ACCORDING To McGee’s campaign to “alleviate anxiety caused by uncertain times” gathers pace with the duo exhibition Colour & Ceramics at the ever-revolving gallery in Tower Street, York.
No sooner has she launched her own collection Affirmations, in celebration of the reviving powers of tea, than artist and gallerist Ails McGee has curated a new show by Simon Crawford and David Austin Duckworth for the front gallery opposite Clifford’s Tower.
“Colour is underrated in Britain,” she says. “After 19 months of relentless bad news online and in the papers, it’s sometimes an obligation for creatives to stop reflecting the anger of the times and instead try and find a little optimism. That’s why there’s such an explosion of colour here at the moment.”
Colour & Ceramics sees the launch tomorrow of new collections from painter Simon Crawford and painter and ceramicist David Austin Duckworth, on the back of Crawford’s return from a trip to India.
“This has provided a portal into the theme of the exhibition,” says gallery co-director Greg McGee. “Simon’s art has been exhibited internationally, with shows in Moscow and, a little closer to home, at the Dean Clough galleries in Halifax, helping give this collection an extra heft and pull for collectors across the UK.
“But it’s also the fact Simon travels and soaks up his experiences with such obvious wonder and gratitude that imbues his paintings with such ripples of light and dark.
“To hear him talk of watching the Indian jungle come to life from his train window in the red light of the evening is thrilling, and then to hear him talk of how Covid-19 has decimated the shanty towns of Amritsar and Mumbai is a reminder that recent history has been a nightmare for millions of people.
“Art is never going to fix these problems, but it can be a hammer we can use to help shape our response. In this case, it’s a very colourful hammer.”
Crawford has brought back to his North Yorkshire studio a new appreciation of colour and energy, even filtering his depictions of North Yorkshire’s Whinny Bank at Rievaulx through the conduit of a Punjabi palette.
Looking forward to exhibiting at According To McGee, he says: “The concept is a brilliant one from the gallery: brightening these rather grim days through colour.
“India is visually explosive and an eyes-out-on-stalks experience. A love affair was ignited by the intensity of the Indian palette. This show will set the visual taste buds tingling as the English autumn approaches.
“My work takes you on a journey through the Rajasthan landscape of pink saris against pale green and yellow mustard fields. India made me reimagine my vision of the English landscape.”
Complementing Crawford’s vivid compositions, fellow Knaresborough artist David Austin Duckworth continues his Cornwall Inspired collection in celebration of the elements, especially those found in Cornwall.
“Not all of us managed to get to Cornwall this summer, so experiencing David’s artwork is the next best thing. David’s paintings are alive with light and turquoise seas, and his Raku-fired ceramics ache with how precious nature is. Simon and David work well together, and it is a duality we’d like to continue to exhibit.”
Greg concludes: “We’re excited! There’s a whole load of reasons for people to visit York city centre; we like to think that contemporary art is increasingly up there at the top of the list.”
Simon Crawford & David Austin Duckworth: Colour & Ceramics runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from October 7 to 21; open daily, 12 noon to 5pm, except Sundays, or by appointment on 07973 653702.