What can we learn from ants? Find answers online via Scarborough Museums Trust

Artist Feral Practice researching in the field. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

QUESTION of the day: What can we learn from ants?

Artists and naturalists will come together on Zoom on January 19 from 7pm to 9pm to  address this fascinating question in Ask The Ants.

In an event organised by Scarborough Museums Trust, designed to complement Scarborough Art Gallery’s ongoing exhibition, The Ant-ic Museum, artists Feral Practice and Marcus Coates will discuss what ants can teach us about our anthropological world in the company of ant ecologies specialist Dr Elva Robinson and natural world author Charlotte Sleigh.

Subverting a Gardeners’ Question Time format, the panel will draw on their specialist knowledge of ants to answer questions from the audience about human society. “Seeing our entrenched issues or thorny problems through the unusual position of the ant world opens up unexpected pathways of creative thinking for everyday life,” says the Scarborough Museums Trust literature.

Online attendees can submit questions in advance via https://bit.ly/AskTheAnts or ask it on the day. Questions can vary from the political and societal to the deeply personal. They should not be questions about ants, however!

An exhibit at The Ant-ic Museum exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

The January 19 event is part of Ask The Wild, a collaborative project by Feral Practice and Marcus Coates that offers fresh perspectives on personal, social and political issues in human society by bringing expert knowledge of natural history disciplines to bear on everyday human problems and dilemmas. Previous events include Ask The Sea at Tate St Ives, Cornwall, and Ask The Birds at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Feral Practice’s Fiona MacDonald is an artist, curator and writer who specialises in human-nonhuman relationships, creating art projects that “develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries”.

Performance artist, writer and filmmaker Marcus Coates seeks to draw parallel in his work through “examining how we perceive ‘human-ness’ in imagined non-human realities”.

Elva Robinson, senior lecturer in Ecology at the University of York, conducts research on the wood ants of the North York Moors. Her book Wood Ant Ecology And Conservation was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Charlotte Sleigh is a researcher, writer and practitioner whose work is spread across the science humanities. Her research interests began in the history of biology and now have an emphasis on animals, and she is the author of Ant (Reaktion, 2003) and Six Legs Better: A Cultural History Of Myrmecology (Johns Hopkins, 2007).  

Tickets for Ask The Ants are free and can be booked via Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ask-the-ants-tickets-207822040317

Work from The Ant-ic Museum exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

‘Sand is running out all over the world’… ‘Climate change will bells on’…Cue Emma Gibson’s Quicksand sculpture triptych

Installation artist Emma Gibson on Scarborough’s South Bay beach with maquettes of her large sculptures of grains of sand , soon to be on show at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

EMMA Gibson’s upcoming Quicksand exhibition aims to raise awareness of “one of our most under-appreciated natural commodities”.

On show at Scarborough Art Gallery from February 12 to June 5, Gibson’s triptych of sculptures transforms minuscule grains of sand into megalithic forms, putting this endangered but seemingly ubiquitous material – used to make anything from phone screens to windows, from plastics to paint ­– under the microscope.

Applying micro-3D scanning technology, Gibson worked with the Imaging and Analysis Centre at the Natural History Museum, London, to discover the otherworldly shapes of individual sand grains before recasting them as colossal forms.

Each piece was made using recycled plaster and clay, timber and a pioneering resin made from recycled plastic bottles that have been redirected from landfill and the oceans.

Simon Hedges, head of curation, exhibitions and collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “Sand is running out all over the world – it’s a global problem; it’s climate change with bells on. It may be difficult to believe, but sand is limited – and it’s critical as a commodity for so many types of technology.

Emma Gibson holding a maquette of one of her grain-of-sand sculptures. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“It’s estimated that, for construction alone, the world consumes roughly 40 to 50 billion tons of sand on an annual basis. That way outstrips the rate at which sand is being naturally replenished by the weathering of rocks by wind and water.”

As a museum in a coastal setting, Scarborough Art Gallery “feels it’s our responsibility to help raise awareness of this issue,” says Hedges. “Emma’s sculptures are a particularly stunning way of doing that. Three giant grains of sand, each over a metre tall, have been created after being magnified nearly 3,000 times,” he continues.

“They represent just three of the many different types of sand there are – a fossil foraminifera, a rolled-up piece of quartz and a chip from a shell.”

Gibson says: “Quicksand is about assumptions in relation to perceptions: we assume that there is the same amount of sand available as stars in the sky. People say: ‘Can’t you just use sand from the Sahara to build stuff? We’ve got loads of sand.’ But you can’t because it’s wind-blown and all the grains are circular.

“I started reading all these strange documents about people stealing sand because it’s a seriously valuable commodity. Some go to the beach to sunbathe; others turn up in the middle of the night in a truck to take the sand away. There are people getting murdered over sand, it’s really serious.”

Emma Gibson’s sculptures of grains of sand arrive in Scarborough for exhibiting at Scarborough Art Gallery from February 12. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Explaining her creative process, Gibson says: “Grains of sand are really tiny, so I wanted to explore how I could make them important to humans at their own scale.

“I’m hoping people will have some kind of murmuration – just a little moment in their minds where they recalibrate their belief system in nature and technology, and what their purposes are. Maybe it can offer an altered perspective and state of mind for a moment.”

Alongside the sculptures, Gibson will be re-creating her studio in Scarborough Art Gallery. “I’ll be showing films, digital and physical models and supporting materials as part of the development process of the work, which is as much about the science as the aesthetic,” she says.

Gibson will create a learning experience that will lay out globally significant issues in an inclusive and approachable space.

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning team is devising hands-on learning experiences for primary-school children, in collaboration with geologist Dr Liam Herringshaw, including a Beach in a Box, to “bring an important part of the curriculum to life in new and engaging ways”. 

” I’m hoping people will have some kind of murmuration – just a little moment in their minds where they recalibrate their belief system in nature and technology,” says artist Emma Gibson . Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Co-curated with theYorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, Quicksand has been gifted to Scarborough Museums Trust by Selfridges & Co, where it was first exhibited in The Art Block gallery, in London, in 2020.

Emma Gibson: the back story

BORN in 1980, this British installation artist explores the uncertain state of reality. She studied at Open School East and the University of the Arts in London and now lives and works in the Scottish Highlands.

Gibson’s large-scale installation works are the result of both traditional and technological making processes, often using 3D-scanning and digital representations to create physical sculptures and total environments. Regularly, she collaborates with scientists in her fields of interest.

Her creative practice revolves around coastlines and shores as a metaphor for the edge of reality, the end of the internet and a loss of control – a place “where science and nature collide and mimic each other, where so much is unknown, where human intervention can go no further”. 

Scarborough Art Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Mondays, plus on Bank Holidays. Entry is free with a £3 annual pass that allows unlimited free entry to the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough, too.

Something fishy will haunt Scarborough Art Gallery visitors on reopening from May 18

Scarborough Museums Trust documentation assistant Ela Bochenek with an item from the Animal Hauntings exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery from May 18. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

ANIMAL Hauntings will take over Scarborough Art Gallery from May 18 to September 22, led by a tunny fish.

The exhibition combines film and objects from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection to ask what, in times of environmental uncertainty, we can learn from the ghosts of animals past in order to create more solid future relationships with the natural world.

Among those objects will be a tunny fish that was a favourite exhibit for many in a former life when the gallery’s neighbour, Woodend, was a natural history museum, together with examples of taxidermy, such as a pair of the now-extinct passenger pigeon, and equipment used by the “climmers” that once abseiled down Yorkshire’s East Coast cliffs in search of seabird eggs.

Tunny fishing and climming are the subject of two films from the Yorkshire Film Archive that form part of the exhibition, alongside moving images by artist Fiona Tan and exhibition curator and artist Martha Cattell.

Martha says: “The exhibition is inspired by Woodend’s past as a natural history museum, and by the book Arts Of Living On a Damaged Planet: Ghosts And Monsters Of The Anthropocene, an anthology of work by 20 eminent writers.

“Humans have long been fascinated with and reliant on non-human animals for food, transport, clothing and as pets. We are haunted by past connections to animals and many of the objects within the collection reflect this.

The full-size model of a tunny fish, cast from the original, that will be a star of the Scarborough Museums Trust collection on show in Animal Hauntings at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“With more than 35,500 species threatened with extinction, this exhibition uses objects and moving image to highlight the entangled relationships between animals and humans, and offers ways of looking with animals, and not just at them.”

Scarborough Museums Trust will run a series of events inspired by the exhibition, to be announced on its website and social media channels in the coming weeks.

Animal Hauntings will run alongside two more exhibitions at Scarborough Art Gallery over the same dates: Scarborough: Our Seaside Town and Laughton’s Legacies.

The venue has been awarded VisitEngland ‘s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying adherence to government and public health guidance on Covid-19. All three exhibitions are on the ground floor and are fully wheelchair-accessible.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery is by annual pass, whose £3 cost gives unlimited entry to both the gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year.

Opening hours at Scarborough Art Gallery are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays.

More Things To Do in York, beyond and at home as Step 2 on the roadmap nears. List No. 30, courtesy of The Press, York

York actor-writer Anna Soden in rehearsal for Strawberry Lion’s streamed performance of E Nesbit’s Five Children And It

ROLL on Monday and Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap to recovery, when outdoor hospitality can resume and zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and libraries can re-open.

Charles Hutchinson casts an eye over what’s on and what’s next.

Strawberry Lion’s show poster for Five Children And It

Children’s stream of the week: Strawberry Lion in Five Children And It, via Explore York libraries

YORK company Strawberry Lion’s streamed production of E Nesbit’s novel Five Children And It can be viewed for free on @YorkExplore’s YouTube channel daily until April 14 at 5pm.

Suitable for children aged five and over, the show is written and performed by York actor, musician, writer, theatre-maker and company founder Anna Soden, who has set Nesbit’s 1902 story with the grumpy magical creature on Scarborough beach.

Sailing Hopefully, by Jack Hellewell, from Jack’s Travels at Kentmere House Gallery, York, from next Monday

Exhibition launch of the week ahead: Jack Hellewell: Jack’s Travels, Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, from April 12

CURATOR Ann Kentmere is toasting Roadmap Step 2 Day by reopening Kentmere House Gallery on April 12 with Jack Travels, the first in a lockdown-delayed series of exhibitions to celebrate the centenary of the late Bradford artist Jack Hellewell.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Ann and David Petherick’s gallery in their York home, and Hellewell’s show will be open every day from April 12 to 17, 11am to 5pm, with extended opening to 9pm next Thursday, before Ann resumes her regular opening hours on the first weekend of each month and Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm. Or you can just ring the bell on the off-chance.

York Dungeon: Heading out into York’s haunted streets for a walking tour

Walking tour launch of the month ahead: The York Dungeon, from April 16

THE York Dungeon will spring its “frighteningly fun but family-friendly” walking tour on this socially distanced haunted city from next Friday.

Taking The York Dungeon above ground on Fridays to Sundays, guests will be led on a tour of hair-raising historic locations by two of the Clifford Street visitor attraction’s most/least loved characters, who will tell horrible tales of York’s murkiest, darkest history,  wrapped up in suspense and surprises. Start times will be throughout each day; tickets must be pre-booked at thedungeons.com/york/.

Ela Bochenek, documentations assistant for Scarborough Museums Trust, with Bathers In Sunlight by Zdzislaw Ruszkowski , on show at Scarborough Art Gallery in Scarborough: Our Seaside Town, from next month

A day by the sea but inside a gallery: Scarborough: Our Seaside Town, Scarborough Art Gallery, May 18 to September 12

SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s summertime exhibition will look at life in a seaside town, as seen through the eyes of local people. 

Curator Esther Lockwood interviewed team members from Scarborough Museums Trust, asking for their personal views and recollections of life by the sea year-round before selecting items from the trust’s extensive collections.

These will include an early 20th century ice cream cart that once operated on Scarborough’s South Bay beach; the East Coast resort’s Pancake Bell, rung to signal the start of the unique tradition of skipping on the seafront on Shrove Tuesday, and other seaside ephemera, paintings, vintage photographs and postcards.

Kinky Sex, Grayson Perry’s first plate, now among the “lost pots” brought together for his Pre-Therapy Years exhibition at CoCA, York

Missing Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4 already? Head to Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

GRAYSON Perry’s lockdown-delayed “lost pots” exhibition at York Art Gallery’s Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) will open at last next month.

This touring show is the first celebration of Perry’s earliest forays into the art world, re-assembling the explosive and creative works the Chelmsford-born artist, author and television presenter made between 1982 and 1994.

“It’s as near as I will ever get to meeting myself as a young man, an angrier, priapic me with huge energy but a much smaller wardrobe,” says Perry.

SpongeBob The Musical: Pick Me Up Theatre have acquired the rights for a winter production in York

Audition opportunity: Pick Me Up Theatre, SpongeBob The Musical, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York

YORK company Pick Me Up Theatre are to stage SpongeBob The Musical from December 7 to 18 at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York.

Director Robert Readman and musical director Sam Johnson will hold auditions there in July and August for performers aged 15 to 23 and actor-musicians for the Bikini Bottom Band.

Anyone interested is asked to email pickmeuptheatre@gmail.com for an audition form.

Del Amitri: First album in 19 years and first York Barbican gig after the same hiatus

Gig announcement of the week in York: Del Amitri, York Barbican, September 18

DEL Amitri will follow up the May 28 release of their seventh studio album, Fatal Mistakes, with a September 18 gig at York Barbican.

Justin Currie’s Glaswegian band last played the Barbican in May 2002, the year they released their last album, Can You Do Me Good?.

Greatest hits and new material will combine in a set supported by The Bryson Family. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (9/4/2021) at 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

John Spiers, left, and Jon Boden: Pocklington Arts Centre gig in October for the former Bellowhead cornerstones

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Spiers & Boden, Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC), October 20, 8pm

AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together and not only working on new material, but also bringing a live performance to Pock in the autumn. 

John Spiers, 46, and Jon Boden, 44, were the driving forces in big folk band Bellowhead, who played a glorious headline set at PAC’s Platform Festival at The Old Station, Pocklington, in July 2015. Tickets cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Recollections and collections to combine for Our Seaside Town exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery from May 18

Tim Knight, from Scarborough Museums Trust, on the DePlacido’s Ice Cream tricycle cart , one of the items from the upcoming exhibition Scarborough: Our Seaside Town at Scarborough Art Gallery. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s summertime exhibition will look at life in a seaside town. as seen through the eyes of Scarborough people. 

Curated by Esther Lockwood, Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will run from Tuesday, May 18 to Sunday, September 12.

Esther interviewed team members from Scarborough Museums Trust, asking for their personal views and recollections of life by the sea year-round before selecting items from the trust’s extensive collections.

An early 20th century traditional deckchair from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection

These will include an early 20th century ice cream cart that once operated on Scarborough’s South Bay beach; the East Coast resort’s Pancake Bell, rung to signal the start of the unique tradition of skipping on the seafront on Shrove Tuesday, and other seaside ephemera, paintings, vintage photographs and postcards.

A clifftop diorama will provide the backdrop to a display of seabirds from the trust’s taxidermy collection, complete with smells.

Esther says: “I hope this exhibition will help the collections to be seen afresh through the eyes of the people who work at Scarborough Museums Trust.

Ela Bochenek, documentation assistant at Scarborough Museums Trust, with Bathers In Sunlight, by Zdzislaw Ruszkowski (1978), part of Scarborough Art Gallery’s Scarborough: Our Seaside Town exhibition from May 18.

“Their thoughts and memories are the lens for interpretation, and their voice is prominent, rather than the more traditional curator’s voice, meaning that visitors can enjoy familiar objects in a slightly different way.

“I hope this will spark intergenerational conversation and encourage visitors to share their own reminiscences and recollections of living or visiting Scarborough.”

Exhibition visitors will be encouraged to contribute by sharing stories, memories, photos, videos and more besides on social media, using the hashtag #OurSeasideTown. The posts then will appear on a social media wall in the gallery.

A Scarborough brochure, circa 1950s, from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection

Simon Hedges, head of curation, exhibitions and collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “Scarborough: Our Seaside Town is about immersing yourself in a memory, not just the object or image but also the sounds and the smells: a trigger to a different time and place.

“Our recreation of the 1950s’ museum diorama has not only the sound of the nesting birds of Bempton Cliffs, but that very distinctive smell awaits you as well.”

Scarborough Art Gallery has been awarded the VisitEngland We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying adhetence to Government and public health guidance with regard to Covid-19. 

Scarborough Museums Trust operations assistant Charlotte Munday with a clifftop diorama, showing East Coast seabirds, in the Scarborough: Our Seaside Town exhibition

Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will be exhibited on the ground floor and will be fully wheelchair accessible. Visitors for the foreseeable future will be asked to book a slot via the trust’s website at scarboroughmuseumstrust.com. Details will be posted shortly.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery is by annual pass at a cost of £3 that gives unlimited entry to both the gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year. Once the gallery reopens under lockdown easement measures, opening hours will be 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays.

Detail from a 1931 map of Scarborough by Edward Bawden, from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection

Vintage Sitwell photographs at Woodend donated to Scarborough Museums Trust

Andrew Clay, chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, with archive material donated by William Sitwell in the Sitwell Library at Woodend, Scarborough. Picture: Tony Bartholomew.

UNIQUE vintage photographs depicting Woodend, in its days as the private Scarborough summer home of the Sitwell literary family, have been donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by a descendant, journalist William Sitwell.

William is the grandson of writer Sacheverell Sitwell, who, together with brother Osbert and sister Edith, spent many summers at the house in The Crescent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The most famous of the three siblings, William’s great-aunt Edith, was born at Woodend in 1887. William writes for The Daily Telegraph, among other publications, and is a judge on BBC1’s MasterChef.

The Sitwell conservatory at Woodend, Scarborough, in the late 19th or early 20th century. Copyright: Scarborough Museums Trust

When clearing out family belongings, he came across photos that show Woodend, now a creative industries centre, in its heyday as a family home, with a spacious entrance hall, busy living rooms and a palm-filled glasshouse.

William Sitwell says: “I’ve visited Scarborough on many occasions and have always relished a trip to Woodend, now a creative hub run by a collection of talented people my ancestors would be proud of.

“But it’s always strange walking around a museum and wondering what it must have been like as a home, with the presence of my eccentric forebears. When I came across these old photographs, the settings looked familiar and then I realised they were of Woodend, fully furnished and looking very Victorian.

The Sitwell conservatory today, now the Woodend Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“I knew at once that they should be sent to Andrew Clay [chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust], who would cherish them and share them with visitors. They bring a wonderful insight to a lost era.”

Clay says: “The vintage photographs of Woodend are delightful. We have often wondered what these rooms looked like when the Sitwell family lived here and now we have a tantalising glimpse of Woodend in that era.

“It is fascinating to see the beautiful furnishings that once adorned these spaces. They conjure up a long-lost age of elegance and remind us today how sophisticated life on The Crescent really was. We are very grateful to William Sitwell for making this gift and we look forward to keeping in touch.”

Scarborough Museums Trust’s venues – Scarborough Art Gallery, the Rotunda Museum and the Woodend Gallery – are closed during Lockdown 3, but the trust hopes to be able to put the photographs on public display as soon as possible.

Another room at Woodend, from the Sitwell archive material donated to Scarborough Museums Trust by William Sitwell

Spooky weekend and drawing festival are Scarborough’s big draws for half-term

Emma Hallam, associate marketing manager for Scarborough Museums Trust, sketches out a few ideas ahead of The Big Draw 2020 at Scarborough Art Gallery during the half-term holiday. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

SPOOKY goings-on for Halloween and climate-conscious art are on offer from Scarborough Museums Trust for half-term.

The Spooky Museum Weekend runs amok from Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 1 at the Rotunda Museum, when visitors are invited to explore the museum in Halloween fancy dress from 10am to 4pm each day.

The spooky weekend is suitable for families, who can follow the trail and make and take a deer or wolf mask inspired by the trust’s Star Carr headdress. 

Booking is essential, either by calling 01723 353665 or emailing rotunda@smtrust.uk.com to book a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery. 

Drawing you in: Emma Hallam’s handiwork seeks to catch your eye to take part in The Big Draw 2020 at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

The Spooky Star Carr Trail can be enjoyed every day during half-term except Monday. Families are invited to join the wolf tribe and look for the wolves hidden in the Rotunda. “Crack the puzzle and enter our prize draw,” says the trust.

The half-term events include two that form part of this year’s Big Draw, Britain’s annual festival of drawing. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, The Big Green Draw Festival #ClimateOfChange focuses on the relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems, highlighting how we live today and the ways we do and do not harmonise with nature.

The Big Green Draw: Plant, Grow, Draw! at Scarborough Art Gallery on Monday, October 26, from 10am to 4pm, invites you to be inspired by the trust’s seed collection to create your own drawings. “Have a go at decorating a plant pot and sow a seed to take home and grow,” says the trust.

Again suitable for families, booking is essential for this activity on 01723 374753 or by emailing gallery@smtrust.uk.com for a 45-minute slot for a group of up to six people. Each allotted time slot allows exclusive use of the gallery for this relaxed event, fully accessible for disabled and non-disabled children.

Picture this: Emma Hall does some canvas work to attract support for The Big Draw 2020. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

On Saturday, October 24 and 31, you can tune into The Big Green Draw: Drawing with Nature on the trust’s YouTube Channel at 10am to take part in online drawing challenges inspired by the natural world. To join in this pre-recorded event, suitable for families, you will need drawing materials, scissors and glue.

The Big Green Scavenger Trail will take place every day during half-term, except Monday, at Scarborough Art Gallery and The Crescent. To hunt for wildlife on The Crescent in a special scavenger trail designed by artist Savannah Storm, families will need to pick up a copy from Scarborough Art Gallery.

Scarborough Museums Trust’s learning manager, Christine Rostron, says: “We’re delighted to be able to offer some socially-distanced events for our families, alongside some online challenges.  Our Halloween and Big Draw activities are always so popular and we can’t wait to see families and children back in our venues for lots of creative fun!”

Staff at Scarborough Museums Trust have been trained in post-lockdown safety procedures, and the trust has been awarded VisitEngland’s We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying the venues’ adherence to Government and public health guidance.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery and the Rotunda Museum for adults costs £3 for an annual pass; for under-18s, entry is free. For all activities, all children must be accompanied by an adult. Both venues are open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm.

Joanna Whittle’s tiny painting wins the big award at the New Light Prize Exhibition

Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth, winner of the New Light Prize Exhibition main award

A TINY oil-on-copper painting of a tent has won the New Light Prize Exhibition main prize, open to artists across the North.

Measuring only 10cm by 15cm, Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth received the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award on the exhibition’s opening night at Scarborough Art Gallery.

Sorrowing Cloth is part of a series of paintings of tents by Sheffield artist Whittle, who says: “My tent paintings represent fragile and temporary structures constructed within notions of the ruin and time passing.

New Light Art Prize winning artist Joanna Whittle

“Canvas sits in water; ropes are pegged into fluid land. Time sits still and moments brush against each other. Canvas rots and weeds scramble over surfaces, but some lights remain on or have just been lit.

“They hold their own histories, ideas of vanished circuses or fairgrounds – events once frenetic now silenced and ominous in dusk or rain.”

Forlorn, by Victor Harris, winner of the Patron’s Choice Award

The £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award, picked from all the exhibited works, went to Victor Harris, from Waterfoot, Rossendale, in Lancashire, for his oil painting on linen, Forlorn.

Linnet Rubaya, from Leeds, was awarded the Emerging Artists Prize for her acrylic on canvas, Seen. The sponsors, the Saul Hay Gallery, in Manchester, will offer mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities, including a solo show.

Emerging Artists Prize winner Linnet Rubaya

Leeds artist Ian Brooks won the Printmakers’ Prize, open to all forms of original printmaking, for his etching Across Borge Bay. The winner will hold an exhibition at the Zillah Bell Gallery, in Thirsk, the prize sponsors, where some of the best British printmakers exhibit.

Harrogate artist Christian Alexander Bailey received the New Light Purchase Prize for his pen-and-ink drawing Tree Sparrow. His winning work has been acquired by the charity to add to its collection.

Across Borge Bay, by Ian Brooks, winner of the Printmakers’ Prize

A final award, the Visitors’ Choice, will be made at the end of the Scarborough exhibition run and announced at the touring show’s next location, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. This public award recognises the work that strikes a chord with visitors, who are asked to vote for their favourite artwork.

The judges, who shortlisted the artists by using an anonymous online selection process and concluded the judging together in the gallery, were printmaker and artist Anne Desmet; RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips; Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan; Catherine and Ian Hay, from the Saul Hay Gallery; John Bell, from the Zillah Bell Gallery; New Light patron Valeria Sykes and New Light chair Annette Petchey.

Artist Christian Alexander Bailey with his New Light Purchase Prize winner, Tree Sparrow

Annette says: “The high standard of entries has once again astounded the judges, with familiar and new artists showcasing the huge talent in the north of England. “Themes that reflect all of the emotions we have felt as a nation during the 2020 pandemic are captured and reflected across the exhibition: everything from sadness and loneliness to clear optimism and joy in a broad range of media.

“New Light continues to go from strength to strength and it is a delight to work collaboratively with the team at Scarborough Museums Trust.”

The New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “I’m delighted with the judges’ choices and I would like to thank both the New Light and the SMT teams for delivering such an amazing show in these most difficult of times.”

After the Scarborough run ends on January 17 2021, the exhibition will move to Tullie House, Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and finally The Bankside Gallery, London.

Patron’s Choice Award winner Victor Harris

Established in 2010, New Light celebrates and promotes well-known and emerging artists by offering awards and opportunities in its biennial open exhibition. It also runs New Light Art For All, an education programme that includes talks, workshops and school projects, and the New Light Collection, launched in the spring  with the aim of making the best in Northern visual arts available to more people by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities.

“The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated,” says Annette.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home, as opposed to a “social gathering” for the joy of six. List No 14, from The Press

Helen Wilson in a damned spot of Scottish bother in York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets at Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York. Picture: John Saunders

MUSICAL theatre in a park, drag cabaret at a sports club, Shakespeare sonnets and songs in churchyards, high-speed film action at an airfield and chamber music online catch Charles Hutchinson’s eye

Graveyard smash of the week: York Shakespeare Project’s Sit-down Sonnets, Holy Trinity churchyard, Goodramgate, York, until Saturday

WHEN York Shakespeare Project’s Macbeth bit the dust in March, put on hold by the Covid lockdown, York’s purveyors of Shakespeare’s Sonnet Walks decided to stage a sit-down, but not as an act of protest.

Director Mick Taylor and producer Maurice Crichton hatched a plan to present assorted familiar Shakespeare characters, brought into the modern world, to reflect on the pandemic with an accompanying sonnet.

Holy Trinity’s churchyard, with its five park benches, tree shelter and mown grass, provides an ideal socially distanced open-air setting. Bring a rug, cushion, camp chair, flask and biscuits, suggests Maurice, to performances at 5.45pm and 7pm, plus 4.15pm on Saturday.

Polly Bolton: Sharing a double bill with Henry Parker in the NCEM churchyard

Double bills in another churchyard: Songs Under Skies, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, tonight, September 16 and 17

SONGS Under Skies brings together the National Centre for Early Music, The Crescent, The Fulford Arms and the Music Venues Alliance for an open-air series of acoustic concerts.

The opening night with Amy May Ellis and Luke Saxton on September 2 was driven inside by the rain. Fingers crossed for more clement conditions for Wolf Solent and Rosalind tonight, Polly Bolton and Henry Parker on September 16 and Elkyn and Fawn the following night.

Gates will open at 6.30pm for each 7pm start; acts will perform either side of a 30-minute interval with a finishing time of 8.30pm. 

The Bev Jones Music Company in a socially distanced rehearsal for Sunday’s show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre

Musical theatre showcase part one: Bev Jones Music Company, Strictly Live In The Park, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, Sunday, 3pm.

THE Bev Jones Music Company stage a full-sized musical theatre concert with more than 20 socially distanced singers and a five-piece band on Sunday afternoon.

Strictly Live In The Park promises a “spectacular show for all the family, with popular show music, pop music, dance and comedy”, under the musical direction of John Atkin with choreography by Claire Pulpher.

Expect numbers from Adele to Robbie Williams, Cabaret to Hairspray, Mack & Mabel to South Pacific, The Full Monty to Chess, Miss Saigon to the finale, Les Miserables, all arranged by the late company driving force Bev Jones. Also expect temperature tests on arrival.

Conor Mellor in York Stage Musicals’ first show at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York. He will be back for the second one too. Picture: Jess Main

Musical theatre showcase part two: York Stage Musicals present Jukebox Divas, Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, September 18 to 20, 7pm

AFTER the sold-out three-night run of York Stage Musicals’ first ever outdoor show last month, producer/director Nik Briggs and musical director Jessica Douglas return to their Rowntree Park psychedelic igloo to stage Jukebox Divas.

Jessica’s band line-up has changed, so too has the singing sextet, with Conor Mellor from the debut show being joined by Dan Conway, Sophie Hammond, Grace Lancaster and Eleanor Leaper.

“With music from We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and more modern releases like + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, audiences will be entertained for 90 minutes with vocal tributes to artists such as Elvis Presley, Queen, Meat Loaf, Katy Perry, Carole King and many more,” says Nik.

Baby Driver: one of the films with high-speed thrills to be screened at AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema at Elvington Airfield

Car experience of next week: AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema, Elvington Airfield, near York, September 18 to 20

AFTER Daisy Duke’s Drive-in Cinema on Knavesmire, now comes a celebration of high-speed thrills and derring-do skills at Elvington Airfield…on screen, courtesy of AA Getaway Drive-in Cinema.

Tickets have sold out already for the September 19 screenings of James Gunn’s 2014 space chase, Guardians Of The Galaxy (12A), at 2.30pm and James Mangold’s 2019 Ford v Ferrari race-track clash, Le Mans 66 (12), at 7.30pm.

Bookings can still be made, however, for Guardians Of The Galaxy on September 18 at 2.30pm and September 20 at 7.30pm and Edgar Wright’s 2017 getaway-car heist thriller, Baby Driver (15), September 18, 7.30pm, and September 20, 2.30pm.

No more kitchen-sink dramas for Velma Celli as York’s drag diva deluxe swaps live-streaming for the great outdoors in Acomb tomorrow

Stepping out of her Bishopthorpe kitchen into the York open air: Velma Celli: An Evening Of Song, York RI Community Sports Club, New Lane, Acomb, tomorrow, 8pm.

AFTER a spring and summer of concerts live-streamed from home, York drag diva Velma Celli takes to the outdoor stage at a sports club.

“The show will be a mixed bag of whatever I fancy on the day – pop, rock, impressions and some musical theatre obviously – and of course requests online. Message me on Facebook,” advises Velma.

Very special guests are promised: definitely York soul powerhouse Jessica Steel will be among them.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

Festival of the month: York Chamber Music Festival, September 18 to 20

THE 2020 York Chamber Music Festival is going online to live-stream three concerts from the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, in a celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

Festival artistic director and cellist Lowe will be performing with Simon Blendis and Charlotte Scott, violins; Matthew Jones, violin and viola; Jon Thorne, viola, and Katya Apekisheva, piano. For full details on the programme and on how to watch the concerts, go to ycmf.co.uk.

Strictly between us: Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice’s tour poster for Him & Me next summer at the Grand Opera House, York

One for the 2021 diary: Anton & Giovanni, Him & Me, Grand Opera House, York, July 12

STRICTLY Come Dancing staples Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice will link up for their debut tour together, Him & Me, next year.

Details are sketchy, but the dapper Sevenoaks ballroom king and the Italian stallion say: “This show promises to be the best night out in the Summer of 2021 for all ages…A true dance extravaganza!”

Anton and Giovanni will be joined by a “world-class cast” of dancers and singers for a show produced by Strictly Theatre Co and directed by Alan Burkitt.

And what about…?

A visit to the reopened Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre exhibition in Blossom Street, York. Malton Harvest Food Festival on Saturday. New Light Prize Exhibition, with more than 100 artists, opening at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19. York Walking Festival, running or, rather, walking until Sunday (details at iTravel York website).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris, at the New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery

Prize exhibition to shed New Light on northern artists at Scarborough Art Gallery

Day Dreamer, by Abigail Rooney, one of the works selected for the New Light Prize Exhibition, as are all those featured below

IN its tenth year, the New Light Prize Exhibition will open at Scarborough Art Gallery on September 19 for its biggest show yet.

Work by more than 100 contemporary northern artists will be on show until January 17 2021, their artwork ranging from “the hyper-real to the purely abstract” across a range of media by artists at all stages of their career.

Rebekah Tadd, New Light’s development director, says: “We’re delighted by the positive reception to the 2020 New Light Prize Exhibition. It’s one of the few open art competitions able to continue this year due to its predominantly online nature and the collaboration of our partner galleries.

Seeing, by Linnett Rubaya

“With over 2,000 entries, the judges had a tremendous challenge. Their shortlist features 125 artworks from 105 of the most talented artists in the UK, making this our biggest exhibition ever and giving a unique insight into contemporary northern art.”

Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic presenting “huge challenges and hardships to the whole of the UK and particular challenges for the art world”, Rebekah says: “We’re very fortunate that Scarborough Art Gallery was the first gallery in the country to devise a Covid-secure visitor experience, enabling us to open the exhibition to the public while operating within Government guidelines.

“In order to make the exhibition available to those unable to attend the gallery in person, we’re working to ensure that we share as much as possible through online sources.

Salmon Fishing On London Bridge, by Norman Long

“We aim to enhance visitor enjoyment by providing as much information as possible about the artists and their work to enable them to make informed decisions if they wish to purchase art work.”  

Simon Hedges, head of curation, collections and exhibitions at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “This brilliant exhibition will showcase a wide range of media and styles from a diverse range of artists at all stages of their career. The very essence of the North shines through the unique qualities of our region’s artists and the physical as well as notional spaces they occupy.” 

The New Light Prize Exhibition is open to artists who were born, live or have studied in one of the historic counties of the North of England (Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland, County Durham and Northumberland).

Jon, by Laura Quin Harris

Shortlisting took place over the summer, with a panel comprising printmaker and artist Anne Desmet, RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips, Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan and New Light chair Annette Petchey. 

Annette says: “The calibre of work being produced by the region’s artists has, once again, underlined the wealth of talent the North of England attracts and nurtures. While the very high standard made the judging task incredibly difficult, it also affirmed the rationale for the New Light Prize.”

The competition winners will be announced at a private view on September 18. Prizes include the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award, open to all artists over 18 with a connection to the North of England, and the £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award, presented that night.

KIng And Queen, by Andrew Tyzack

After its Scarborough launch show, the New Light Prize Exhibition will move on to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and The Bankside Gallery in London. 

Established in 2010, New Light not only celebrates and promotes well-known and emerging artists by offering awards and opportunities with the biennial open exhibition, but also runs New Light Art For All, an education programme that combines talks, workshops and school projects.

Behind The Doll Paint, by Catherine McDiarmid

In addition, the New Light Collection will be launched next spring with the aim of making the best northern visual arts available to more people by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities.

“The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated,” says Annette. “New Light is run by a dedicated group of people who are passionate about the visual arts in the north. It relies entirely on donations and sponsorship.”

For more information on New Light, go to: newlight-art.org.uk

Galgo, by Sarah Gooder