Mirror Paintings

As a continuation of current explorations in mapping I’ve been looking at the ‘Communications’ keys on Ordnance Survey maps; considering again the nature of decision making in life, and how one picks one’s own route through life choosing either to follow specific paths, or go ‘off piste’. Similar to The Natural Course of Things, I’m attempting to highlight the ability, on inability to follow paths according to an ability to read those ‘markers’ that guide the way. In this body of work, however, I’ve chosen to paint imaginary routes, dictated by imaginary landscapes (or voids) that are filled with the viewer’s reflection, by nature of the fact that I am painting on to mirror glass, fractured mirror glass asserting an imperfection or lack of complete control in each piece of work / reflection / route.

I’ve been selected to participate in North Yorkshire Open Studios 2017, and this body of work will be shown for the first time as part of the Open Studios exhibition at my home on South Parade, Northallerton, 2/3/4 and 10/11 June 2017 (look out for the posters in the window!).

For a free NYOS 2017 catalogue, contact the NYOS team on info@nyos.org.uk  /  01756 748529 – I look forward to welcoming you in June!

Black and White

Here’s a review, of Black and White an exhibition by Andrew Dalton at Helmsley Arts Centre, that never made it to print…

Andrew Dalton’s landscape prints look like the strong, callused hands of men that have spent their lives working the land in North Yorkshire, or manipulating steel in Teesside. Black and White by Andrew Dalton at Helmsley Arts Centre is an exhibition of bold, masculine sweeps of pitted black inky prints, of hardworking landscapes.

North Yorkshire born Dalton studied Fine Art Printmaking at London’s Central Saint Martins after which he travelled and worked in the arts for almost 20 years before returning to his home county in 2006 where he has settled with his family in Thirsk. Dalton’s attentions are now focused on his art own art practice and developing a small print workshop in Thirsk.

Black and White is not, however, a Yorkshire Tea box-esque visual translation of a rural idyll; visitors to Helmsley Arts Centre are greeted by two, large, dark, brutal prints that appear to epitomise industrial Middlesbrough. Following them is a series of arresting landscapes possessing a drama that far outweighs their physical scale as merciless skies lay bare the brutality of local weather that beats down on a patchwork of textures that builds the pictorial landscape.


A series of four more abstracted scapes see the introduction of grey into Dalton’s otherwise monochrome palette, whilst skilled draftsmanship and accomplished mark-making can be observed in Dalton’s haunting figures that punctuate the exhibition. 


To enter the bar area of the arts centre is to become enveloped in a woodland scene where Dalton’s prints of wild animals dance around the walls.


Commenting on the thread that links the subjects within his practice Dalton explains,

“I try to create images that offer the viewer ambiguous forms to consider and fill with their own meaning.” He continues, “A dragonfly, bird or figure can represent itself or the memory of an event, place or time.”

However accomplished, I have seen sufficient leaping hares to last me a lifetime, it is Dalton’s entrancing landscapes that are the real tour de force in this exhibition – they, to me, are exceptional.

• Black and White by Andrew Dalton was on display at Helmsley Arts Centre, The Old Meeting House, Helmsley, York, YO62 5DW from to 3 May to 3 June 2016.

Norman Ackroyd and John Bell on art in North Yorkshire

I recently reviewed The Original Print Show at Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk for the Darlington and Stockton Times (read about it here), and in doing so got a really interesting insight into what the future of art in North Yorkshire might/could hold…

Born in Leeds in 1938 the artist, printmaker and curator, Norman Ackroyd CBE RA, launched his artistic career as a student at Leeds College of Art before starting his postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London in the early 60s. From then on in, his career has been on a positive trajectory that has not only seen him enjoy personal success, but enjoy the success of early career talent that he has nurtured along the way. Amongst all that his rich career continues to offer, Ackroyd has never forgotten his Yorkshire roots, or his love for all that Yorkshire presents.

PR_IanDavenport_Duplex Etching Blue, Pink-hi (2)

Ian Davenport – Duplex

With passion and excitement brimming over in a voice that hasn’t been the slightest bit affected by life in London Ackroyd explained;
“3500 printmakers from all over the world to the 72 that have been selected for the show in Thirsk this year; that’s a refinement of what was hung in the Summer Exhibition by 20%! I’ve organised this exhibition for fun, but with real intention. Zillah Bell Gallery was extended a few years ago to accommodate a new floor designed specifically for showing prints in. The gallery would have been too cluttered for this kind of show before.”
Without missing a beat, the impassioned man continued,
“This new space presents a real opportunity to put on some really serious shows… there are some incredibly ambitious and skilled works in this show, and I think some of the Royal Academicians and exhibiting artists may now have solo shows up there. This is the second year we’ve organised this show – the gallery is making some good relationships with London galleries that could present opportunities to explore making the gallery in Thirsk even more of a destination.”

Indeed, the benefits of cultural tourism to the local economy should never be underestimated, and exhibitions of this standard present excellent opportunities to build upon the artistic offer in the region, in turn enhancing the lure.  Director of Zillah Bell Gallery, John Bell, commented with pride and enthusiasm;
“I believe any gallery in the entire UK would be proud to host an exhibition of this quality and depth – and, by showing their work, the contributing artists are demonstrating their belief in art in the North.

This area can take real pride in its culture, in the new Hepworth Wakefield, in the success of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and in the knowledge that so many of today’s foremost artists and writers have come from the North.

Art is for everyone – get out there and enjoy it!”