‘I’ve got the NHS bug,’ says York artist Karen Winship as she starts new series after Askham Bar vax centre show launch

Not Just A Vaccine: Karen Winship’s commissioned painting of Nimbuscare staff at York Vaccination Centre, Askham Bar

YORK artist Karen Winship honours NHS staff in her new commission, Not Just A Vaccine, on show in the “Tent of Hope” at York Vaccination Centre, Askham Bar.

Karen’s acrylic-on-canvas work features ten staff from the Nimbuscare team at the vaccination site, where her NHS Heroes exhibition will greet visitors until the end of summer as they wait for their jabs and rest afterwards.

Not Just A Vaccine was commissioned by exhibition promoters Pocklington Arts Centre, ahead of Winship’s poignant portraits of frontline NHS workers taking up temporary residence in York after earlier pop-up displays on the railings of All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, and at Hull Waterside and Marina.

“I was approached to do the new painting when I was doing the publicity for the Hull Marina show in April/May time,” says Karen. “I took photographs of staff, and there are ten portraits within the painting, so it took time to arrange and to get the composition right. It needed 40 to 50 hours, which is unusual for me, as normally I ‘slap them out’ and they’re done!”

Michelle Philips, director of quality and patient experience (Nimbuscare), left; Dr Nick Bennett; Zoe Spowage, St John’s Ambulance first aider; Karen Winship, artist; Sam Chapter, security, and Melanie Carter, lead nurse, (Nimbuscare) stand in front of Karen’s specially commissioned artwork.

Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) director Janet Farmer says: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been making art accessible for all by taking two exhibitions by two fantastic York artists, Karen Winship and Sue Clayton, on tour to various locations in the region.

“When the opportunity to take NHS Heroes to the York Vaccination Centre arose, we couldn’t think of a more fitting location for these stunning portraits that have been created by a very talented artist.

“We hope they brighten up the space while honouring all those who have worked so hard at this challenging time.”

Karen says: “It has just been incredible to have been able to have my work toured across the region and seen by so many people thanks to PAC, and now it is in such a fitting, poignant location.

“The specially commissioned piece really finishes the collection off nicely and is a timely and relevant tribute to the team at the York Vaccination Centre, as well as to all NHS staff who have worked on the frontline throughout the pandemic.

Michelle Philips, director of quality and patient experience (Nimbuscare), left, artist Karen Winship and Sara Morton, of Pocklington Arts Centre, at the launch of Karen’s NHS Heroes exhibition at York’s Vaccination Centre

“There’s still much work to be done and I hope my portraits bring some joy into the working day of the Nimbuscare team, as well the hundreds of daily visitors to the site.”

Around 1,500 people pass through the “Tent of Hope” at the Askham Bar NHS Vaccination Centre, where 3,000 visitors file through the site at its busiest times.

Michelle Philips, Nimbuscare’s director of quality and patient experience, says: “Showcasing art within the ‘Tent of Hope’ brightens up everyone’s visit to the vaccination centre and we’re so grateful to have yet another fantastic collection from the very talented Karen Winship. We’re delighted with the special piece of art she has done for us which will be treasured by us all.”

Karen started her career in graphic design before gaining her teaching degree and going on to work in a maximum-security prison as head of art. She paints mainly in acrylics, always looking for the narrative within an image, and that narrative at present revolves around the NHS.

Karen Winship’s acrylic portrait of her daughter Kelly, an occupational therapist at York Hospital, from the NHS Heroes exhibition

“I’ve got the NHS bug, so I just seem to be obsessed, or maybe ‘upset’ is the better word for how I feel about the way the NHS is being overrun at the moment, and staff are just not being cared for,” she says.

“You can see how stretched they are, because so many staff are off with Covid or they’ve been ‘pinged’, which means they’re even more down on numbers. They’ve had to deal with the Covid pandemic and they’re tyring to catch up with everything else, so I’m now doing a series showing the exhaustion of the paramedics, doctors and nurses.

“I’ve done three so far. I’ve got a source close at hand because my eldest daughter Kelly [who features in the original NHS Heroes portraits] is an occupational therapist at York Hospital.”

Karen has further sources of inspiration for her subject matter. “My ex-husband husband, Kevin, is a paramedic and my father – who’s no longer with us – was a paramedic. I use references such as Kevin’s uniform for stock images,” she says.

Constant And Great, from Karen Winship’s ongoing new series of NHS paintings

Among the new series is the tribute piece Constant And Great. “I’ve taken an image of the statue of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, outside York Minster, and adapted it for the painting, where the figure still looks like him but now he has logos of key workers.

“He still has his cape but now it’s more of a hero cape, and he has a pair of trainers, thrown off by his bare feet. He has a nurse’s uniform and a stethoscope around his neck, and he’s now holding a staff of life, rather than a sword, in one hand, and a mask in the fingers of his other hand.”

Karen is “not sure what’s going to happen next with the series”, but says: “It would make sense, as it’s all about the NHS, to have the paintings put on show at York Hospital, but I already have my series of dementia paintings there, so I don’t really know what the plans are.

“Hopefully, I’ll get them shown at City Screen and I’ll approach York Art Gallery, as they’ve both shown my NHS Heroes portraits.

“These paintings are bursting out of me right now. I think one of the dementia paintings has been taken down at the hospital for being ‘too depressing’, but that’s what we’re going through. These are troubled times.”

Karen Winship’s self-portrait as she worked on her NHS Heroes painting of daughter Kelly

Why Grayson Perry is Top of the Pots, Kinky Sex plate and all…

Kinky Sex: Grayson Perry’s first ceramic, from his Pre-Therapy Years exhibition at York Art Gallery

SHEER art attack podcasters Chalmers & Hutch discuss the cracking ceramics exhibition Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years at York Theatre Royal in episode 45 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

What’s on Graham’s Lonely Film Club Night list?

How does the passing of time judge Nick Drake, Bowie, Dylan and…Sinead O’Connor, singer, agent provocateur and now autobiographer? More Sinned against than Sinning?

What are all those flags on Harrogate Stray? Graham flags up Luke Jerram’s NHS tribute installation, In Memoriam.

Here’s the link to hear more: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/8636988

Trailblazers Arthur Kleinjan and Juliana Kasumu win Aesthetica Art Prize awards at York Art Gallery in timely ‘call to action’

Arthur Kleinjan’s Above Us Only Sky: Winner of the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize Main Prize

ARTHUR Kleinjan has won the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize Main Prize and Juliana Kasumu, the Emerging Prize, in York.

The winners were announced in a virtual private view and awards ceremony online, ahead of the public opening of the exhibition at York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, that will run until September 5.

Both artists’ moving-image works question the world in which we live, diving into some of today’s most pressing topics, from the construction of complex identities to notions of truth and storytelling.

Dutchman Kleinjan’s winning work is Above Us Only Sky, a compelling film wherein a narrator leads the viewer into a magical-realist history bereft of fabrication. The story begins with an investigation into a plane crash in communist Czechoslovakia, when one woman survived after an unlikely fall from the air.

“This event becomes the point of entry to a dense web of seemingly unrelated events that question the logic of chance and synchronicity,” says Aesthetica Art Prize director Cherie Federico.

Technical gremlins with the sound prevented Kleinjan from making an acceptance speech from his home, but he could be seen on screen, cupping his hands in thanks, making heart signs and giving thumbs-ups.

British-Nigerian artist Kasumu’s winning Emerging work, What Does The Water Taste Like?, was prompted by intimate conversations, “questioning the production of identity as it relates to her own personal affiliations with the complex ways where past and present remain in constant dialogue”.

“This engages in interpersonal speculation regarding identity production and sentiments of ‘home’,” says Cherie. “Juliana’s work presents perspectives on the intimacy between kith and kin.”

Juliana Kasumu’s What Does The Water Taste Like?: Winner of the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize Emerging Prize

“I’m honoured, I’m excited, I’m grateful, so excited that the project is being seen in this way, as it’s so meaningful, not just to me, but to my family,” said Juliana, in her digital livestream interview with Cherie, later revealing she happened to be “in York right now”.

What inspired Juliana’s artist film? “My practice has been such a long journey of questioning, asking questions and wanting to resolve my feelings about my identity as a British Nigerian, the disconnection, when I’m here, or in Nigeria, or travelling the world,” she replied.

Kasumu is resolving her journey to her identity, such as the matter of her name, and trying to understand that path as a “second generation child of two immigrant parents”. “Even people who are not second generation will understand it,” she said.

The straightening of hair was central to the film, noted Cherie. “I guess for me, in retrospect, I feel that even in the pain and the frustration, there is also love,” Juliana said. “You will see she [the mother] is nurturing the hair as a labour of love, even though the things that have brought it about are painful. There is a tenderness that can exist, where love can exist, but pain can also exist.”

What’s next for Juliana? “I’m in post-production for a short documentary I made in New Orleans about this amazing woman who runs the Baby Bangz hair salon [at 223, N. Rendon Street],” she said.

Cherie describes the Aesthetica Art Prize as a place of discovery, sculpting the future of the art sector through supporting the most talented new practitioners from across the globe, from the UK to the USA, Italy to Norway, Germany to Brazil, Singapore to Mexico, Taiwan to Australia: “trailblazers who digest the very nature of life in the 21st century, further questioning and making sense of a rapidly changing world”.

In all, more than 4,000 artworks were submitted for the 2021 prize; 125 entrants making the long list; 20, the short list of “new luminaries and chroniclers of our times”, chosen for their originality, skill and technical ability for the exhibition at York Art Gallery.

Cherie says: “Life was complicated before Covid-19, and the pandemic has placed a new set of constraints and challenges on society. The question that runs through all of our minds like a ticker tape is: ‘where do we go from here?’

Straighten, from Juliana Kasumu’s prize-winning art film What Does The Water Taste Like?

“The winning works are just that: a call to action. These works are covering themes such as the climate crisis, colonial histories, racism, new technologies and the impact they have on our lives. Both Juliana Kasumu and Arthur Kleinjan draw on personal and universal narratives, with immediate artworks that reflect on the times in which we live.”

Hosted by the York-published international art magazine Aesthetica, the Aesthetica Art Prize was set up 14 years ago to provide a platform for those redefining the parameters of contemporary art.

It has since supported practitioners to gain funding, residencies and commissions, while finalists have featured in exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery, V&A, MoMA, Barbican and the National Portrait Gallery, in London. Winners receive prize money, exhibition and publication opportunities , plus further opportunities for development.

The 2021 shortlisted artists with work on show at York Art Gallery are: Kleinjan; Kasumu; Monica Alcazar-Duarte; Andrew Leventis; Chris Combs; James Tapscott; Alice Duncan and Cesar & Lois Collective; Carlos David; Seb Agnew; Kitoko Diva; Christiane Zschommler; Henny Burnett;   Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard; David Brandy; Shan Wu; Cathryn Shilling; Dirk Hardy; Gabriel Hensche and Erwin Redl.

The work spans painting and drawing; photography and digital art; three-dimensional design and sculpture; installation, performance and video art. As with each year, the selected pieces push the boundaries of form and genre, inspiring viewers to see the world in new ways.

“Their works cover pressing themes, from the climate crisis and colonial histories to racist bias and new technologies,” says Cherie.

“The pieces draw on both personal and universal narratives, unearthing the intricate layers of what it means to be alive today. These works are immediate, compelling and highly relevant works reflecting on a new zeitgeist.”

Among the featured artists, Kitoko Diva’s The Black Man In The Cosmos is a poetic and experimental art film created as a part of a video installation, mixing new forms of Afrofuturism, cyberspace imagery and poetry, that addresses the contemporary identity crisis issue among European Afro-descendants.

Winning work: Dutchman Arthur Kleinjan’s Above Us Only Sky

Henny Burnett’s 365 Days Of Plastic takes a critical look at plastic consumption, moulding a year’s worth of packaging into sculptures that comprise a four by three-metre wall. “The scale of food packaging, recycling and waste disposal is there to be seen in plain view,” says Cherie.

Andrew Leventis’s Freezer Box (Vanitas) and Refrigerator (Vanitas) tap into the material realities of the Covid-19 pandemic. His paintings transform Dutch vanitas into 21st century works that consider the experience of mass panic and how the idea of “stocking up” on items became crucial, almost primal, in a notion to survive.

Monica Alcazar-Duarte’s photography series, Second Nature, looks at how algorithms are used, through search engine technology, to support and maintain biased thinking. “These images are an amalgamation of re-staged moments from stories of discrimination gathered from algorithmic search results on the internet,” says Cherie.

In Gabriel Hensche’s Almost Heaven, the artist performs and dances to a song he does not like, Take Me Home, Country Roads. “The result is unnerving and unsettling; the piece demonstrates a perpetual layer of disconnect that we experience through the lens and daily on the internet,” says Cherie.

Reflecting on running such a prestigious prize, the director says: “I’m honoured to have the opportunity to engage with, and support, so much talent. Every day, I am inspired by these artists. I can only thank them for giving me the opportunity to experience such captivating work.

“Curating this year’s exhibition was infinitely rewarding. The process is rigorous because there are so many talented artists that apply.”

Cherie told the awards-ceremony online audience she ‘could not tell you’ how happy she was that the show would be opening in “real life”. “I’m talking tears of joy,” she said. “It’s just so wonderful to be able to put these works on display at York Art Gallery for the world to see.

“Life was about finding a new balance. It was strange and odd, but I’ve learned so much,” says Aesthetica director Cherie Federico of her lockdown experiences

“Art is the mechanism by which we can begin to make sense of the world. If there has ever been a time that we need art in our lives, it is now. The world has been permanently changed by the pandemic. We are living history.

“This is the moment that will alter the way we live, communicate, work, play, socialise, travel, experience the joys of culture, forever.”

In many ways, the pandemic has opened up a new set of possibilities, suggested Cherie: “I lament the loss of some things, while other changes, I welcome. It’s the permanent sense of the real and virtual, the ease and unease, presence and absence. I feel so emotional when I see footage of life in 2019; I well up and my brain starts to access the enormity of the situation.

“I work through all the details. The fears, anxiety and worry. These are feelings that are going to take a long time to understand.”

On the one hand, Cherie had to slow down in the three lockdowns; on the other, ironically, she found she had to “speed right up”. “Life was about finding a new balance. It was strange and odd, but I’ve learned so much,” she said.

“Art is the thing that holds everything together for me. It’s what helps me to work through the sense, anxiety and worry. Art reminds me of our humanity, encourages me to take risks and bold steps forward.

“I see this as a chance to improve, to take this experience and do something with it: rebuild a better, greener and equal society. These are noble aspirations, I know, but the opportunity is here and waiting for all of us to act upon.”

Prize winner Arthur Kleinjan

Nothing happens without action, asserted Cherie, pointing to the exhibition being a rallying call. “So much of it focuses on the very fabric of our lives and the possibilities that are there for the future,” she said.

“The thing about this pandemic is that it has affected every single person on planet Earth. Just think about that for a moment. We have had this enormous shared experience – and there is something very special about that. In many ways, it means you are not alone, and with that comes great comfort.”

Summing up the exhibition, Cherie posits: “The shortlisted artists speak to each other about what it means to be here, in this moment. The dialogue is robust, urgent and necessary. Race and identity are key themes.”

The Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition runs at York Art Gallery until September 5. Tickets are free but booking is essential at yorkartgallery.org.uk.

The 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize anthology, Future Now: 125 Contemporary Artists, is available to order for £12.95 at shop.aestheticamagazine.com/collections/future-now-collection/products/future-now-2021

Entries are open already for the 2022 prize at aestheticamagazine.com/artprize/submit.

Karen Winship’s poignant NHS Heroes portraits show launched at Hull Marina

Mother and daughter: Karen Winship’s self-portrait of her painting her portrait of Kelly, an NHS occupational therapist

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.

Karen Winship’s NHS Heroes portraits on the railings at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington

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.”

Amanda, by Karen Winship, from her NHS Heroes series of portraits

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.”

York artist Karen Winship with Aquavista manager Graham Richardson and Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer at Hull Waterside & Marina

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.

Karen Winship’s portrait of Samantha, from the NHS Heroes exhibition and Portraits For NHS Heroes fund-raising book for NHS charities

“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.

Kelly, NHS occupational therapist and daughter of artist Karen Winship, from NHS Heroes

“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.”

Karen Winship at Monday’s launch of her NHS Heroes exhibition at Hull Waterside & Marina

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.

Joan, portrait by Karen Winship from the NHS series

More Things To Do in York and beyond, and not still bedded down in the home bunker. List No. 31, courtesy of The Press, York

Let Ian Massie take you to Another Place in his Northern Soul show at Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole from May 17

NO mention of home entertainment here, as Charles Hutchinson decides to cast fears aside – albeit while acting responsibly – as he looks forward to theatres, bars, galleries, museums and music venues opening their doors once more.

Cupid, draw back your bow and let the beer flow, straight to the York Theatre Royal patio

LOVE is in the Step 2 air, and soon on the York Theatre Royal stage too for The Love Season from May 17.

Cupid’s Bar: Follow the arrow to the York Theatre Royal patio. Picture: Livy Potter

Perfect timing to launch Cupid’s Bar for five weeks on the Theatre Royal patio, where the bar will run from midday to 9.30pm every Thursday to Sunday, providing an outdoor space in the heart of the city for residents and visitors to socialise safely.

Working with regional suppliers, Cupid’s Bar will offer a range of drink options, such as draught beer from Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, and York Gin from, er, York.

Ian Scott Massie: Finding Northern Soul in his landscape watercolours and screenprints. Picture: Steve Christian

Exhibition of the month ahead outside York: Ian Scott Massie, Northern Soul, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole, North York Moors National Park, May 17 to July 11

MASHAM artist Ian Scott Massie’s Northern Soul show of 50 watercolours and screenprints represents his personal journey of living in the north for 45 years.

“The north is the truth of England, where all things are seen clearly,” he says. “The incomparable beauty of the landscape; the harsh ugliness left by industry; the great wealth of the aristocracy; the miserable housing of the poor; the civic pride of the mill towns and a people as likely to be mobilised by political oratory as by a comedian with a ukulele.”

The Waterfall Of Nikko-Zan In Shimotsuke Province, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1853, from York Art Gallery’s show of rarely seen Japanese prints, Pictures Of The Floating World. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

Reopening exhibition of the month ahead in York: Pictures Of The Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints, York Art Gallery, from May 28

YORK Art Gallery’s display of rarely seen Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, complemented by much-loved paintings from the gallery collection, will go on show in a new Spotlight Series.

Marking next month’s gallery reopening with Covid-secure measures, Pictures Of The Floating World will feature prints by prominent Ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, along with works by those influenced by Japanese art, York artist Albert Moore and Walter Greaves among them.

This free-to-visit exhibition will highlight the significant impact of Japanese art on the western world and the consequential rise of the artistic movements of Aestheticism and Art Nouveau.”

Van the manoeuvre: Morrison’s York Barbican gigs put back to July

On the move: Van Morrison’s York Barbican shows

NO reopening date has yet been announced for York Barbican, but Irish veteran Van Morrison’s shows are being moved from May 25 and 26 to July 20 and 21.

“Please keep hold of your tickets as they will be valid for the new date,” says the Barbican website, where seats for Van The Man are on sale without social distancing, in line with Step 4 of the Government’s pandemic Roadmap to Recovery, whereby all legal limits on social contact are potentially to be removed from June 21.

Morrison, 75, will release his 42nd album, Latest Record Project: Volume 1, a 28-track delve into his ongoing love of blues, R&B, jazz and soul, on May 7 on Exile/BMG.

Lockdown love story: The taster poster for Alan Ayckbourn’s new play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

New play of the summer: Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, June 4 to July 3

AFTER the 2020 world premiere of his virus play Truth Will Out lost out to the Covid pandemic restrictions, director emeritus Alan Ayckbourn returns to the Stephen Joseph Theatre to direct his 85th play, The Girl Next Door, in the summer season.

“I wrote it back in Spring 2020. I like to think of it as a lockdown love story,” says Ayckbourn, introducing his touching, tender and funny reflection on the ability of love to rise above adversity and reach across the years.

Influenced by his own experiences in two “lockdowns”, one in wartime London in childhood, the other in the on-going pandemic in Scarborough, Ayckbourn will play with time in a plot moving back and forth between 2021 and 1941. Box office: sjt.uk.com.

May and April in tandem: York Barbican date for Imelda next spring on her first tour in five years

Gig announcement of the week in York: Imelda May, York Barbican, April 6 2022

IRISH singer-songwriter Imelda May will play York Barbican next April in the only Yorkshire show of her Made To Love tour, her first in more than five years.

“I cannot wait to see you all again, to dance and sing together, to connect and feel the sparkle in a room where music makes us feel alive and elevated for a while,” says May. “Let’s go!”

Last Friday, the 46-year-old Dubliner released her sixth studio album, 11 Past The Hour. The box office opens tomorrow at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Dance like Fred Astaire…or more likely like Tim Booth as James end the summer at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Gig announcement of the week outside York: James, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, September 9

WHERE better for James to announce a summer show in the week they release new single Beautiful Beaches than at Scarborough Open Air Theatre?

The Manchester legends will play on the East Coast in the wake of launching their new album, All The Colours Of You, on June 4. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (23/4/2021) at 9am at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

This will be the third that James, led by Clifford-born Tim Booth, have played Scarborough OAT after shows in 2015 and 2018.

The writers, actors, directors and organisers in a Zoom gathering for Next Door But One’s Yorkshire Trios at The Gillygate pub, York

And what about?

GOOD news: Live theatre bursts into life in York for the first time since December 30 when York community arts collective Next Door But One presents Yorkshire Trios in The Gillygate pub’s new outdoor seating area tomorrow and on Saturday.

Themed around Moments Yet To Happen, trios of actors, directors and writers will bring to theatre-starved York a quintet of short stories of laughter, strength, dreams and everything in between: a neighbour with a secret; a delivery driver full of wanderlust; an optimistic carousel operator; a poet inviting us into her world and a Jane McDonald fan on a soapbox.

Bad news for tardy readers? The 7.30pm shows have sold out.

York Art Gallery to mark reopening in May with rarely seen Japanese prints show

Cat On Windowsill, The Festival Of The Cock, Asakus Ricefields, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1857. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust.

YORK Art Gallery’s display of rarely seen Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, complemented by much-loved paintings from the gallery collection, will go on show in a new Spotlight Series from May 28.

Marking next month’s reopening of the Exhibition Square gallery with Covid-secure measures and social distancing, Pictures Of The Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints will feature prints by prominent Ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, along with works by those influenced by Japanese art, York artist Albert Moore and Walter Greaves among them.

York Art Gallery’s display will highlight the significant impact of Japanese art on the western world and the consequential rise of artistic movements such as Aestheticism and Art Nouveau.

View Of Mount Hatana In Kozuke Province, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1853. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

Jenny Alexander, associate collections curator at York Art Gallery, says: “We’re thrilled to introduce this new Spotlight Series at York Art Gallery. The designated space will allow us to share a variety of works from our collection, starting with a selection of beautiful Japanese Ukiyo-e prints.

“Ukiyo-e translates as “pictures of the floating world”, referring to the transitory nature of life. Visitors will see delicate prints depicting scenes celebrating everyday life, through themes such as landscape and travel, actors and courtesans and folk tales.”

Jenny continues: “Some of these works have not been displayed in more than 15 years, so we’re thrilled that many visitors will be able to enjoy them for the first time.

Evening View Of Takanawa, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1832-1838. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

“Featuring these exceptional prints alongside firm favourites from our collection will enable visitors to reconnect with the works and view them from a different perspective, which is really exciting.”

The free-to-visit display in the Upper North Gallery will be the first of the new Spotlight Series that will change periodically to show highlights from the gallery’s permanent collections.

Pictures Of The Floating World will delve into the history of the works, explaining why Japanese art became increasingly influential during the 18th and 19th centuries. Through the variety of artwork on display, visitors will see how western artists were inspired, in particular, by the use of line and colour, and simultaneously how Japanese artists were influenced by western artists’ use of shading and perspective.

The Waterfall Of Nikko-Zan In Shimotsuke Province, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1853. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

Grayson Perry’s Covid-crocked “lost pots” exhibition confirmed for May 28 opening in York Art Gallery’s Centre of Ceramic Art

Kinky Sex: Grayson Perry’s first ceramic plate in 1983

GRAYSON Perry’s lockdown-delayed “lost pots” exhibition at York Art Gallery, The Pre-Therapy Years, will run from May 28 to September 5.

This touring show will be held in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) in the first celebration of Perry’s earliest forays into the art world.

“This show has been such a joy to put together,” said Perry, when the show was first announced for a June 12 to September 20 run in York in 2020 until the pandemic intervened. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these early works again, many of which I have not seen since the Eighties.

“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.”

Cocktail Party, 1989, by Grayson Perry-

Developed by the Holburne Museum in Bath, The Pre-Therapy Years re-introduces the explosive and creative works the Chelmsford-born artist made between 1982 and 1994.  

Gathering the 70 works has been facilitated by crowd-sourcing through a national public appeal, resulting in the “lost pots” being put on display together for the first time since they were made. 

Dr Helen Walsh, curator of ceramics at York Art Gallery, says: “We are delighted to be showcasing the ground-breaking early works of such a renowned and influential artist. 

“It is fascinating to see how his craft has progressed and evolved since he began working as an artist. His early ceramic works show that the distinctive style, themes and characters have always been central in his decoration.”

Armageddon Feels So Very Reassuring, 1988, by Grayson Perry

Helen continues: “To be able to bring these works together for public display, many of which are usually hidden away in private collections, is absolutely thrilling.  

“We are very much looking forward to seeing Grayson Perry’s ceramic works displayed in the beautiful Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery alongside our own collection of British studio ceramics.” 

Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years will shine a light on Perry’s experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories.

The exhibition “represents a unique opportunity to enjoy the artist’s clever, playful and politically-engaged perspective on the world”. Often challenging and explicit, these works reveal the early development of Perry’s distinctive voice that has established him as one of the most compelling commentators on contemporary society. 

Essex, by Grayson Perry

Explaining how The Pre-Therapy Years came together, curator Catrin Jones says: “When we proposed the exhibition, Grayson responded really positively because, he said, ‘no-one knows where those works are’.

“So, we asked the public and were absolutely overwhelmed by the response. What followed was an extraordinary process of rediscovery as we were contacted by collectors, enthusiasts and friends, who collectively held over 150 of his early works.”

The first task was to process photos of the pots, plates and drawings that arrived in the inbox, followed by asking all manner of questions about the works and from where they came.

“We logged all the pottery marks and provenance information, as well as the wonderful stories of how their owner came to have a genuine Grayson Perry,” says Catrin.

Meaningless Symbols, 1993, by Grayson Perry

She and her team next sat down with Perry to look through the extraordinary and varied selection of artworks. During this process, he remarked that seeing the works again was a powerful reminder of his “pre-therapy years”, and an exhibition title was born.

The show begins with Perry’s early collaged sketchbooks, experimental films and sculptures, capturing his move into using ceramics as his primary medium. From his first plate, Kinky Sex (1983), to his early vases made in the mid-1980s, Perry riffed on British vernacular traditions to create a language of his own.

The themes of his later work – fetishism, gender, class, his home county of Essex and the vagaries of the art world – appear in works of explosive energy. Although the majority of his output consisted of vases and plates, Perry’s early experiments with form demonstrate the variety of shapes he produced: Toby jugs, perfume bottles, porringers, funeral urns and gargoyle heads.  

Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years begins in 1982, when Perry was first working as an artist and then charts his progress to the mid-1990s, when he became established in the mainstream London art scene.

“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 Grayson Perry of his exhibition, The Pre-Therapy Years

The exhibition provides a snapshot of a very British time and place, revealing the transition of Grayson’s style, starting out with playful riffs on historic art, such as old Staffordshire pottery, along with crowns (the mixed-media Crown Of Penii, 1982) and thrones (Saint Diana, Let Them Eat S**t, 1984), inspired by his fascination with Princess Diana.

Gradually, he progressed into a style that is patently his own: plates and vases rich with detail that tell tales of our times and experiences, such as 1989’s Cocktail Party.    

Much of the iconography of Perry’s output has an angry, post-punk, deeply ironic leaning, combining cosy imagery with shocking sexual or political content.  

Many of the works displayed in The Pre-Therapy Years tell a very personal story, particularly in the evolution of Claire, who first appeared in the early 1980s, inspired by such powerful women as television newsreaders and Princess Diana, rather than the exuberant child-like figure Perry created after her “coming out” party in 2000.  

The Pre-Therapy Years will shine a light on Grayson Perry’s experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories

Accompanying the rediscovery of Perry’s artworks, the Holburne Museum is illustrating the exhibition with photos and snapshots of the era, again sharing hitherto unseen glimpses of Perry as he journeyed from angry, ironic young artist to one of British art’s best-loved figures. 

After completing his art degree in Portsmouth in 1982, Perry moved to London and lived in a Camden squat with the singer Marilyn and Welsh conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans, collectively enjoying creative freedom while sharing limited resources.

During these early years, Perry encountered the Neo Naturists, a group of freewheeling performance artists, whose visual and creative approach would have a profound impact on him.

CoCA first exhibited a Grayson Perry ceramic, Melanie, in July 2015 as its centrepiece talking point after York Art Gallery’s £8 million transformation.

Grayson Perry’s Melanie, first exhibited at York Gallery in July 2015

Melanie is one of three women from his Three Graces work, joined by Georgina and Sarah in the Miss Plus Size Competition.

“First seen in Grayson’s Who Are You? documentary, Melanie is a voluptuous figurative piece with a strong narrative that discusses the changing view of  what constitutes feminine beauty,” said curator of ceramics Helen Walsh on its arrival.

Perry commented on his Three Graces: “In the history of sculpture, female forms such as these were often seen as fertility goddesses to be prayed to for children and plentiful harvests. Nowadays, we are more likely to see a growing health problem.”

Melanie featured subsequently in York Art Gallery’s re-opening exhibition, Your Art Gallery – Paintings Chosen By You, from August 20 last year.

In All Its Familiarity Golden, one of Grayson Perry’s Stitching The Past Together tapestries shown at Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley

In May 2014, accompanied by his childhood teddy bear Alan Measles, Perry opened the Meet The Museums Bears special event in the York Museum Gardens in full transvestite regalia as part of York Museums Trust’s contribution to the Connect 10 Museums At Night national celebration.

Last year, from February 8, Perry’s Stitching The Past Together tapestries went on show at Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley. Out went the National Trust country house’s 17th century Verdure tapestries for conservation work; in came a pair of Grayson’s typically colourful and thought-provoking Essex House Tapestries: The Life Of Julie Cope (2015).

Hanging in an historic setting for the first time, in the Nunnington Hall drawing room, this brace of large-scale, striking works tells the story of Julie Cope, a fictitious Essex “everywoman” created by the irreverent Chelmsford-born Perry.

2003 Turner Prize winner Perry kept himself busy in Lockdown 1 by launching Grayson’s Art Club, his pledge to “battle the boredom” of the lockdown through art, in a six-part series on Channel 4 from April 27 2020 that attracted a million viewers a week.

“You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” promises Grayson Perry, as he looks forward to his 2021 tour, Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People

From his London workshop, the Essex transvestite artist, potter, broadcaster and writer took viewers on a journey of artistic discovery in themed shows designed to “encourage you to make your own work in the new normal of isolation”.

Grayson’s Art Club has returned for an on-going second series, presented by Perry in tandem with his wife, the author, psychotherapist and broadcaster Philippa Perry.

Looking ahead, outré artist and social commentator Perry has a York-bound live show in the late-summer.

In his own words: Despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, booked into York Barbican for September 6 on night number five of this year’s 23-date tour. Sheffield City Hall awaits on September 10; Harrogate Convention Centre on November 27.

The tour poster for Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People

What will be on Perry’s mind?  “Let Grayson take you through an enlightening and eye-watering evening in which this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.

“Join Grayson as he asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in an evening sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.”

Perry, who turned 61 on March 24, has had an artistic career spanning 40 years, revealing a diverse expertise in “making lemonade out of the mundanity of life”. Such as? In 2015, he designed A House For Essex, a permanent building constructed in the North Essex countryside.

Last autumn, he presented Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, a three-part documentary travelogue on Channel 4, exploring the meaning of the American Dream in today’s disunited United States of America.

Tickets for Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York once lockdown loosens grip and at home now. List No. 27, courtesy of The Press, York

Sandwich time: Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Cassie Vallance’s hit show from last summer in Rowntree Park, York, can be streamed from tomorrow

THE return of live entertainment is on the horizon at last, hopefully from May 17, prompting a surge in show confirmations, but in the meantime Stay Home activities remain prominent in Charles Hutchinson’s diary too.

Children’s streamed show of the weeks ahead: Park Bench Theatre’s Teddy Bears’ Picnic, February 26 to March 7

ONE of the hits of last summer’s Park Bench Theatre open-air season at Rowntree Park, York, is to be streamed by producers Engine House Theatre from tomorrow.

Children’s show Teddy Bears’ Picnic was performed by Cassie Vallance under Covid-safe conditions with more than 1,000 adults and youngsters seeing the show at 30-plus performances.

Suitable for everyone aged three and over, the streamed show will be bolstered by a Make Your Own Teddy Bear craft video. Tickets cost £5 at tpetv.com.

Hal Cruttenden and Rosie Jones: Your Place Comedy double bill at the weekend

Streamed comedy gig of the weekend: Rosie Jones and Hal Cruttenden, Your Place Comedy, Sunday

ROSIE Jones, Bridlington-born comedian, scriptwriter and actor, will join television comedy mainstay Hal Cruttenden in a virtual double bill on Sunday night, streamed from their living rooms into homes via YouTube and Twitch at 8pm.

Co-ordinator Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall, says: ““I know that times are tough for many people, and so we’re committed to keeping these shows completely free, so please do come and join Hal, Rosie and Tim via yourplacecomedy.co.uk for some top entertainment at an unbeatable price, as for now streaming is the only show in town.”

Thunk-It Theatre’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham: Setting up youth theatre classes with Pocklington Arts Centre

Youth theatre project launch: Thunk-It Theatre in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre, from this weekend

YORK company Thunk-It Theatre are partnering with Pocklington Arts Centre to provide youth theatre for the East Riding and beyond.

Weekly drama classes will be available to children aged six to 11 from February 28, initially on Zoom until it is safe to re-open the Market Place venue, when sessions can be held in person.

The all-levels drama sessions for Years 2 to 6 will take place from 10am to 11am every Sunday during term time, run by Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham. To book a place, visit pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Asterisk tweet: Liam Gallagher found a typically eff-usive way on Wednesday to express his delight at the thumbs-up for Leeds Festival in August

Game-changing festival announcement of the year so far:  Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, near Wetherby, to go ahead

LEEDS Festival, Yorkshire’s biggest outdoor musical gathering of the year, is ON. Organiser Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Reepublic, confirmed the decision yesterday (24/2/2021) in the wake of the Government’s Monday statement on the four-step route out of Covid lockdown strictures.

Already confirmed as headliners are Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age in a new initiative for the August 27 to 29 event that sees the long-running festival introducing a second main stage to enable two bill-toppers per day.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: New date for Remembering The Oscars dance show at York Barbican. Picture: Colin Thomas

Dance delay: Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara: Remembering The Oscars, York Barbican, put back to April 2022

STRICTLY Come Dancing regulars Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manraraare moving their Remembering The Oscars show at York Barbican for a second time. The persistent pandemic has enforced a switch to April 7 2022 for the only Yorkshire performance of next year’s tour, after an earlier change from Spring 2020 to March 2021. Tickets are still valid.

In the meantime, Aljaž and Janette will star in a streamed one-hour performance of Remembering The Oscars for a limited three-week season from March 27 to April 17. To book, go to: rememberingtheoscars.com.

Just Steve, A Guitar And You: the tour poster for Seasick Steve’s York Barbican return in the autumn

York gig announcement of the week: Seasick Steve, York Barbican, November 11

CALIFORNIAN country blues singer-songwriter Seasick Steve will return to York Barbican on November 11 on his Just Steve, A Guitar And You Tour.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (26/2/2021) from 9am at yorkbarbican.co.uk for the only Yorkshire gig of the American’s nine-date autumn solo tour in support of his second album of 2020, last November’s Blues In Mono.

“I’m lookin’ forward to coming and playing for y’all,” says Seasick Steve, 69. “Just gonna be me, you and my guitar. A few songs and a few stories, kinda like we just hangin’ out together! Gonna be fun. See ya there.”

Jesse Malin: Pocklington Arts Centre gig in December

East Yorkshire gig announcement of the week: Jesse Malin, Pocklington Arts Centre, December 7

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has secured a new date for New York City singer-songwriter Jesse Malin. He will play on December 7 2021, fully 18 months after he was originally booked to perform there in June 2020 as part of PAC’s 20th anniversary programme.

Malin, 53, released his seventh studio album, Sunset Kids, in 2019, produced by Lucinda Williams, American roots icon, country music queen and 2016 Platform Festival headliner at the Old Station, Pocklington.

Grayson Perry: Channel 4 return, York Barbican show and York Art Gallery exhibition at CoCA

And what about?

THE return of Grayson’s Art Club for a second series on Channel 4 on Fridays after Grayson Perry’s championing of people’s art was such a spirit-lifting boost to home creativity in the early days of Lockdown 1 last spring.

Perry, by the way, is booked into York Barbican for September 6 on his A Show For Normal People tour and his delayed early pottery exhibition, The Pre-Therapy Years, should open at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), York Art Gallery, on May 28, if Step 3 re-opening comes into effect from May 17, as planned.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides. 

Forget 2020’s ‘new normal’. Here’s man-in-a-dress normal person Grayson Perry’s 2021 show for Normal People in York

Grayson Perry, dressed as his transvestite alter ego, Claire, announces A Show For Normal People, his 2021 tour

AFTER an anything but normal year, otherwise known as the year of the new normal – alas destined to stretch into 2021 – here comes outré artist, potter and social commentator Grayson Perry’s York-bound live show.

In his own words: Despite being an award-winning artist, Bafta-winning TV presenter, Reith lecturer and best-selling author, Grayson Perry is a normal person – and just like other normal people, he is “marginally aware that we’re all going to die”.

Cue Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, booked into York Barbican for September 6 on night number five of next year’s 23-date tour. Sheffield City Hall awaits on September 10; Harrogate Convention Centre on November 27.

What will be on the 2003 Turner Prize winner’s mind? “Let Grayson take you through an enlightening and eye-watering evening in which this kind of existentialism descends from worthiness to silliness. You’ll leave safe and warm in the knowledge that nothing really matters anyway,” his show patter promises.

“Join Grayson as he asks, and possibly answers, these big questions in an evening sure to distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can.”

Grayson Perry’s tour poster for next autumn’s travels

Born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1960, Perry has had an artistic career spanning 40 years, revealing a diverse expertise in “making lemonade out of the mundanity of life”.

Such as? In 2015, he designed A House For Essex, a permanent building constructed in the North Essex countryside. In the early weeks of Lockdown 1 2020, his Channel 4 show, Grayson’s Art Club, brought the nation together through art as he exhorted and celebrated the making of new works, vowing to “battle the boredom of isolation” with a weekly theme from his London studio.

This autumn, Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip, his three-part documentary travelogue on Channel 4, explored the meaning of the American Dream in today’s disunited USA.

Tickets for Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People go on sale tomorrow morning (27/11/2020) at 10am online only at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

This will not be the only Grayson Perry show in York in 2021. His Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at York Art Gallery will now run from May 28 to September 5 next year.

“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 Grayson Perry of his Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, re-scheduled for 2021 in York

This major new display of Perry’s earliest works, Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, will be showcased in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA).

Developed by the Holburne Museum in Bath, the touring exhibition is the first to celebrate Perry’s earliest forays into the art world, reintroducing the “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994.

The 70 works have been crowd-sourced through a national public appeal, resulting in these “lost pots” being assembled for display together for the first time since they were made.

“This show has been such a joy to put together,” said Perry, when the show was first announced. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these early works again, many of which I have not seen since the Eighties.

“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.”

Cocktail Party, 1989, one of Grayson Perry’ s “lost pots” from The Pre-Therapy Years show

The Pre-Therapy Years show should have been the centre of attention at CoCA from June 12 to September 20 this year, but the Coronavirus pandemic intervened.

Now, Perry devotees can look to the horizon, awaiting the arrival of his pots in York next May.The exhibition will shine a light on Perry’s experimentation and exploration of the potential of pottery to address radical issues and human stories.

The 70 works will provide an opportunity to enjoy his clever, playful and politically engaged perspective on the world as these often challenging and explicit pieces reveal his early steps towards becoming a compelling commentator on contemporary society.

From his first plate, Kinky Sex (1983), to his early vases made in the mid-80s, Perry riffed on British vernacular traditions to create a language of his own. The themes of his later work – fetishism, gender, class, his home county of Essex and the vagaries of the art world – appear in these early works, marked by their urgent energy.

CoCA first exhibited a Grayson Perry ceramic, Melanie, in July 2015 as its centrepiece talking point after York Art Gallery’s £8 million transformation. Melanie later featured in York Art Gallery’s re-opening exhibition, Your Art Gallery – Paintings Chosen By You, this summer into autumn.