Blue Tree Gallery reopens with Janine Baldwin, Colin Cook, Deborah Grice and Karen Turner’s Summer Eclectic show

Quiet Birch Wood, mixed media, by Janine Baldwin at Blue Tree Gallery, York

SUMMER Eclectic marks the reopening of Blue Tree Gallery, in Bootham, York, in an exhibition running until July 3.

“It’s good to see York open again for all to visit and enjoy, as we help to keep York culturally alive, safe and well,” say Gordon and Marisa Giarchi and their gallery team. “We’ll be open to the public with this show and it’s available online.”  

On view are original paintings by Yorkshire artists Janine Baldwin Colin Cook, Deborah Grice and Karen Turner.

Leeds-born Janine Baldwin has settled into Scarborough. “Living on the North Yorkshire coast, I’m surrounded by beautiful moors, woodland and coastline,” she says. “These natural environments are a constant inspiration, and sketches made directly in the landscape form the basis of my studio work.”

Favouring a focus on mark-making and texture, she uses layers of charcoal, pastel and graphite to create her artworks gradually, influenced by Joan Eardley, Cy Twombly and Abstract Expressionism.

Morning Light Over Westerdale, acrylic on canvas, by Colin Cook

“I’m passionate about the conservation of our landscape and since 2006 I have been a conservation volunteer for the North York Moors National Park, working on projects such as tree planting and butterfly habitat management,” says Janine. “These projects have allowed a deeper understanding of the landscape, in turn enriching the artwork I create.”

Colin Cook lives and works near Whitby. “Originally I come from west London and lived in the south of England until moving to the north east to teach photography, digital imaging, drawing and painting in a further education college in 1989,” he says.

Colin had studied fine art at Isleworth Polytechnic and a degree in painting at Maidstone College of Art, graduating in 1979. He began exhibiting in 1987 at Gunnersbury Park Museum in west London, going on to be selected for the 10th Cleveland International Drawing Biennale at the Cleveland Gallery, Middlesbrough, and the BP Young European Artists exhibition of Works On Paper at the Barbican Concourse Gallery, London, in 1992.

Then, after many years of teaching, he began exhibiting again five years ago. The inspiration for his subject matter is drawn from the north-eastern coast and moors and the Lake District. “My paintings are representational, based on observation of the constantly changing and intriguing light,” says Colin

“My paintings are metaphysical in nature, representing vastness and ‘otherness’,” says Deborah Grice

“Most of my paintings are about creating an atmosphere through dramatic light and bold mark making. Compositional tension is important and hopefully created by the careful arrangement of the different pictorial elements: colour, texture, light, etc.”

His paintings are reliant on careful under-drawing to make the structure for the looser brush marks to sit on. The strongest shapes are worked in with large brushes and the smaller areas of specific focus are developed later.

“I prefer to work with acrylic paints and enjoy the flexibility that working with a water-based medium gives. Sometimes the paint is heavily impastoed and on other occasions it is built up in layers or glazes. Acrylic allows for a certain immediacy as it dries fairly quickly.”

Born in East Yorkshire, not far from the Yorkshire Wolds, Deborah Grice is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London.

Resolution III, oil and gold on canvas, by Deborah Grice

“I paint wild landscapes and weather,” she says. “My paintings are metaphysical in nature, representing vastness and ‘otherness’. Although my oil paintings can be thought of as traditional in manner, with the introduction of geometric lines, I feel my work is forward looking, relevant and timely.”

Deborah began applying geometrical lines as a visual device in 2008 after gaining her private pilot’s licence. “Through the use of navigational charts for my cross-country flights, I became interested in making the invisible visible,” she says.

“After a decade of assimilating ideas and thoughts, the lines have also begun to allude to aspects of ‘vision’: perception, meditation, escapism and the physicality of looking.”

Easingwold artist and documentary photographer Karen Turner responds to land and sea, city and village.

A Blowy Day In Scarborough, mixed media, by Karen Turner

“Living in the wonderful county of Yorkshire, I’m passionate about our beautiful countryside, rugged coastline, historic cities and working fishing villages,” she says. “They all have their own individual charm and give endless inspiration to an artist.


​“I’ve always been drawn to the sea and love to paint it with the fluid, often unpredictable qualities of watercolour and inks on paper. I also enjoy creating using big brushes and the colourful opaque effects of acrylic paint on canvas, capturing marine life and other animals.”

Exploring with colour and bold mark making, Karen works in a semi-abstract, naive style, capturing the landscape, wildlife and other aspects of the inspirational natural world.
“I love to create art that makes people smile, adding a splash of colour and brightness to everyday life,” she says.

Blue Tree Galllery, York, is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 5pm, as well as online at bluetreegallery.co.uk.

‘Plates of pears or simple pots of flowers elevated into iconic emblematic art? We had to give Carol Douglas a ring for that…’

York artist Carol Douglas, left, with According To McGee gallery co-director Ails McGee

CAROL Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism part two launches at York gallery According To McGee on Saturday at 12 noon.

Greg and Ails McGee continue their commitment to contemporary painting with the latest collection by the York artist, who last exhibited at the Tower Street art space between lockdowns last year.

“We love Carol’s art,” says gallery co-director Ails. “We showcased her 2020 collection in the autumn and we weren’t surprised at how well they connected. The paintings focus in on the simplest, most humble items of homelife and reassemble them as iconic compositions.

“It’s her style, and you can tell who it is from across the room, which is a litmus test of success in itself.”

Carol’s Hygge and Expressionism part one brought the gallery a new type of discerning client when holding court at According To McGee, notes co-director Greg.

“When a gallery has to constantly rely on a static cohort of collectors to keep the commercial side of things going, that gallery is in trouble,” he says. “We have for 17 years made the point that if you want contemporary cityscapes, we have them. Semi-abstract seascapes? We have them too.

“Plates of pears or simple pots of flowers elevated into iconic emblematic art? We had to give Carol Douglas a ring for that! And she does it with such control, such a mischievous vision, that her work reminds me of William Carlos Williams’s poem This Is Just To Say.

“Those cold plums on the plate were more than just plums! So there’s the heft of something simple beautifully depicted that seems to connect to a whole new type of client that we’re really grateful for.” 

Digital artist Nick Walters orchestrating the Hope nocturnal digital display at According To McGee in York

Carol Douglas’s exhibition follows Hope, the three-week nocturnal digital display of artwork by children from all over the world, a project spearheaded by Denmark’s Viborg and guided to York by Chris Edwards, chair of REACH and the York Cultural Education Partnership, and Chris Bailey, clerk of the York Guild of Media Arts.

“If the intention was to remind a slowly returning cultural sector that According To McGee was alive and kicking, it certainly worked,” says Greg. “The response has been humbling. We’ve had families from participating York schools attending, and teenagers we’ve worked with through our charitable arm, New Visuality, sending me photos of the illuminated projections of their artwork.

“It’s been great and just underlines how innovative displays with digital artists Nick Walters and Pritpal Rehal can complement the more traditional thrills of coming to see a beautifully curated exhibition of beautifully composed paintings.” 

Now the focus turns to Carol Douglas’s paintings, with the McGees settling on maintaining the title Carol Douglas: Hygge and Expressionism from last year’s campaign. “Honestly, the title says it all, and the nature of the work has not shifted at all since last year,” says Ails.

“The ‘hygge’ is there to suggest the reassuringly domestic nature of the subject matter, and the ‘expressionism’ highlights just how much of the success is down to Carol’s wholly idiosyncratic insistence on depicting simple things with such iconic power. She is a joy to work with and is a real boost to York’s cultural community.”

Carol, 2018 winner of the Adult & Access Award for Art & Design Lifelong Student of the Year, says: “I hope that people who see my work find it both visually exciting and somewhat amusing. The domestic has always been my focus and speaks of my personality and history.”

Carol’s artworks can be viewed at According To McGee every Saturday, 12 noon to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702 on weekdays. Alternatively, they can be discovered online at accordingtomcgee.com/collections/carol-douglas.

All are welcome at Saturday’s midday launch, Covid compliance allowing.

Susan Brown returns to York Minster architecture for Kentmere House show

York Minster, by Yorkshire artist Susan Brown

YORKSHIRE artist Susan Brown is exhibiting her architectural paintings of York Minster at Kentmere House Galllery, Scarcroft Hill, York, until July 4.

Her artistic focus is on city life and our relationship with our environment, exploring the rhythm and movement within buildings and interiors, along with creating beautiful abstract paintings, inspired by still-life subjects and landscapes, with an emphasis on texture and pattern.

Susan, who lives in Birdsedge, Huddersfield, exhibits both in Yorkshire nationally. Initially, she studied 3-D Design at Leeds College of Art, since when she has developed her two prime areas of interest, interior design and contemporary painting, in tandem.

The painting side of Susan has involved numerous commissions and several projects where she worked both as designer and artist.

York Minster, window detail, by Susan Brown

She paints theatrical and musical scenes, still life and landscape, but is most associated with her architectural subjects, especially cityscapes. “Her paintings are bold and striking, predominantly worked in watercolour and acrylic,” says Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick. “Her style is immediately recognisable.

“In recent years, she has focused on architectural studies of a range of European cityscapes, such as Prague, Lille, Paris Venice. Since lockdown, she has enjoyed her return to painting York.”

Susan’s musical interest has incorporated the role of artist-in-residence at the 1994 York Early Music Festival, as part of the series arranged by Kentmere House Gallery.

Her paintings appear in private and public contemporary art collections aplenty, among them Halifax Plc, Allied Domecq, the Sir George Martin Trust, the Universities of York and Sheffield, HBOS and the National Trust.

York Minster, West Front, by Susan Brown

Susan has exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Watercolour Society and New English Art Club, as well as many independent galleries in London and across the country.

She has received many art prizes and awards, including the Laing Art Competition, Hunting Art Prize (regional winner) and Penrose Purchase Prize, and has published several books of her work. The latest, Landscape, will be published later this year, featuring her more abstract work.

“Susan has been showing at Kentmere House Gallery since 1990 and her new collection of paintings of York Minster is on show through late-May, throughout June and into early July,” says Ann. “The gallery is open anytime by prior arrangement or chance: you can ring or email, or just take pot luck by ringing the bell. Please ring in advance if travelling any distance.”

Kentmere House Gallery’s next open weekend will be on June 5 and 6, 11am to 5pm; the gallery has a weekly late-evening opening on Thursdays to 9pm. Ann can be contacted on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 or at ann.petherick@kentmerehouse.co.uk.

Blue Tree Gallery marks tenth anniversary with York 2021 exhibition until May 8

York Minster, mixed media, by Paolo Lazzerini

BLUE Tree Gallery, in Bootham, York, is reopening with Covid-secure measures and temporary opening hours of 11am to 5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The York 2021 exhibition, marking the tenth anniversary of Gordon Giarchi and Marisa Giarchi launching the gallery on March 23 2011, began online on March 27, with the works “also displayed in the gallery and gallery window for those passing by”.

York 2021, featuring original paintings by Sarah Connell, Giuliana Lazzerini, Paolo Lazzerini and Mark Sofilas, will run until May 8, now both in person and at bluetreegallery.co.uk.

“With the support of our exhibiting artists, and especially our supportive clients, exposure in the media and grants assistance from City of York Council, we continue with the gallery and now see a light ahead through this pandemic,” say Gordon and Marisa.

Manchester mixed-media landscape artist Sarah Connell’s paintings are “primarily about light, atmosphere and colour”. “I have painted in traditional media ever since I can remember, but now also paint digitally, using a stylus and tablet at a computer or on an iPad,” she says.

“My parents are both creative and encouraged me as a child by buying me ‘grown-up’ paints, and sometimes my dad let me tag along with his night school art class. The fact he was a printer meant there was always paper by the ream for me to draw on.”

Dusk On The Ouse, acrylic on panel, by Sarah Connell

Sarah then read Art History and Archaeology at Nottingham University, followed by Clothing Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. “It was while studying clothing design that I first became interested in digital painting and wrote my dissertation on analogue versus digital fashion illustration,” she recalls.

“In a way, I am still exploring how traditional painting influences my digital work and vice versa. I went on to work in design and photography for a few companies, eventually going freelance and spending more and more time painting.”

Blue Tree Gallery artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini was born in Seravezza, near the small town of Pietrasanta, in Tuscany, the daughter of a professional painter and international mosaicist.

Between 1962 and 1968, she was a student at the Istituto d’Arte Stagio Stagi in Pietrasanta, gaining a Master of Arts Diploma, and then studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara for four years.

In 1987, Giuliana moved to Yorkshire, where she now lives in York. The Tuscan landscape and childhood memories still bear a strong influence on her work, her first encounters with art in Italy having been in her painter father Bruno’s mosaic studio.

Both the translucency of the mosaic fragments and the vibrancy and colours evoked by the juxtaposed mosaic pieces inspired her.

These early perceptions, several years on, provide a language and a vocabulary for her pictures in terms of the colours, surfaces and scale that she uses in constructing her tapestry-like, interlocking, angular-surfaced village landscapes.

Spring Time, Clifford’s Tower, acrylic on canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini

Architecture exists within a shallow space; structures are locked together through a medieval, narrative sort of pictorial logic.

In other works, Giuliana depicts solitary portrait images. Figures often appear with props, such as shells, cups and boats, and equestrian references sometimes appear too. Are these characters the inhabitants of Lazzerini’s interlocking Tuscan villages, or part of some ceremonial ritual?

“My work is varied and often developed from an idea encountered during a journey that takes me in an unknown territory where I grow as an artist,” says Giuliana. “I usually work in small series of paintings, where memory and imagination come to interplay. Time made me more familiar with the English northern landscape and it finally has left a mark in some of my work, as I become more intrigued by its drama and atmosphere.”

Giuliana’s brother, Paolo Lazzerini, trained at the Liceo Artistico and the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Carrara, winning numerous art prizes and being invited to exhibit in important galleries such as the Accademia of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Le Tableau Gallery in Turin, Galleria San Marco of Rome, Ponte Tresa Gallery in Switzerland and Gallery 2000 in Tokyo, Japan.

Although Paolo worked primarily as a professional graphic designer in the 1990s and 2000s, he continued to paint, presenting many solo and mixed exhibitions in Italy at Forte Dei Marmi, Turin, Edinburgh, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Monaco and Cologne. In the past few years, Paolo’s painting has become more intense, on show at many more events and exhibitions.

Mark Sofilas, originally from Western Australia, migrated to Great Britain in 2008.  “I was an illustrator with more than 20 years’ experience in the advertising industry but took the opportunity, on moving to the UK, to turn to fine art, something that I had always wanted to do,” he says.

He now paints full time from his studio in Leeds, creating oil paintings of the Yorkshire countryside, particularly coastal scenes of the heritage coast, such as the fishing villages of Whitby, Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay.

York Minster, mixed media on wood panel, by Mark Sofilas

“My paintings are very heavily guided by the emotions a particular scene or moment evokes in me. It’s this feeling that I try to convey to the viewer,” says Mark, a proud member of Leeds Fine Artists and the Association of British Naive Artists.

“It might be something as simple as smoke drifting from a chimney pot or a silhouette created by a particular light source. It may be the strength or history that emanates from an everyday object or piece of architecture.”

Over time, Mark has discovered he can best achieve emotional impact by exaggerating or characterising colour, manipulating perspective slightly and pushing shape and form to arrive, hopefully, at a “nicely balanced place”, where the image conjured has not only captured the physical qualities of the scene, but more importantly, the feeling of the occasion.

“I’m a self-taught painter; not locked into approaching my work with any particular procedure or direction in mind,” he says. “However, I take photographs of my subjects, but like to rely on memory, imagination, the ultimate goal being to recreate exactly what I’m feeling onto a flat surface.

“I don’t do preliminary drawings. Instead, I prefer to adopt a more organic approach, designing the paintings as I go. This helps the end product retain a freshness, a feeling of spontaneity. I always have an image, a mood in my mind’s eye, that I’m trying to put down, and I find that working this way allows me to be flexible; going with any happy accidents that more than likely will occur.”

Mark adds: “It’s these little surprises that I can adopt, learn from and take into my next painting. I enjoy the journey that this direct and unstructured approach takes me on, finding that it enables me to either get close to achieving what I had in mind and heart or, on occasion, arrive somewhere unexpected but just as rewarding.”

Kentmere House Gallery to reopen from April 12 with Jack Hellewell’s Travels show

Arab World, Tunis, by Jack Hellewell (1920-2000)

“AT last the gallery is able to re-open,” says a relieved Kentmere House owner and curator Ann Petherick as she marks its 30th year in business by launching Jack’s Travels, her latest Jack Hellewell exhibition in York, on April 12.

“One of the gallery’s best-loved artists, the late Jack also had an anniversary to be celebrated last year: he would have been 100 in 2020,” says Ann, who first exhibited Hellewell’s work at her original gallery in Grape Lane before moving home and gallery to a Victorian former Methodist minister’s house at the bottom of Scarcroft Hill, overlooking Knavesmire, in 1991.

“Jack first showed with the Grape Lane Gallery in the 1980s and we’ve continued to present his artworks ever since. We had planned a series of exhibitions in celebration of his centenary but had hardly started on them when all had to stop because of the pandemic.

“They will now take place this year: the first, Jack’s Travels, will open next Monday and will include many paintings that have never before been shown.”

Arcade, by Jack Hellewell

Yorkshireman Jack Hellewell (1920-20000) not only travelled widely but he also lived in Australia. “All his experiences provided inspiration for his painting,” says Ann.

Born in Bradford, Jack trained as a painter at Bradford College of Art from 1949-1952 and lived in Menston and latterly in Ilkley. He saw war service in Egypt, North Africa and Italy and then worked as a graphic designer 

His travels with his family took him to Australia, New Zealand, the South Seas, Austria and frequently to Scotland. In 1976 he gave up his design work to become a full-time painter and returned to West Yorkshire.

“All his paintings were executed entirely from memory,” says Ann. “He always refused to sketch on site, believing that ‘it ties you down’, and everything was derived from personal experiences.

Socatra, Indian Ocean, by Jack Hellewell

“His travels and encounters had a dramatic impact on his painting and he had the ability to retain the essence of a place, so that years – or even decades later – he could produce a painting from it.

Much of his work used the visual experience of intense light in warmer climates, as compared with the more subtle light to be found in Britain.”

Jack always worked in acrylic, enjoying the contrasts it offered between strong and subtle colours and the feeling of movement that became such a feature in his work.  “He had the ability both to use the medium ‘neat’ on canvas, or to use it diluted on paper to give the effect of the most delicate watercolour,” says Ann.

Jack exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, in London, on several occasions in the 1990s and his work is in the collections of British Rail, the National Power Company, Rochdale Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and Provident Financial, Bradford, among others.

Sailing Hopefully, by Jack Hellewell

To mark next week’s socially distanced reopening, under Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap to recovery, the Covid-secure Kentmere House Gallery will be open every day for the initial week, Monday to Saturday, April 12 to 17, 11am to 5pm, with extended opening to 9pm on the Thursday.

The gallery then will revert to its usual pattern: opening on the first weekend of the month, from 11am to 5pm each Saturday and Sunday, complemented by late evenings from 6pm to 9pm every Thursday. “As always, visitors are welcome at any other time by ringing ahead or just taking pot luck by ringing the bell,” advises Ann, who can be contacted on 01904 656507 or 07710 810825.

Having founded Grape Lane Gallery in 1984, Ann and David Petherick bought Kentmere House in 1991 to combine a home with an art gallery. “Having seen galleries in homes in London, we could see the benefits for buyers of viewing paintings in a home setting and browsing in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere,” reasons Ann.

“For 30 years, we have searched out talented artists from throughout the UK and have thoroughly enjoyed doing so, meeting artists in their homes and studios, many of whom have become friends.

“For 30 years, we have searched out talented artists from throughout the UK and have thoroughly enjoyed doing so,” says Kentmere House Gallery curator Ann Petherick

“It has, of course, made the lockdown period more than ever frustrating, but we managed to fit in a few days in Edinburgh last September, after a brief trip to the Lake District earlier in 2020, and we’re eagerly planning visits to Oxford, Kent, Suffolk and Scotland in the near future.”

Many of the artists exhibited by Ann are nationally known names and members of national societies, specialising in semi-figurative work, with a gallery policy of combining regular exhibitors, such as Susan Bower, John Brunsden and Michael Ewart, with artists not yet known in the north or newcomers.

“All are unique to Kentmere House,” she says, eschewing the term “contemporary” to describe her stable of artistic talent. “The word ‘contemporary’ has been hijacked and is now used almost entirely to refer to abstract and conceptual work, when in fact it simply means being produced at this time.

“The result can be that many potential buyers find the art market confusing and intimidating and don’t know where to start.”

In other words, as the ever-forthright Ann would put it, Kentmere House Gallery would make a good start from April 12.

The entrance to Kentmere House Gallery and that all important bell to ring if making a chance visit

Blue Tree Gallery’s Revive show goes online from today – and fills the window too

Follow Me, acrylic canvas, by Giuliana Lazzerini

BLUE Tree Gallery’s new online exhibition, Revive, opens today, showing original paintings by artist-in-residence Giuliana Lazzerini, Steve Tomlinson, James Wheeler and Giles Ward.

“We’re temporarily closed due to the third lockdown but still operating with online shows and displaying the artworks in the gallery and gallery window for those passing by,” says Gordon Giarchi, co-owner of the gallery in Bootham, York.

Giuliana Lazzerini, born in Seravezza, near Pietrasanta, in Tuscany, moved to Yorkshire in 1987. “My work is varied and often developed from an idea encountered during a journey that takes me in an unknown territory where I grow as an artist,” she says.

“I usually work in a small series of paintings, where memory and imagination come to interplay. Time made me more familiar with the English northern landscape, and it finally has left a mark in some of my work as I become more intrigued by its drama and atmosphere.”

Ambient Tide, acrylic on calico panel, by Steve Tomlinson

Art has always been central to Steve Tomlinson’s life, from passing his art exam and 11-plus in order to go to an art grammar school, Moseley Road School of Art, in Birmingham, to attaining a degree in Fine Art at Canterbury.

After an early career in exhibitions at the British Museum and interpretive projects for the heritage industry, he has worked on public art projects – mainly sculpture – for many years. “I’ve always painted and my work here at the Blue Tree Gallery is a further, somewhat symbolic, development of my interests in the sea and the associated physical and emotional experiences it brings,” says Steve.

“There’s a timeless reflective quality to walking on a beach or staring out to sea: it gives back a version of our own thoughts and feelings. As we occupy this threshold, our minds are filled with a sense of space, of time and our own human fragile place in the world and the paintings attempt to stimulate such a contemplation.

“The textures I create suggest the wind, the sounds of the sea and other coastal features, such as pebbles, rocks and driftwood. I hope that my work may encourage people to look beyond or within themselves and that the beholder will find a meaning that is pertinent, personal and rewarding. To quote E. E. Cummings: ‘It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.’”

Force Of Nature, abstract oil on canvas, by James Wheeler

Glasgow-born James Wheeler studied at the Glasgow School of Art and trained as a carpet designer before moving south to be the design studio manager at a Yorkshire carpet manufacturer, where he has become one of the UK’s leading carpet designers.

The importance of colour and composition in his professional designs has flowed naturally into the subtlety of hue and texture in his landscape paintings, painted primarily in oils on cork.

His work straddles the contemporary and the timeless, inviting viewers to invest in a personal interpretation of each painting.

James seeks to mix memory and desire in the light and atmosphere of his landscapes, drawing inspiration from visits to his homeland, Scotland, and from holidays spent in France, Venice and the Mediterranean islands. Closer to home, his love of the Lake District and Yorkshire scenery stirs him too.

Six Sprats, oil and acrylic board, by Giles Ward

Giles Ward is an artist and writer originally from Yorkshire, where he studied Fine Art in Sheffield before moving to Exeter to study Illustration and Graphic Design, since when he has exhibited both in the UK and overseas.

Experimentation is at the heart of Giles’s painting, pre-dominantly in oils. His canvases take on other-worldly textures with the addition of acrylics, inks, spray paint, varnishes and anything else he can lay his hands on. He is inspired by the natural world and examines the hidden worlds of colour and texture found in nature’s close-up detail.

“We may be closed but we are always ‘open’ for your queries by email and to purchase online at bluetreegallery.co.uk,” says Gordon. “You can now use the Own ArtScheme service in the comfort of your own home, paying for your art in ten interest-free monthly instalments. Just get in touch by email at bluetreegallery@hotmail.co.uk.”

Revive can be viewed online at bluetreegallery.co.uk until March 13.

David Finnigan and Peter Davis launch According To McGee’s new year of painting

Artist Peter Davis with According To McGee co-curator Ails McGee, each holding a work from his Zeitgeist series at the gallery in Tower Street, York

DAVID Finnigan and Peter Davis will launch According To McGee’s focus on contemporary artwork in 2021 with a joint show from January 8.

“We see the pending challenges of the new year as an opportunity to refocus our ambition to provide crucial contemporary painting for collectors from all over the UK,” says Greg McGee, co-owner of the Tower Street art-space in York.

“We are a gallery that champions painting and the skill set and specific cultural heft that comes with it.”

Greg and co-owner Ails McGee “never got over our mid-Nineties education as art students”. “We were told by professors that painting as a medium was dead,” he recalls.

“It was ‘bourgeois’, ‘patriarchal’, ‘colonial’ and ‘irrelevant’, when exhibited alongside its shinier competitors: performance art, installation art, light projections and conceptual art.

“Twenty-five years later, and here we are, directing a commercial, independent art gallery. We see everyday close-up just how crucial painting is to culture and the creative industries. It’s painting that people want, and it’s never going to go out of fashion.”

Skater, Old Rowntree’s Factory, by Peter Davis, from his new series for According To McGee, York

Outlining the McGees’ outlook for 2021, Ails says: “We thought if we we’re going to get the foot in the door of 2021, we’d better come accompanied with painters who reflect the confidence of us going forward to thrive as a gallery in the ‘new normal’. So, we’re honoured to bring to York the painters David Finnigan and Peter Davis.”

Greg rejoins: “Both push paint around with the panache of Nureyev. This is ground-breaking work by any standard. What’s interesting is they both prioritise a realistic element. It’s not photorealism, as such, but a vision and a precise draughtsmanship that most artists would kill for.

“Contemporary painting is one of the few genres that have been democratised to the point of silliness. A perfectly executed painting is not a relic of the patriarchy. Spilling half a pint of acrylic from hip height on a canvas is not liberating because it deconstructs Western hegemony.

“At best, it’s creative, but it’s not art. Painting demands a zeal and a focused work ethic just as much as ballet or singing opera does. David and Peter and their respective collections showcase that better than any other painter we know and are perfect for our Contemporary Painting In 2021 series.”

The McGees are intrigued by Finnigan’s work not fitting into any pigeonhole. “It’s not just photorealism, where the paint simply does the job of a camera, but a whole lot slower,” says Ails.

“He observes his subject and then begins a process we as a gallery have seen only David execute. He breaks what he sees down into components, exaggerating certain aspects while retaining the realism of others. It’s a unique, idiosyncratic dedication to harnessing his own vision.”

Evolution, an earlier work by David Finnigan, not on show in his latest exhibition at According To McGee

David explains: “Although, in recent years, my paintings have been rooted in the traditions of photorealism painting, I’m now beginning to subvert the idea of a painted version of a photograph by ‘breaking up’ or modulating the picture plane to add new dimensions via careful and intuitive use of colour and graphical composition.

“I feel my work now has more of an affinity with the ‘Precisionists’ rather than the ‘Photorealists’.”

Finnigan, by the way, is working on a new smaller painting and developing ideas for the next few in his new series. “These will share the same visual concept that the work I’ve brought to According To McGee has,” he says. “Namely, subverting the surface detail of ‘the reality’ and forcing the issue of colour foremost, by adding a new layer of composition.”

Finnigan’s paintings sit well alongside the latest collection from Manchester artist Peter Davis, who is a member of the Contemporary British Portrait Painters and an elected council member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts.

“This is truly a solid duo exhibition,” says Greg. “Peter is recognised by the industry and serious collectors as one of the most important social realist painters in the UK.

“Normally, he focuses on figures dimly lit by their own absorption in their personal technology, but this series is different: Peter has produced a collection, Living History and Technology in York, especially for According To McGee.”

Graffiti, Old Rowntree’s Factory, by Peter Davis, from According To McGee’s first Contemporary Painting in 2021 exhibition in the new year

The McGees see Davis’s new work as a natural dovetail with the art of David Finnigan, as well as with their gallery’s mission statement. “We’re a contemporary art gallery in a city known for its history,” says Ails.

“There are loads of edgy, innovative aspects to York that sometimes don’t get noticed as much as they should. As awesome as heritage is, York is also shot through with what we call ‘Living History’. This is an opportunity for collectors to add art that reflects just that to their collection.”

Peter says of his new York collection: “Living History and Technology in York is part of a new urban realist series capturing contemporary stories of people in everyday life, technology in hand.

“These three paintings feature the old Rowntree’s factory on Haxby Road and are set in different parts of the building. I really liked the idea of capturing this York landmark before it’s redeveloped.”

As the changeover of calendars fast approaches, Greg looks back on a year in the unrelenting grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Yet 2020 still turned into the utopia I initially envisaged,” he says.

“In the shadow of the pandemic, I assumed fractures and tribalism would coagulate:  it’s hard to argue about politics in the pub when there’s a plague outside stalking the streets.

Critical Mass, by David Finnigan, on show at According To McGee

“But what happened instead was the noisiest, angriest year I have ever seen, which, conversely led to huge sales of impressionistic seascapes. The bitter beauty of dark seas, offset by just enough light on the horizon, became a refuge of many of our clients.

“So much so that Ails, my wife and business partner, felt encouraged to return to the studio to pick up the paintbrush. Her collection sold out and we look forward to exhibiting the next collection in 2021.”

Ails is confident 2021 will provide a clearer pathway for creative talents on every level. “After a year where the dominant theme has been uncertainty, creative people are rolling up their sleeves and identifying where they want to be at a given point. We are no different,” she says.

“For a while, as a gallery, we spent maybe a little too much time trying to reinvent ourselves with electronic art, video art, sound art and concepts. Believe me, that stuff is as boring to curate as it is to view.

“We’re a gallery that celebrates contemporary painting, and it’s for that reason that we’re preparing for our 17th anniversary as our most successful year yet. That’s a bold claim, but we have the art of David Finnigan and Peter Davis to launch. This is about as good as it gets.”

Contemporary Painting in 2021: David Finnigan and Peter Davis runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from January 8 to February 14 2021. “We’ll be open, Covid-compliant, with no gatherings,” says Greg McGee, in the light of York’s Tier 3 status from December 31.

The Red Door, Old Rowntree’s Factory, the third new Peter Davis work on show at According To McGee from January 8

Now’s the time to add finishing touch to your home revamp with artwork, urges Kentmere House curator Ann Petherick

Strictly, one of Susan Bower’s witty works, on show at Kentmere House Gallery, York

JANUARY is always a time to rethink what you want, in terms of home, job, friends and more besides, says Kentmere House Gallery owner Ann Petherick.

“Many people have spent time this year revamping their homes. Now, it’s time to add the finishing touch that will set your interior apart from the rest: original art,” she suggests. “It costs a lot less than you think and it will last you a lifetime.   

“With an original work from Kentmere House Gallery, you will have something that will complement the style of your home and express your personality in a way that a sofa or a cushion can’t.”

Kentmere House, relaxed home to Ann’s long-running gallery in Scarcroft Hill, York, shows the work of around 70 artists, many of them known nationally and exhibited nowhere else in the north.

Sunrise At Filey, by Kentmere House Gallery regular exhibitor John Thornton,

“Promising newcomers are shown side by side with established artists, so you can back your own judgement and identify the big names of the future,” says Ann. “All are at affordable prices and you can enjoy spending your Christmas gift money to buy that special piece of art you’ve always wanted.”  

Among the gallery’s new arrivals are Susan Bower’s witty family scenes, Keith Roper’s subtle semi-abstract landscapes and John Thornton’s striking seascapes and woodland scenes.

Kentmere House Gallery will be open on the first weekend of 2021, January 2 and 3, with reductions and special offers from 11am to 5pm each day. “All are welcome,” says Ann, whose home gallery also has late opening every Thursday evening, 6pm to 9pm, and welcomes visitors at other times by arrangement on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825.

York stags and hens, racecourse revellers and gargoyles, all through the eye of Dan Cimmermann at Art Of Protest Gallery

Trout, by Dan Cimmermann, from his new Oy! Oy! collection at the Art Of Protest Gallery, York

POCKLINGTON School art master Dan Cimmermann will be painting live from 11am until darkness at tomorrow’s Art Of Protest Gallery launch of his Oy! Oy! solo show in York.

“Join us for a glass of festive fizz and check out this collection of originals based on the streets of York,” says gallery founder and owner Craig Humble, extending an invitation to a timely exhibition that merges York’s past and present.

Put bluntly, “St William’s Window versus Stags, Hens and Racecourse Revellers”. “This exhibition uses art’s first role – to make us look – as a means to encourage our thoughts about what’s important for the living vibrant reality of York today,” he contends.

“We can respect the layers of history that make our city so attractive, while embracing those who use our city for celebrating birthdays, hen dos and globally important sporting events.” 

Woo! Woo!, by Dan Cimmermann, newly on show at the Art Of Protest Gallery

Craig, who has re-located his ever-provocative gallery to No. 11, Walmgate, this autumn, continues: “Dan’s show is another example of the Art Of Protest showing the contemporary side of this ancient city. Dan is a Yorkshire artist whose work is predominantly shown in London and Tokyo, so, as an art master at the 16th century Pocklington School, it’s nice to be able to show his work a little nearer home.”

Dan’s Oy! Oy! collection has emerged from his countless visits to York. Living nearby, he enjoys the city’s shops and restaurants, making cultural visits and a day at the races. As a keen photographer as well as a painter, he often takes snaps of scenes and events that catch his eye.

Over the years, he has come to ask himself, “What is it about a city with such a heritage that attracts such gatherings of hedonism and partying?”.

“When I was looking through my photos and sketches, I was struck with the contrast between the stoic architecture, layers of history and the revellers that drive the city’s economy today,” Dan says. 

Dan Cimmermann’s studio with his works Woo! Woo! and Museum Gardens

“Whether they be the stags and hens meeting centrally from across the country, or the landed gentry celebrating a coup at the races, York is filled every weekend with drunken forms and faces finding their way around the streets and alleys.

“I kept imagining the Minster’s gargoyles looking down and wondering about how their world view had changed over the millennia”.

Reflecting on the exhibition’s timing in the shadow of the pestilent pandemic, Craig says: “To put on this show after York has seen the quietest year in its history, regarding visitor numbers at least, is the sort of juxtaposition that tweaks the interest of an artist and a gallery, now in a new location. 

“Many a local has lamented the city being overrun every weekend, but this staccato year has reminded us all that the city has the restaurants, museums, pubs and cultural investment because of the people attracted to come for whatever reason.”

To mark tomorrow’s exhibition launch, Dan will paint a mural in the backyard of Art Of Protest’s new Walmgate home. Oy! Oy! will then run until January 16 2021.

Dan Cimmermann, pictured when exhibiting at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle

Winter arrives at According To McGee as David Baumforth opens seascape show

According To McGee co-director Ails McGee and York-born artist David Baumforth assemble his Winter collection in readiness for Saturday’s opening

ACCORDING To McGee, in York, reopens on Saturday with the salty rush of David Baumforth’s new Winter seascapes.

A regular breath of seaside air at the Tower Street gallery, Baumforth’s work depicts the places he loves: the North, its coastline and hinterland.

After handing over the front gallery to York cityscape artist Richard Barnes for Lockdown: The Sequel’s innovative Window Shopping Exhibition, this forthcoming weekend is a tribute to fellow gallery favourite Baumforth, the York-born son of a turner and fitter at British Rail and a packer at Terry’s chocolate factory.

In a long career where he has won the Not The Turner Art Prize, exhibited at London’s Royal Watercolour Society Opens and Royal Academy Summer Shows and received the acclaim of TV art critic Sister Wendy, Baumforth once more embraces his Yorkshire coast and moorland muse for Winter in the latest burst of creativity from his Snainton studio near Scarborough.

“This collection is indicative of a painter who, far from resting on his laurels, continues to blossom,” says Ails McGee of David Baumforth’s new Winter works

Gallery co-director Ails McGee is delighted to see Baumforth retain his title as the “Turner of the North”. “This collection is indicative of a painter who, far from resting on his laurels, continues to blossom. The marks are fierce, even as he captures the last rays of light on winter trees,” she says.

“Most graduates we work with have admitted that they would give their left arm to paint like David Baumforth, which is vindication enough. The pre-exhibition sales that are coming in are also a welcome seal of approval.”

David, now 78, says: “It feels right to be exhibiting in a solo show in York at this stage of my career. My style may have slightly changed, but I’m not interested in gimmicks. The Yorkshire moors and its coastline are a constant source of inspiration for me. I’m happy with my work, so I feel no need for change.

Wintry blast: One of David Baumforth’s new works, capturing the season’s fade to grey

“I’d rather exhibit them in According To McGee than anywhere else as they have a good feeling for good paintings and have done so for some time.”

Ails points to the modern energy of Baumforth’s Winter depictions. “There’s something crucial, like he has something to prove,” she says. “He has always had a reputation of being irascible, but all that has mellowed out now, and whatever bristling, visionary impatience he had is now manifest in his paintings. It is painting that has brought him this far and we are at a fascinating juncture in his career.”

Ails is alluding to 2021’s landmark summer event: David Baumforth: The Final Exhibition. “David is working towards a collection that is in essence a victory lap for a painter who has redefined what it is to depict York and Yorkshire,” she reveals.

“The marks are fierce, even as Baumforth captures the last rays of light on winter trees,” says Ails McGee

“This Winter collection is a forerunner of that, and what we have here available for purchase reveals some very interesting directions David is going in. He has complete control over his vision and style and his work is simply becoming more desirable because of that.”

Co-director Greg McGee is fully recharged for Saturday’s bracing reopening. “2020 has been a turbulent year. Though we have been forced to close our doors in the two lockdowns, our clients have remained loyal and have either contacted us after peeking through our front window or have made purchases through our site.

“That aspect has been fine but, ultimately, we are a contemporary gallery and you can’t beat the energy of opening the door and allowing browsers to enjoy the new collections from excellent artists. That’s why Saturday is so important to us.”

David Baumforth: Winter runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, from Saturday, 12 noon to 5pm, daily until Christmas. The gallery also is open by appointment on 01904 671709.

“I’d rather exhibit them in According To McGee than anywhere else as they have a good feeling for good paintings,” says David Baumforth as he delivers the chill of Winter to the York gallery