More Things To Do in York and beyond, from rock’n’roll raves to a comedy variant. List No. 68, courtesy of The Press, York

The Bluejays: Ready to Rave On at York Theatre Royal

GOLDEN hits, blue art, a grotesque puppet, raucous inventions, a brace of musicals and an on-trend comedian are Charles Hutchinson’s fancies for cultural gratification.

Nostalgia trip of the week: The Bluejays in Rave On, York Theatre Royal, Saturday (5/2/2022), 7.30pm

THE Bluejays, a group comprised of West End stars from The Buddy Holly Story, Million Dollar Quartet, One Man, Two Guvnors and Dreamboats & Petticoats, head back to the fabulous Fifties and swinging Sixties in Rave On.

Charting the meteoric rise of rock’n’roll, this joyful journey through these revolutionary musical decades revels in the golden days of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Neil Sedaka, The Kinks, Connie Francis, Lulu and The Shadows. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Taylor: Soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 at York Guildhall Orchestra’s concert

Beethoven at the double: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

REBECCA Taylor will be the soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 in the second concert of York Guildhall Orchestra’s 41st season.

Under conductor Simon Wright, the orchestra also perform one of Beethoven’s rarely played overtures, an 1811 commemorative work to King Stephen 1st, founder of Hungary in 1000AD.

The second half features a stalwart of the symphonic repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5,  a popular work that “demonstrates his darker side, perhaps ultimate victory through strife,” says Wright. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jane Dignum’s poster for Westside Artists’ Into The Blue exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York

Group exhibition of the week: Westside Artists’ Into The Blue at Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, until March 13, open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

EACH of the Westside Artists, a group from the west end of York, has created new work to portray a personal interpretation and concept of the exhibition title, Into The Blue, at Terry Brett’s Pyramid Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn (digital photomontage); Carolyn Coles (painting); Donna Marie Taylor (mixed media); Ealish Wilson (mixed media and sculpture); Fran Brammer (textiles) and Jane Dignum (printmaking).

So to are Jill Tattersall (mixed-media collage); Kate Akrill (ceramics); Lucie Wake (painting); Mark Druery (printmaking); Richard Rhodes (ceramics); Sharon McDonagh (mixed media) and Simon Palmour (photography).

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company cast members in rehearsal for Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical

Who will he choose? Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company in Kipps, The New Half A Sixpence Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 9 to 12, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

IN the coastal town of Folkestone, Arthur Kipps knows there is more to life than his demanding but unrewarding job as an apprentice draper.

When he suddenly inherits a fortune, Kipps is thrown into a world of upper-class soirées and strict rules of etiquette that he barely understands. Torn between the affections of the kind but proper Helen and childhood sweetheart Ann, Kipps must determine whether such a simple soul can find a place in high society.

Tickets for this Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company fundraising show for the JoRo are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, on tour at the SJT, Scarborough, from Wednesday. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Fright nights ahead: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

SOUTH Yorkshire playwright Nick Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Bracknell touring company Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel set in Geneva in 1816, where Victor Frankenstein obsesses in the pursuit of nature’s secret, the elixir of life itself.

This highly theatrical telling combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature. Designed and built by Warhorse and His Dark Materials alumna Yvonne Stone, the 6ft 4inch puppet is operated by up to three actors at any one time. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.

Jonny Holbek in rehearsal for his role of Che in York Light Opera Company’s production of Evita

“Big sing” of the week ahead: York Light Opera Company in Evita, York Theatre Royal, February 9 to 19

DIRECTOR Martyn Knight has decided to use double casting for the five main roles in Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical of people, politics and power, in response to Covid-19’s ongoing impact.

The principals have been rehearsing separately, with Alexa Chaplin and Emma-Louise Dickinson sharing the lead role of Eva Peron; Dale Vaughan and Jonny Holbek playing Che; John Hall and Neil Wood as Juan Peron, Dave Copley-Martin and Richard Weatherill as Agustin Maglidi, and Fiona Phillips and Hannah Witcomb as Peron’s Mistress.

Covid, long Covid and even physical injuries have necessitated Knight drawing up his 18th cast list at the latest count. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Con Brio, by Mark Hearld, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picture: Red Photography

Last chance to see: Mark Hearld’s Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, Upper Space and YSP Centre, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, ends tomorrow (6/2/2022)

THIS weekend is the finale to Raucous Invention: The Joy Of Making, an  ambitious, vibrant, and creative journey wherein York artist and designer Mark Hearld explores connections through collaboration and risk-taking to create bold and challenging works, including tapestries and ceramics.

Working from his Portland Street studio across a range of media and using the natural world as inspiration, Hearld has made collages, lino-cut prints, letter-press prints and a large-scale mural that fills the walls of the YSP kitchen in the visitor centre. You will need to book at ysp.org.uk.

Pandemic pontifications: Russell Kane’s new tour show, The Essex Variant!, is heading to York Barbican

Still the only subject in town by then? Russell Kane Live: The Essex Variant!, York Barbican, December 14

ENFIELD humorist Russell Kane offers his “gut-punch funny, searing take on the two years we’ve just gone through” in his new stand-up tour show, The Essex Variant!. More like, three years, by then.

Comic, writer, presenter and actor Kane presents two podcasts, Man Baggage and BBC Radio 4’s Evil Genius and is a regular on Channel 4, BBC and ITV. “I drink lots of coffee and I’m ‘like that in real life’,” he says. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Gibson: the back story

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

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

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

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

Time for two veteran hacks to despatch their verdict on Wes Anderson’s hymn to old-school journalism, The French Dispatch

The oh-so Wes Anderson film poster for The French Dispatch

CLASHING arts podcasters Chalmers & Hutch tuck into Wes Anderson’s multi-layered if synthetic cake, The French Dispatch, in Episode 62 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Under discussion too are Joana Vasconcelos’s must-see exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Steve Harley’s waspish verdict on Sting’s new single, and Created In York crafts making way for Menkind’s toys-for-grown-up-boys shop in Coney Street, York, but why has that happened?

To listen, head to: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1187561/9449972

Why Angus Vasili finds cause for optimism in his Brutalist architecture screenprint exhibition at According To McGee

J B Morrell Gallery, screenprint, by Angus Vasili, at According To McGee , York

ARCHITECTURE is the focus of Angus Vasili’s Optimism and Brutalism exhibition at According To McGee, York.

“Since the first Lockdown we found that nature does more than heal,” says Greg McGee, the Tower Street gallery’s co-director. “It can provoke and galvanise, and a lot of that energy can be found in the new seascapes or moorscapes that collectors have been buying or commissioning.

“We’ve had more collectors asking about cityscapes and depictions of architecture; something about the definition of hard angles and the certainty of edges is chiming with tastes. We thought it was about time we gave Angus Vasili a ring – and that’s how this Optimism and Brutalism show came about.”

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

The McGees are of the mind that Brutalism’s reputation is in need of rehabilitation. “It goes beyond subjective opinions,” says co-director Ails McGee. “These buildings were once loved for their linear honesty but now they’re often derided. Vasili pulls them out from ‘Architectural Cancel Culture’ and to re-evaluate them.”

By using titles such as Central Hall, Hayward Gallery and JB Morrell Library, Vasili’s latest collection gives an idiosyncratic overview of Brutalism’s greatest hits.

“They are more than mere portraits of their stark subject matter,” says Greg. “His silkscreens are at heart playful experiments. There are blushes of hot colour, dancing, broken lines, white slices of negative space deliberately alone.

Artist Angus Vasili with gallerists Ails and Greg McGee at According To McGee

“These come from a love of the process and the accidents it throws up, as much as the focused observation of a building style that most people think leaves no room for flexibility.”

Angus explains: “My fascination with concrete, industrial landscapes and what I recently came to know as ‘brutalism’ has triggered this series of screenprints. I’m combining photography, texture and printmaking to create a raw aesthetic that resonates with the fundamental material of brutalism.

“I use a combination of bold colour and texture to help convey the optimism that these architects strived to achieve with this period of architecture.’’

Hayward Gallery, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

Optimism and Brutalism will be on show in According To McGee’s front room until November 14. “It’s a sharp reminder that there’s room for more than ancient history in York,” says Greg. “There have been calls to demolish York’s Stonebow and replace it with faux Georgian gentility, which would be even more irksome, because of its sleight of hand.

“We’re opposite Clifford’s Tower, arguably York’s most famous landmark. We can see for ourselves how Vasili’s art contributes to the discussion of York’s architectural continuum, and we’re finding that our clients and collectors are in agreement.”

Gallery opening hours are: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturdays, 11am to 4pm, or by appointment on 07973 653702. For more information on Angus Vasili, go to: accordingtomcgee.com/collections/angus-vasili.

Spectrum Haze II, screenprint, by Angus Vasili

More Things To Do out and about, indoors, in and around York, and back home, courtesy of The Press, York. List No. 12

Good to be back: Musician Phil Grainger and writer Alexander Flanagan-Wright in Alex’s back garden at Stillington Mill for their At The Mill week of shows. Now they will pop down to the Pop-Up On The Patio festival.
Picture: Charlotte Graham

MUSEUMS, galleries and cinemas are welcoming you in, but in the summertime, when the weather is surprisingly fine, now is the chance to capitalise on the great outdoors, from pop-up patio shows to musical theatre in an amphitheatre.

In the interests of balance, Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations also take in a new exhibition indoors and a night in that drags on and on…in spectacular vocal and visual fashion.

Balloons, magic, jokes: Josh Benson in his Just Josh show for Pop-Up On The Patio at York Theatre Royal

Outdoors entertainment number one: Pop-Up On The Patio, at York Theatre Royal, August 14 to 29

TAKING part in a Covid-secure summer season of outdoor performances, on a terrace stage designed by Yorkshire theatre designer Hannah Sibai, will be “Yorkshire’s finest theatre and dance makers”.

Step forward York Dance Space’s Dance//Shorts; Mud Pie Arts; Story Craft Theatre for Crafty Tales; Paul Birch’s Fool(ish) Improv; The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre in Orpheus and Eurydice and puppeteer Freddie Hayes in Fred’s Microbrewery.

Look out, too, for Cosmic Collective Theatre in the cult show Heaven’s Gate; York performance poet Henry Raby in Apps & Austerity; Say Owt, the York outlet for slam poets, word-weavers and “gobheads”; magician, juggler and children’s entertainer Josh Benson in Just Josh and pop, soul and blues singer Jess Gardham.

One hat, one coat, one monologue: Chris Hannon in rehearsal for Park Bench Theatre’s production of Samuel Beckett’s First Love at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Theatre in a summer’s garden: Engine House Theatre’s Park Bench Theatre, Friends Garden, Rowntree Park, York, until September 5

ROLL up, roll up, for Samuel Beckett’s rarely performed monologue, First Love, artistic director Matt Aston’s new play, Every Time A Bell Rings, and a family show inspired by a classic song, Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Each production is presented in Covid-secure, carefully laid out and spacious gardens, allowing audience members to keep socially distanced from each other. Chris Hannon performs the Beckett piece; Lisa Howard, the play premiere; Aston’s co-creator, Cassie Vallance, the new children’s show.

Headphones or earphones will be required to hear the dialogue, sound effects and music in performances. All audience members will be given a receiver on entry; takeaway headphones cost £1 when booking a ticket online. Bring blankets or chairs.

Richard Upton as Stacee Jaxx in York Stage Musicals’ Rock Of Ages: Now he will be rocking up at Rowntree Park. Picture: Robin May

Musical celebration of the month: York Stage at Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, York, August 23 to 25

YORK Stage are bringing musical theatre back to life this summer with their first ever outdoor show, taking over the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre for three nights.

Songs from Grease, Hairspray, Cats, Cabaret, The Greatest Showman, West Side Story and many more will be sung by Emily Ramsden, Ashley Standland, May Tether, Joanna Theaker and Richard Upton under the musical direction of Jessica Douglas.

“We wanted to keep it light, with singers of great quality and a band of great quality performing songs we all know so well, presented as a concert rather than as a staged performance, so it’s very much about the music,” says producer and director Nik Briggs.

Out on the moors: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival artistic director, founder and cellist Jamie Walton.
Picture: Paul Ingram

Outdoor festival of the month: North York Moors Chamber Music Festival, Welburn Abbey, Ryedale, until August 22

AN evolution as a much as a Revolution, the 2020 North York Moors Chamber Music Festival has swapped the indoors for the outdoors, now taking place in an open marquee sited in the grounds of Welburn Abbey, Welburn Manor Farms (YO62 7HH), between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, in Ryedale.

For its theme of Revolution! in the festival’s 12th year of celebrating chamber works, the focus is on and around the music of Beethoven – the “revolutionary” – and beyond to mark the 250th anniversary of the German composer’s birth in Bonn.

Full details can be found at northyorkmoorsfestival.com. Season tickets have sold out, but do check if tickets remain available for individual concerts on 07722 038990.

Under the spell of the fell: North Eastern artist Jill Campbell, inspired by her walks on Cockfield Fell

York exhibition of the week: Jill Campbell, Featured Artist, Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, until September 19

BLUE Tree Gallery, York, is marking the opening of North Eastern artist Jill Campbell’s exhibition of intuitive and soulful landscape paintings by introducing temporary new opening hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.

“Most of my work is based on an ancient mining landscape called Cockfield Fell, where I walk nearly every day,” says Jill. “I use elements of what I see and combine these with my imagination to create my paintings.

“I’m fascinated by the fell’s strange, other worldly, abstract shapes defined by the morning shadows and framed by big dramatic skies. Its pools, pathways, mounds, dips and curves are my motifs.”

Showtime, darlings: Velma Celli in a late-summer night’s stream

Drag show of the week: Velma Celli in A Night  At The Musicals, tomorrow, 8pm

YORK drag diva supreme Velma Celli has embraced the world of the live stream through lockdown and beyond.

Velma’s satellite nights from her Bishopthorpe kitchen started in quarantine, back home in York after her Australian travels, and now she has vowed to keep these glamorous, if remote, gatherings going.

“I’m thrilled to be doing another live streamed show on August 14,” says Velma, the exotic cabaret creation of Ian Stroughair. “As venues are now closing up again in London, I will be doing more of these again! Bring on the fun! Watch out for news of special guests.”

For tickets for the live stream from Case de Velma Celli, go to: ticketweb.uk/event/velma-cellis-a-live-stream-tickets/. Tickets come off sale at 5pm tomorrow (14/08/2020); the stream link arrives via email just after 5pm for the 8pm start.

Marilyn (2009/2011, by Joana Vasconcelos: Iconic oversized silver stilettos made from stainless-steel saucepans, on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Trip out of the week: Joana Vasconcelos, Beyond, Underground Gallery and open air, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, on show until January 3 2021

PORTUGUESE artist Joana Vasconcelos creates vibrant, often monumental sculpture, using fabric, needlework and crochet alongside everyday objects, from saucepans to wheel hubs.

She frequently uses items associated with domestic work and craft to comment from a feminist perspective on national and collective identity, cultural tradition and women’s roles in society.

Crack pot: Your host standing betwixt a crockery tree sculpture at the Himalayan Gardens at Grewelthorpe. Picture: Celestine Dubruel

And what about…

LIGHTS out, sit back and enjoy the big-screen experience anew at City Screen, York, and Cineworld, York, now with masks compulsory.

Discovering Barnsley folk siren Kate Rusby’s new album of unexpected cover versions, from Manic Monday to Friday I’m In Love to Shake It Off, out tomorrow.

Walking among the flowers and sculptures at the Himalayan Gardens, Grewelthorpe, near Ripon, a gem of design all round.