Tent of Hope.
“We felt it was vitally important to have continued customer engagement throughout the prolonged closure period and the public response to these events and exhibitions has been very positive,” says Janet.
“We’re also very much aware there’s no substitute to watching a live performance, in person, and sharing this experience with fellow audience members.
“Everyone at PAC is now counting down the days until the doors can reopen and we can welcome customers back. It’s been a very long interval and we can’t wait for the second half to begin.”
For full event listings and ticket details, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
FREEDOM Day is delayed but Boris Johnson has reached for the Latin dictionary again with his promise of “Terminus Est”. Meanwhile, back in the real world, life goes on in Charles Hutchinson’s socially distanced diary.
Play of the week ahead: Miss Julie, The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, June 22 to 26
ON the Chinese New Year in 1940s’ Hong Kong, the celebrations are in full swing when Julie, the daughter of the island’s British governor, crashes the servants’ party downstairs.
What starts as a game descends into a fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night in the Pearl River Delta in British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng’s adaptation of Strindberg’s psychological drama in New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse’s new touring production. Box office: 01904 623568 or atyorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Reopening of the day: Leeds Grand Theatre
WHEN Leeds Grand Theatre first opened its doors on Monday, November 18 1878, a playbill declared it would “Positively Open”. Now, after 15 months under wraps, it is “Positively Reopening” today (17/62021) for a socially distanced run of Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake until June 26.
In Northern Ballet‘s emotive retelling, Anthony’s life is haunted by guilt after the tragic loss of his brother. When he finds himself torn between two loves, he looks to the water for answers.
There he finds solace with the mysterious swan-like Odette as the story is beautifully reimagined by David Nixon, who will be leaving the Leeds company after 20 years as artistic director in December. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at boxoffice@leedsheritagetheatres
Staying on track: Sounds In The Grounds, Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, June 25 to 27
JAMBOREE Entertainment presents three Covid safety-compliant Sounds In The Grounds concerts next weekend with socially distanced picnic patches at York Racecourse.
First up, next Friday, will be Beyond The Barricade, a musical theatre celebration starring former Les Miserables principals; followed by Abba Mania next Saturday and the country hits of A Country Night In Nashville next Sunday.
Opening each show will be York’s party, festival and wedding favourites, The New York Brass Band. Tickets are on sale at soundsinthegrounds.seetickets.com or at the gate for last-minute decision makers.
Welcome back: York River Art Market, Dame Judi Dench Walk, York, from June 26
AFTER the pandemic ruled out all last year’s live events, York River Art Market returns to its riverside railing perch at Dame Judi Dench Walk, by Lendal Bridge, for ten shows this summer in the wake of the winter’s online #YRAMAtHome, organised by Charlotte Dawson.
Free to browse and for sale will be work by socially distanced, indie emerging and established artists on June 26, July 3, 24, 25 and 31 and August 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28, from 10.30am to 5.30pm, when YRAM will be raising funds for York Rescue Boat.
On show will be landscape and abstract paintings; ink drawings, cards and prints; jewellery and glass mosaics; woodwork and metalwork; textiles and clothing and artisan candles and beauty products.
He’s nervous, but why? Alexander Wright: Remarkable Acts Of Narcissism, Theatre At The Mill, Stillington, near York, July 10, 7.30pm
LET Alex tell the story: “In a potentially remarkable act of narcissism, I am doing a solo gig of my own work in a theatre I built (with Phil Grainger and dad Paul Wright) in my back garden.
“It’s the first time I have ever done a solo gig. I write lots of stuff, direct lots of stuff, tour Orpheus, Eurydice & The Gods to hundreds of places. But I’ve never really stood in front of people and performed my own stuff, on my own, for an extended period. So, now, I am…and I’m nervous about it.”
Expect beautiful stories, beautiful poems and a few beautiful special guests; tickets via atthemill.org.
Summer “pantomime”? Yes, in TaleGate Theatre’s Goldlilocks And The Three Bears, Pocklington Arts Centre, August 12, 2.30pm
ALL the fun of live family theatre returns to Pocklington Arts Centre this summer with Doncaster company TaleGate Theatre’s big top pantomime extravaganza.
In Goldilocks And The Three Bears, pop songs, magic and puppets combine in a magical adventure where you are invited to help Goldilocks and her mum, Dame Dolly Donut, save their circus and rescue the three bears from the evil ringmaster. For tickets, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Festival alert: The Magpies Festival, Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, August 14, music on bar stage from 1.30pm; main stage, from 2.30pm
SAM Kelly & The Lost Boys will headline The Magpies Festival in the grounds of Sutton Park.
Confirmed for the folk-flavoured line-up too are: Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra; Blair Dunlop; fast-rising Katherine Priddy; The Magpies; York musician Dan Webster; East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer; the duo Roswell and The People Versus. Day tickets and camping tickets are available atthemagpiesfestival.co.uk/tickets.
Fun and games combined: JLA Productions in Twelfth Night, Selby Rugby Union Football Club, August 20, 7.30pm; August 21, 2.30pm, 7.30pm
“I’M just getting in touch to announce we’re doing some Shakespeare on a rugby pitch in Selby in August. Crazy? Perhaps. But it’s going to be fun!” promises Luke Adamson, Selby-born actor, London theatre boss and son of former England squad fly half Ray.
Adapted and directed by Adamson, a raucous, musical version of “Shakespeare’s funniest play”, Twelfth Night, will be staged with Adamson as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a cast rich with Yorkshire acting talent.
Out go pantaloons and big fluffy collars, in come rugby socks, cricket jumpers and questionable facial hair. Box office: jlaproductions.co.uk.
EUROS 2020? What Euro 2020? The sun is out and so is Charles Hutchinson’s diary as he points you in the direction of curious CBeebies favourites, acoustic concerts, a dockyard Romeo & Juliet, a large painting, Clough v Leeds United and more ideas aplenty.
Children’s show of the week: Twirlywoos Live!, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow at 1.30pm and 4pm; Saturday, Sunday, 10am and 2pm
TOODLOO, Great BigHoo, Chick and Peekaboo set sail for York on board their Big Red Boat for their Theatre Royal theatrical adventure Twirlywoos Live!.
Curious, inquisitive and eager to learn about the world, these small, bird-like characters from the CBeebies television factory will be brought to life with inventive puppetry, mischief, music and plenty of surprises.
Written by Zoe Bourn, the 55-minute show is recommended for ages 1+; babes in arms are welcome too. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Outdoor gigs of the week ahead: Songs Under Skies 2, National Centre for Early Music churchyard, York June 14 to 16
SONGS Under Skies returns to the NCEM’s glorious gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, for acoustic double bills by Katie Spencer and Joshua Burnell on June 14, Zak Ford and Alice Simmons, June 15, and Epilogues and Sunflower Thieves, June 16.
As with last September’s debut series, season two of the open-air, Covid-safe concerts is presented by the NCEM in tandem with The Crescent community venue, the Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance.
Gates open at 6.30pm for each 7pm to 8.30pm concert with a 30-minute interval between sets. Tickets must be bought in advance, either in “pods” for family groups or as individuals at tickets.ncem.co.uk.
Biggest painting of the week award: Corrina Rothwell’s Subterranea Nostalgia, in The Cacophany Of Ages at Pyramid Gallery, York, until July 1
CORRINA Rothwell’s exhibition of abstract works features the largest canvas painting in the near-30 years that Terry Brett has run Pyramid Gallery in York.
“Subterranea Nostalgia measures 1600mm by 1600mm. That was fun, getting it upstairs!” says Terry, whose gallery is housed in a National Trust-owned 15th century building in Stonegate. “The painting has a real impact. If you know anyone with really big walls, it would be perfect for them!”
Nottingham artist Corrina favours mixed media and acrylic on canvas for the paintings, on show at Pyramid and online at pyramidgallery.com.
Football, football, football, not on the box but in a theatre: Red Ladder Theatre Company in The Damned United, York Theatre Royal, June 16
THE choice is yours: Italy versus Switzerland at the Euro 2020 on ITV at 8pm or the inner workings of Brian Clough’s troubled mind at Elland Road in 1974 at York Theatre Royal, kick-off 7.30pm.
Adapted from Yorkshireman David Peace’s biographical novel by Anders Lustgarten, The Damned United is a psychodrama that deconstructs Old Big ‘Ead’s 44 days as manager of Leeds United, whose Don Revie-tutored players he despised as much as they loathed him.
The double act of Luke Dickson’s flawed Clough and David Chafer’s avuncular Peter Taylor are joined by Jamie Smelt as everyone else in a story of sweat and booze, fury and power struggles, demons and defeats.
Festival of the month: York Festival of Ideas 2021, running until June 20
THIS year marks the tenth anniversary of York’s bright idea of a festival dedicated to educating, entertaining and inspiring.
Under the banner of Infinite Horizons to reflect the need to adapt to pandemic, the Festival of Ideas is presenting a diverse programme of more than 150 free online and in-person events.
The best idea, when needing more info on the world-class speakers, performances, family activities and walking trails, is to head to yorkfestivalofideas.com/2021/.
Outdoor play outside York announcement of the month: Hull Truck Theatre in Romeo & Juliet, Stage@The Dock, Hull, July 15 to August 7
AFTER John Godber Company’s Moby Dick completes its run at the converted Hull dry dockyard this Saturday, next comes Hull Truck Theatre’s al-fresco staging of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.
The title roles in Romeo & Juliet will be played by Hull-born husband and wife Jordan Metcalfe and Laura Elsworthy, who appeared in The Hypocrite and The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca in 2017 as part of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture celebrations.
Metcalfe and Elsworthy, who married in the summer of 2018 after bonding when working on The Hypocrite, will play a stage couple for the first time, performing on a traverse stage to emphasise Verona’s divided society. Box office: hulltruck.co.uk.
Looking ahead to the autumn: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights, York Theatre Royal, November 8 to 20
EMMA Rice’s Wise Children company is teaming up with the National Theatre, York Theatre Royal and the Bristol Old Vic for her elemental stage adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Yorkshire moorland story of love, vengeance and redemption.
In an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time shot through with music, dance, passion and hope, Rice’s company of performers and musicians will be led by Lucy McCormick’s Cathy.
“Emboldened and humbled by the enforced break, I feel truly lucky,” says Rice. “I cannot wait to get back to doing what I love most and to share this thrilling and important piece with the world. It’s time.”
Veterinary appointment in 2022: An Evening With Julian Norton, Pocklington Arts Centre, January 18
JULIAN Norton, author, veterinary surgeon and star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, will share amusing anecdotes from his work with animals in North Yorkshire, bringing to life all the drama and humour in the daily routine of a rural vet.
Following in the footsteps of James Herriot author Alf Wight, Norton has spent most of his working life in Thirsk. His latest book, All Creatures: Heart-warming Tales From A Yorkshire Vet, was published in March. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
HAPPY49th birthday today to Julian Norton, star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, who has a booking in the diary for January 18 2022 at Pocklington Arts Centre.
In An Evening With…show at 7.30pm, the Castleford-born author and veterinary surgeon will share amusing anecdotes from his work with animals in North Yorkshire, true stories that bring to life all the drama and humour in the daily routine of a rural vet.
Following in the footsteps of James Herriot author Alf Wight, Norton spent most of his working life at the Skeldale practice in Thirsk, before working in Boroughbridge and opening an independent vet practice in Wetherby.
This spring, he has returned to the North Yorkshire market town to open the Thirsk Veterinary Practice with his wife, fellow vet Anne, as a sister practice to Wetherby.
Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer says: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Julian Norton to PAC for what will be a fun and fascinating evening for fans of the hit TV series The Yorkshire Vet, animal lovers looking to be inspired, or simply those who want to share in Julian’s passion and commitment to his work.
“An Evening With Julian Norton follows two previous, highly popular shows at PAC by Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, so we know ticket are likely to sell fast.”
Norton has featured prominently in The Yorkshire Vet on Channel 5, now in its 12th series of recording the day-to-day work of vets in rural North Yorkshire.
Norton has written six books about his life as a vet. His latest, All Creatures: Heart-warming Tales From A Yorkshire Vet, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in March.
Tickets for An Evening With Julian Norton go on sale at £18.50 tomorrow (4/6/2021) at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
THE Roadmap route to recovery is becoming ever busier, like the roads into York. This has prompted Charles Hutchinson to resume his weekly, rather than fortnightly, eerie to spot what’s happening.
Exhibition launch of the week: Susan Brown, Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, until July 4
HUDDERSFIELD artist Susan Brown has returned to York Minster, one of her favourite locations for her architectural paintings, for her spring and summer show at Kentmere House Galllery, York.
Her artistic focus is on city life and our relationship with our environment, exploring the rhythm and movement within buildings and interiors, along with creating beautiful abstract paintings, inspired by still-life subjects and landscapes, with an emphasis on texture and pattern.
“Susan’s paintings are bold and striking, predominantly worked in watercolour and acrylic,” says gallery owner Ann Petherick. “The gallery is open anytime by prior arrangement or chance: you can ring 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 or email email@example.com, or just take pot luck by ringing the bell. Please ring in advance if travelling any distance.”
Kentmere House Gallery’s next open weekend will be on June 5 and 6, 11am to 5pm; the gallery has a weekly late-evening opening on Thursdays to 9pm.
Festival of the week: St Lawrence Trinity Festival, St Lawrence Parish Church, Lawrence Street, York, May 29 to June 5
A £410,000 restoration has perked up the 1885 Denman organ transferred from St Michael-le-Belfrey for installation by organ-building firm Nicholson & Co at St Lawrence Parish Church.
A celebratory festival programme will include a demonstration by Nicholson & Co ahead of the inaugural recital by Robert Sharpe, York Minster organist and director of music, on May 29 at 10.30am.
Further organ recitals will be performed by musicians associated with St Lawrence and the City of York: William Campbell, May 31, 4pm; David Norton, June 1, 4pm; St Lawrence director of music Jonty Ward, June 3, 4pm, and Timothy Hone, music and liturgy administrator at York Minster, June 4, 4pm. The Black Sheep Consort will give a 7pm recital on May 31.
Attendance is free, but booking is required for the Inaugural Recital at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hippest exhibition of the week in York: Yuppies Music presents Super Cool Drawing Machine, The Crescent, York, today (26/5/2021) until Sunday
YUPPIES Music’s touring exhibition of musicians’ “other” work, will run at The Crescent community venue for four days from today. This celebration of art created by international touring independent musicians is billed as a “much-needed exploration of fun stuff”, on show each day from 11am to 9pm with Covid-secure measures in place.
Under social distancing restrictions, attendees will have to book in advance, choosing a specific time slot to view the exhibition. Consequently, only a small number of tickets are available at £5 for each time slot at seetickets.com.
Among the artists will be will be trailblazing jazz saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings; Welsh singer/producer Cate Le Bon; experimental folk musician Richard Dawson; African-American experimentalist Lonnie Holley and drummer/composer Seb Rochford, plus members of This Is The Kit, Mammal Hands, Haiku Salut, Snapped Ankles and more besides.
Gig announcement of the week outside York: Ben Caplan, Pocklington Arts Centre, November 11, 8pm
CANADIAN folk-rock singer-songwriter Ben Caplan will play Pocklington on his European autumn tour.
His extensive itinerary will mark the tenth anniversary of his October 2011 debut, In The Time Of The Great Remembering, and will follow hot on the heels of Recollection, a retrospective collection of stripped back re-interpretations of songs from his back catalogue, out in October.
Venue manager James Duffy says: “I saw Ben perform at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2019 and was blown away. He has a fantastic stage presence and mixes a wonderful blend of musical styles from folk to gypsy through to rock. Imagine the love child of Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello and you’re getting somewhere close.”
Caplan’s support act will be fellow Canadian Gabrielle Papillon. Tickets are on sale at pocklingtonartscenytre.co.uk.
Premiere of the week ahead: Alan Ayckbourn’s 85th play, The Girl Next Door, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, June 4 to July 3
THE SJT’s first in-house production of 2021 will be director emeritus Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door, a lockdown love story.
Veteran actor Rob Hathaway is stuck at home during the summer of 2020 with only his sensible older sister for company. Rob has little to do but relive his glory days as fire-fighting wartime hero George “Tiger” Jennings in the nation’s favourite TV period drama, National Fire Service.
Then, one day, Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, when the neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?
“The Girl Next Door is an affirmation of love across the generations,” says Ayckbourn. “I hope it’s positive and hopeful for those today crawling out of their metaphorical Anderson shelters blinking into the light.”
Gig announcement for next year: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Citadel, Gillygate, York, February 25 2022
YORK singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich, now resident in Tottenham, London, will return to his home city to play The Citadel on his 26-date British and Irish tour next year.
The tour will follow the June 18 release of his fourth album, To Carry A Whale, on June 18 on the Dirty Hit label.
His first to be written and recorded entirely sober, it was made over four months last year at home, at Urchin Studios in Hackney, in a hotel room in Niagara and at a Southend studio owned by Sam Duckworth, of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Tickets are on sale at benjaminfrancisleftwich.com.
CANADIAN folk-rock singer-songwriter Ben Caplan will play Pocklington Arts Centre on November 11 on his European autumn tour.
His extensive itinerary will mark the tenth anniversary of his October 2011 debut, In The Time Of The Great Remembering, and will follow hot on the heels of Recollection, a retrospective collection of stripped back re-interpretations of songs from his back catalogue, out in October.
Pocklington Arts Centre venue manager James Duffy says: “I saw Ben perform at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2019 and was blown away, like the rest of the audience, with his performance.
“He has a fantastic stage presence and mixes a wonderful blend of musical styles from folk to gypsy through to rock. Imagine the love child of Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello and you’re getting somewhere close.”
Caplan, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, combines timeless melodies with a contemporary folk-rock twist, channelling wild abandon and quiet introspection in songs that evoke both the roar of the hurricane and the eye of the storm.
Caplan’s support act will be fellow Canadian Gabrielle Papillon, whose 2019 album, Shout, was propelled by equal parts synth, big pianos, and anger, “exploding in thoughtful, danceable art-pop anthems of uprising, hope and a delirious celebration of self”.
James says: “I’m delighted Gabrielle is accompanying Ben on this tour, as his support, as this enables PAC to introduce our audiences to another acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter.
“I first saw Gabrielle perform at a Music Nova Scotia showcase event, several years ago, and have followed her career ever since.”
Tickets for Caplan’s 8pm show are on sale at £12 at pocklingtonartscenytre.co.uk or £14 on the door.
WHAT’S the buzz? Tell me what’s-a-happening at Pocklington Arts Centre?
On World Bee Day (20/5/2021), director Janet Farmer was stung into action to say: “We thought there’s no better time to unveil the beehive we’ve installed on the roof.
“We’re a hive of activity, and not just because we’re preparing to re-open our doors to the public. It’s because we now have a rooftop beehive, along with solar panels and the beginnings of a rooftop garden, in the hope of playing a part in helping to save the bees.”
Explaining the decision, Janet says: “Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is committed to seeking ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint, while doing what we can to support the environment, so when one of our team mentioned he kept bees, we thought a hive would be the perfect addition to our flat roof, alongside our solar panels.
“We’re really excited to have installed the hive and are looking forward to seeing how it becomes established over the spring and summer months. Hopefully, we may even be in a position to produce our very own PAC honey soon!”
The avid amateur beekeeper in question is Paul Jennings, chair of PAC’s management team, who has gifted a hive from his Pocklington home to the Market Place venue.
“With every hive that is set up, you are giving bees a home, which is the important thing,” says Paul, who will be keeping an eye on the rooftop hive as it becomes established potentially with up to 10,000 bees.
“Every home you set up for bees to occupy is something that helps the environment, hence the decision to put a hive on the arts centre roof. Hopefully, we’ll get a resident hive of bees in there soon.”
World Bee Day, abuzz with activity yesterday, has been created by the United Nations with the aim of raising global public awareness around the importance of protecting and preserving bees and other pollinators.
Thirteen bee species have been lost since 1900 and as many as another 35 are on the threatened species list. The changes in seasonal weather are causing problems for bees in finding food and places to nest. What’s more, in the past 60 years, 97 per cent of our vital grasslands have been lost, meaning bees have lost some of their most precious habitats.
YORK artist Karen Winship’s poignant tribute to the selfless work of front-line NHS workers during the Covid-19 pandemic is on display at Hull Waterside & Marina until June 20.
Eleven of Karen’s NHS Heroes portraits were first shown at York Art Gallery in the Our Heroes Welcome thank-you to essential workers from August 1 when Lockdown 1 eased last summer.
Last August too, 13 more made their debut at City Screen, York, where the exhibition included a montage of all 24 that is being gifted to York Hospital by Karen, whose self-portrait of herself painting one of the NHS Heroes completes the collection.
The original paintings have been presented to the sitters, but the 24 portraits have been given a new life, reproduced on biodegradable boards for outdoor display by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) at a larger size than the originals.
First shown side by side on the railings at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, from late-November to January, the portrait prints have headed further east to Hull, where they can be viewed for free, thanks to PAC joining forces with the marina managers, Aquavista.
“I’ve had a great response to the portraits so far, so it’s incredible that Pocklington Arts Centre is now taking the exhibition on tour into the wider community,” says Karen, whose work also features in Portraits For NHS Heroes, a fund-raising book for NHS charities.
“It’s been such a challenging time for everyone, especially our NHS front-line workers, and this was my way of recognising everything they do for us, so it’s fantastic that this recognition can be expanded even further. Art doesn’t get much more accessible than an open-air exhibition.
“I’m delighted to see my portraits lining the railings along Hull Marina, which is a landmark in itself, and I hope the public enjoy them too.”
NHS Heroes is one of two pop-up touring exhibitions being taken into communities across the region by PAC. York artist Sue Clayton’s collection of 21 portraits celebrating children and young adults with Down Syndrome was unveiled last Tuesday at the NHS York Vaccination Centre, at Askham Bar, for browsing by those attending jab appointments in the “Tent of Hope” until June 13. Plans are being put in place for the “21” show to transfer to Hull Marina after Karen’s show closes.
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “Making our exhibitions accessible to the public despite the pandemic has been really important for us, and the feedback has been really positive, so we’re very much looking forward to enabling even more people to see these incredibly poignant portraits created by the talented Karen Winship.
“We think they will make for a striking display along the marina. Our thanks to Aquavista for helping to make this possible.”
Aquavista took over ownership of Hull Waterside & Marina last year and were only too keen to support PAC’s pop-up exhibition plans. Manager Graham Richardson says: “We’re delighted to support this fantastic initiative. The marina is a popular visitor destination, so we hope to see lots of people coming to view the portraits over the next few weeks.”
Karen, artist and educator, had begun her career as a graphic designer, later gaining a teaching degree and subsequently working for 15 years at a maximum-security prison as head of art.
Embarking on her journey as a professional artist in 2012, she is “living the dream” in her words, not least as a community-minded artist who enjoys “giving back” through her involvement in community art projects.
NHS Heroes is her latest public-spirited endeavour, this one inspired by Tom Croft’s #portraitsfornhsheroes project for artists to complete a free portrait in appreciation of the NHS for gifting to the worker depicted.
“There was a shout-out on Facebook across the country from Tom Croft, calling for artists to take part, and I was inundated with ten requests. Then I appeared on Look North and got even more,” says Karen.
“Tom Croft has now put together a book of 300 of the portraits, including one of mine, the one of Samantha, when she hasn’t got a mask on, but you can see all the creases on her face from the mask.
“Portraits For NHS Heroes is available in hardback on Amazon with all proceeds going to NHS charities.”
Among Karen’s portraits is one of her daughter, Kelly, who works for the NHS as an occupational therapist, bringing home the challenges faced by frontline workers in the pandemic. “I even had to do her portrait from photographs,” says Karen, to whom most of her subjects were unknown.
“They were a few people I know from York, but the photographs came from all over. Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Scotland. At first, I thought it might be difficult to work just from a photo, because I’m used to doing portraits from people sitting for me, but because these photographs were taken as they were working, looking into their eyes, you can see the trauma, the sadness, the exhaustion.
“Normally, you can see a sitter’s mouth, but invariably in these photographs the mouth had to be covered with a mask, so the eyes become even more important.”
Karen’s portraits were first “exhibited” informally. “My neighbours in my cul-de-sac [St Thomas Close in Osbaldwick] put them in their windows,” she recalls. “People even came from Beverley and Newcastle to walk down the street, and one told me their back story…and you then carry those stories with you.”
She found creating the NHS Heroes portraits “so intense”, she eventually had to stop. “I tend to work quickly because I like spontaneity,” says Karen. “Normally with portraits, I work from one sitting and then photos, but what was different with these portraits was that I was totally absorbed just in painting. Normally, we would be chatting at a sitting.
“I was exhausted, doing one after another from photographs. I just kept going until they were done. Afterwards, I immediately went on to do something that was colourful: a couple of autumn paintings, still lifes. I had to do something that was completely contrasting.
“And I’ve also been lucky that since the NHS project, I’ve had various commissions as I had to cut back on my teaching during the lockdowns.”
For more information on PAC’s forthcoming exhibitions, visit: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
YORK artist Sue Clayton has unveiled a specially commissioned painting of the “Tent Of Hope” at the NHS York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar.
Sue has picked out members of the Nimbuscare teams that work there to feature in the pen-and-wash work, joined on the canvas by the cat that makes daily visits to the site.
The work is on show in the tent that has administered 200,000 jabs, one in every 250 in Britain so far, with the full repertoire of Oxford/AstraZeneka, Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines available.
On view too for those attending a vaccine appointment is Sue’s portrait exhibition of children and young adults with Down Syndrome, entitled 21, presented in association with Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) until Sunday, June 13.
Nimbuscare’s director of quality and patient experience, Michelle Phillips, says: “It’s a huge privilege to have this very special art here at the Vaccination Centre. We’re especially delighted with the unique painting Sue has done for us. Thanks to everyone who has helped make it happen.”
Standing beside the painting, Michelle adds: “We wanted to encapsulate the feeling, the atmosphere, the experience, in the Tent of Hope, where we try to not make it feel like a factory production line, like a turkey on a conveyor belt, but instead make it very much about everyone playing their part in the community. That’s why we call it ‘the tent of hope’ because the vaccine has been the turning of the tide.
“We wanted to find a local artist to express their interpretation of that experience, and I found Sue through a mutual friend.
“She was immediately excited and even more so when we met to chat about what we wanted from the painting, what the vaccination centre means to us, and what a variety of people work here: from the foundation-year doctors, nurses, retired [medic] returnees and health-care assistants to ambulance staff, security services, volunteers from all walks of life, and the military services at the start. Sue has come up with an amazing piece of art.”
Sue takes up the story: “I believe the recommendation to Michelle came from Big Ian Donaghy – Ian was one of the six York Heroes I painted in 2018 – making a nice full circle celebrating our heroes,” she says.
The commission brief was “quite open”, being left to her interpretation. “I immediately felt it should be a joyous watercolour; I wanted something almost whimsical…a definite celebration piece,” she says.
“It was important to me to try to represent a member from each team that works there: the volunteers, marshals, nurses, doctors, army medics, plus a whole host more.
“It was also important to speak to staff about what they felt about working there and I also spoke to friends about their feelings when visiting the tent.”
Sue enjoys the “quirky side” too. “That’s why the little black-and-white cat who visits the tent site each day is there, as is the much-appreciated tea trolley for the staff,” she says.
“The finished piece shows the tent, celebratory rainbow-coloured splashes festooning the blue sky, and we see a little vignette of a vaccinator at work and various personnel, all socially distanced, of course! It’s a pen-and-wash piece with the pen purposefully relaxed, almost in a ‘wibbly-wobbly’ fashion to add a sense of fun.”
The accompanying 21 exhibition was presented previously on the railings of All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, from March 19 to April 19 and comes a year after Sue held her studio show, Downright Marvellous At Large, at PAC, giant pair of hand-knitted odd socks and all.
Sue, a portrait artist with a vibrant colour palette and a social purpose, chose the theme of 21, not only to mark World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 but also to symbolise the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have, her energetic son James among them.
“The PAC initiative of holding the outdoor exhibition was just so perfect, Covid-safe, free to access and inclusive, and it was a huge success on its first showing in Pocklington town centre,” says Sue.
“There was such a great reaction. I’ve had people sending in photos of themselves by the portraits. It was brilliant to be sent photos of the models themselves, by their portraits.
“I know for many families it became a trip out – it was great that there was an ice-cream parlour at the end of the exhibition! I had a very proud moment with my kids as I heard some lovely comments from passers-by, discussing the portraits with no knowledge that I had painted them.”
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “We always enjoy working with Sue on staging her striking exhibitions at PAC, so it’s been absolutely fantastic to be able to continue sharing her inspirational work with the public in the midst of the pandemic by taking the exhibition outdoors.
“It’s been brilliant to see so many people enjoying the opportunity to engage with art at this time, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with many more people as we bring the exhibition to the NHS York Vaccination Centre.”
The 21 posterboards are all-weather and ideal for transferring to other locations, hence Sue and Pocklington Arts Centre’s shared enthusiasm for touring the exhibition after the reaction to the Pocklington run.
“The idea to bring it to the Vaccination Centre came about just in conversation with Michelle really: a lovely correlation of discussing when I would present the commission piece and me saying I would love to show ’21’ in York, if only I could think of a venue. A lightbulb moment!” says Sue.
“When Sue offered us the 21 exhibition, we jumped at the opportunity,” says Michelle. “There’s so much colour in the portraits, and the way they have transformed the tent is amazing.”
Among the 21 portraits is Andrew, the son of a Nimbuscare vaccinator, lead nurse Theresa Ollerenshaw. “I’ve known Sue since Andrew was a baby and she’s been doing inspiring art ever since I’ve known her,” she says.
“She’s spreading awareness of Down Syndrome, and so many people are going to see these portraits when ordinarily they wouldn’t. I love how they capture young people enjoying life. It’s going to be very strange coming in and seeing Andrew whenever I’m in here!”
“Andrew was one of the new pen and ink portraits I did in lockdown,” says Sue. “With Andrew having beautiful Titian red hair, I just wanted to capture that, and it’s been a joy to be able to sit down and do these portraits, listening to BBC Sounds.”
Now, two new options are in the pipeline for 21. “Hopefully, Hull Waterside & Marina and Bradford…so far,” says Sue. “More immediately, a short video of the exhibition is going to be featured in a pop-up art show at Kirkgate Market in Leeds.
“I was absolutely blown away by the positive feedback I received in Pocklington, so I’m really excited about now taking it to other venues so that many more people can browse the portraits and join me in celebrating young people with Down Syndrome at work and play.
“My son James, who’s a huge inspiration for me, turned 18 in lockdown, so this was the perfect time to put this exhibition together and I hope it brings a lot of joy to people after what has been such a challenging time for so many.”
Six questions for York artist Sue Clayton on vaccine jabs, new projects, art classes, lockdown and life after June 21.
Your Tent Of Hope painting features the Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar. Did you have your jab there?
“I’ve now had both jabs as I’m classed as a carer because my son, James, has Down Syndrome. We had ours at the Haxby Group practice, although I did support my mum on both occasions to the Askham Bar site…it was that first sight of the gleaming white domes that stays in my mind.”
Did you find going for the first jab emotional?
“On my own jab, I didn’t feel too emotional, but the first time I took my mum, I did. She was nervous and is hard of hearing, so I was pleased to go in with her for support.
“I felt the same again, supporting James for his jab. He’s had to shield and it really felt like a positive step forward. The feeling of now having both jabs gives us a reassurance we’ve never felt before.”
How are your art projects progressing: when might we see the results?
“Oohhh…I’m on with an exciting new project, which came about from a conversation on a park bench in the Museum Gardens. I was having a chat with Michael Miles, who’s a lifelong York City fan and creates the Y-Front fanzine.
“Although not a follower of football myself, he held me captivated as he talked about his love for his team and what Bootham Crescent meant to him. One of those conversations where someone’s passion for something sparks your own interest to listen to them.
“I also learned that York City Football Club celebrates its centenary next year. So, a plan has come together: I’m painting a series of portraits of the fans to be revealed all together next year. The fans are sending me their photos and I’ll be including many through the years. I’m loving it!
“Also, excitedly, I hope to collaborate with Tony Cope. His photography is just exquisite and I’m a huge fan. He captures such a poignancy and feeling in his work. Watch this space.”
How are the art classes you lead online going?
“They’re going well. I love that I now have people tuning in each week from all over the UK and the Netherlands too! It’s interesting that this time last year I panicked about using this new-fangled Zoom ‘whatdoyacallit’ and now I’m reticent to return to face-to-face teaching as it suits me so well.”
If you could sum up your life in Lockdown x 3 in five words, what would they be?
“Lockdown 3 has been the hardest in many ways for me. I was devastated that my relationship ended, and as we came out of lockdown, I lost my lovely dog to cancer – so, not the best of times.
“My five words? Sadness, loss but new beginnings.”
What do you most want to be able to do after “freedom day” on June 21(hopefully!)?
“If it’s safe to do so, I’m looking forward to giving people hugs again. I’m naturally quite tactile and, boy, I’ve missed contact with people. I’m looking forward to seeing live gigs, theatre, cinema, and meals out again too.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will go down in the woods on July 1 and 8 to present Primrose Wood Acoustics, two outdoor concerts at twilight in a beautiful Pocklington sylvian setting.
Virtuoso Scunthorpe-born guitarist and singer-songwriter Martin Simpson will headline the first 7pm event at Primrose Wood, supported by Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer.
A week later, the second twilight session will feature Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and opening act Rachel Croft, the York singer-songwriter.
The acoustic concerts are being staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after a series of online events and outdoor exhibitions by York artists Karen Winship and Sue Clayton held during the pandemic.
Primrose Wood Acoustics not only will mark the first time PAC has taken concerts into the outdoors – giving audiences a chance to experience live music within a unique and Covid-secure setting – but also will be the first concerts to be hosted by the East Yorkshire venue since the first lockdown last March.
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “During the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of walking in the Pocklington area including Primrose Wood. With its natural clearings and proximity to the town centre, we immediately thought it would provide the perfect outdoor stage with a difference, so the idea of Primrose Wood Acoustics was born.
“As we prepare to re-open the venue, we’re very much looking forward to being able to bring some truly unique events to our audiences. This is going to be something quite special.”
Martin Simpson travels the length and breadth of Britain and beyond to give intimate solo performances full of passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majestic fingerstyle guitar playing.
Simpson, 68, who recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, is equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions on acoustic and slide guitar and banjo to boot.
Support act Katie Spencer writes songs imbued with the northern landscapes of her Yorkshire home and the warmth and idealism of the early 1970s’ folk and songwriter movements. Originally from Hull, she draws on the grainy imagery of the industrial docks and sea-fronts in her deeply personal songs of nostalgia, loss and love.
The Dunwells, formed by brothers Joseph and David Dunwell in Leeds in 2009, combine heartfelt lyrics with American-influenced indie-folk song structures, as heard on their 2012 debut album, Blind Sighted Faith, and six subsequent albums and EPs.
The Dunwells have performed at both PAC and Platform Festival, at Pocklington’s Old Station, and have toured the United States extensively, not least appearing at SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. They last released a studio album, Something In The Water, in September 2019, followed by the live recording Live At Aire Street last December.
Support act Rachel Croft’s song-writing is cinematic, moody and classic, wherein atmospheric backdrops frame her vocals as she blends folk, rock and soul styles.
Rachel’s new EP, Reap What You Sow, will drop this summer, exploring a more potent, bluesy style.
Concertgoers can access the location from both main entrances to Primrose Wood via Burnby Lane and The Balk, with the concerts being staged close to the Burnby Lane (YO42 2QB) entrance.
Tickets cost £15 for July 1 and £12.50 for July 8 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
CharlesHutchPress puts questions to York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft as she prepares for the twilight hour in Primrose Wood.
Where and when did you last play a gig?
“The last real gig was at Highfield House in Driffield, back in October 2020 – a lone event I was lucky enough to share with Blair Dunlop and Gary Stewart. Before that, I think it was last March, sharing the night with Joe Shepard at the NCEM in York.”
Have you played in woodland previously?
“I haven’t played a gig as such in a woodland but I’ve recorded and performed in a few woodlands for music videos. Really atmospheric!
“Only Dreams had woodland in it, and the new video for Reap What You Sow, directed by James Buck, will have a part shot in woodland too.”
What do you feel about playing at the twilight hour: a magical time of day or a harbinger of the dark night to come?!
“Playing outdoors in the twilight hour sounds just right for some of my songs. I like to write atmospheric music, and I think this will be the perfect setting to finally share them with people!
“I think sunset can be a nostalgic time in a way, thinking about the day that’s done and the start of night. Certainly, it could add to the moodiness of some of my songs too.”
You have a new EP on the way, Reap What You Sow. When and how will you release it?
“The EP is due this summer. I’ll stagger a single and then the rest of the songs later on in the season, along with videos and live performances hopefully. We’re still finishing them, so once we have them completed, I can set a date and get cracking. I’m really excited to share these songs; they’re my best work so far. Stay tuned!”
Where and when was the EP recorded?
“It was recorded here in York, at Young Thugs Studios [in South Bank Social Club, Ovington Terrace], and has been ongoing for probably six months now, what with so much uncertainty and all my usual funding methods gone, which made things interesting!
“All the musicians on the tracks are from around here and I’m really lucky to know so many talented people.”
What are the song titles and themes and were any influenced by pandemic times?
“I’m keeping the song titles on the down-low for now, except Reap What You Sow, the title track and first single. There are five songs, though, and as a collection they represent a storm, sort of. The build-up, the energy, the wreckage left behind, and then the rebuild, leaving it behind.
“All the songs are from the lockdown, and I think they helped me to release a lot of pent-up frustration and emotion. I’ve never felt that, until this point, I’ve really released anything that shows the most of me, not just one side.
“It feels really liberating; I’ve always loved music like this but never before felt like I could be that artist. And then, well, it was the pandemic, so I thought I might as well have a go.”
The EP will “explore a more potent, bluesy style”: how will that manifest itself and what has drawn you to the blues?
“The bluesy style is mainly in two of the songs, where I was playing with some different chord variations and was influenced a lot by cinema, film music, and the jazz music I play with the Croft Mullen Band here in York [in a residency at The Phoenix Inn, George Street], alongside writing my own music.
“It’s been really nice to bridge that gap between styles. It’s got a lot of electric sounds in it too, but I love the vintage Nancy Sinatra feel of parts of the songs, how that weirdly works with quite fierce guitars at points.
“I’ve also started using my lower voice more in the songs, which I think really suits this change of sound. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
What have you discovered about yourself in lockdown?
“I have learned that by having all the joyful distraction taken away, I can be more productive with song-writing. I can choose to sit down, and write, if I try. I never thought I could do that before lockdown. It’s been a great time for my music; I’ve never written so much, but maybe that’s because music seems to come easiest when you’re not totally happy.”
What else is in the diary for you for 2021? Hopefully more shows?
“I’ll be playing at Wickham Festival [Hampshire], Lindisfarne Festival [Northumberland], Northern Kin Festival [Stanhope, Bishop Auckland] and Beverley Fringe, all going well, and I’ve got a few concerts booked here in York and further afield that I’m looking forward to announcing to my socials soon! I’m just happy to get to play to real actual humans again!”
NEWS JUST IN: 14/5/2021
RACHEL Croft will open series two of the acoustic Songs Under Skies concerts in a double bill with Wounded Bear in the National Centre for Early Music gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, on June 1. Gates, 6.30pm; socially distanced concert, 7pm to 8.30pm. Box office: tickets.ncem.co.uk.