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.
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!”