It’s been another great year for the visual arts in Yorkshire. Yvette Huddleston takes a look ahead at just some of what we can look forward to in 2016.
Once again there is plenty to shout about in terms of accomplishments in the visual arts in the region over the past year – not least the fact that Leeds Art Gallery hosted the prestigious British Art Show, one of the most influential and exciting contemporary arts exhibitions in the UK – and 2016 is already shaping up to be another good year.
Leeds Art Gallery itself, however, will have a quiet period as it will be closing its doors from January 10 until spring 2017 in order to carry out essential repairs to the original roof of the Victorian building. That doesn’t mean the gallery will be keeping a low profile, far from it – around 150 paintings and sculptures from its acclaimed collection will be going on loan to more than 70 international, national and regional venues.
Some of that work is already on display at the Hepworth Wakefield which has several items on loan from the gallery for its current Gertrude Hermes exhibition. In the coming year the Hepworth continues its impressive run of presenting world-class work, beginning on February 4 with The Rhubarb Triangle & Other Stories: Photographs by Martin Parr. The Rhubarb Triangle refers to the name given to an area of land between the three Yorkshire towns of Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell famous for producing early forced rhubarb that is still picked by candlelight. Running until June 12, the exhibition will feature over 400 photographs by the British photographer and includes works from Parr’s first experience of Yorkshire.
From June to September the gallery will host the first UK survey of Stanley Spencer’s work in 15 years. The exhibition will feature a series of portraits and self-portraits spanning the whole of the artist’s career and will explore recurring themes in his work. Some of Spencer’s work will also be on show at York Art Gallery from March 24 as part of the largest exhibition of British First World War art for almost 100 years. Featuring more than 60 artworks from the Imperial War Museums, the show includes some of the most iconic images of the conflict with pieces by Spencer, Paul Nash, Percy Wyndham Lewis, William Orpen and CRW Nevinson. Entitled Truth and Memory, many of the paintings were shown at the Imperial War Museum in London in 2014 to mark the centenary of the beginning of the Great War. York Art Gallery is the only other venue to be hosting the exhibition.
The new show opening at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield later this month, takes the ideas of Victorian critic and scholar John Ruskin as a starting point to explore the act of making. In the Making: Ruskin, Creativity and Craftsmanship will see paintings, drawings and publications by William Morris, Albrecht Durer and Ruskin himself go on display alongside work by contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry. The exhibition will explore Ruskin’s ideas about creativity through a range of historical and contemporary art and craft featuring many works from Sheffield’s own collections as well as loans from other collections including those of the V&A, National Galleries Scotland, and Arts Council England.
Also in Sheffield at the Graves Gallery, an exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work focusses on a key moment in her development as an artist – the introduction of colour. Opening on February 18, Bridget Riley: A Moment of Change chronicles this point of change, showcasing a selection of paintings and studies from 1967–85.
From February 6, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park will be showacasing the work of renowned American artist KAWS. The exhibition will feature examples of the artist’s diverse practice which includes bright acryclic paintings, towering sculptures in wood and fibreglass as well as, graphic design, toys and prints.
In April the National Media Museum in Bradford will be presenting the work of American photographer Alec Soth, widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost documentary photographers. Soth takes the open road as his subject, but brings his own unique and modern twist to it. His portraits of wildernesses, desolate landscapse and haunting, intimate portraits touch quite profoundly on what it means to be human. Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves is the photographer’s first major UK show and presnts his four signature series – Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2014).
Soth was one of 13 mentors for the first national Jerwood/Photoworks Awards which recognise outstanding future photographic talent. The work of the three award winners – Matthew Finn, Joanna Piotrowska and Tereza Zelenkova will go on display at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery on January 5.
Over the summer Harrogate’s Mercer Gallery will be hosting two exhibitions celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of gardener Capability Brown. From June 18 artist Kate Whiteford’s exhibition False Perspectives explores the reality and artifice of Capability Brown’s creation with an installation of her large-scale drawings of trees complemented by her own watercolours and her choice of works on paper from the Mercer’s collection.
Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape which runs from June 25 is dedicated to the Yorkshire landscapes of legendary garden designer. The show brings together a selection of artworks, drawn largely from Yorkshire collections and includes portraits of Capability Brown and his Yorkshire clients, plans, drawings and documents by Brown, paintings of his creations and works of art that inspired his landscapes.