Joanne Shaw: Meet the Yorkshire artist whose work is collected the world over - including by King Charles III

Joanne Shaw is one of Yorkshire’s finest artists and many of her works are in national and international public and private collections – including that of King Charles. Castleford-born and raised, Joanne works from her studio at home.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Going over to see my grandmother in Kippax, and entering a whole world of adventure – going off on rambles with my sisters (I have a twin, Vikki, who is older than me by three minutes, and she never ever lets me forget it and an elder one, Alison). We often went over to the east coast, and played on the sands. For us children it was sheer bliss. Vikki and I were the first identical twins to be born into what was then the new Castleford Maternity Hospital, and mum thought that she was just having one child – albeit a rather large one. But we were placed on top of each other, so they could only detect one heartbeat. She was a little surprised when she discovered that she now had two daughters, and not one.

What’s your favourite part of the county?

Joanne ShawJoanne Shaw
Joanne Shaw

Our coastline, which is so varied. I love going for long walks on the sand, looking at the textures beneath your feet, and the colours of the sea (they are always changing, no two seconds are the same), it’s my therapy. We have a caravan at Bridlington, and it’s well used in all seasons, believe me.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

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It would certainly be with my Jack Russel/pug cross, Beau, who has immeasurable vitality, and we’d probably be resting after the walk up Roseberry Topping. I once did the Three Peaks Challenge – but one after the other, and not all on the same day. I like my walking, but that would have required far more energy than I have stored up inside.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson would you like to take for lunch?

Dickie Bird – I’m not the greatest fan of cricket, but I admire this man beyond belief, for his openness, honesty, and his forthright views. I’d just wind him up, and let him go off on one. It would be fun if, as I was listening to him, I could be painting his portrait. Mind you, my feeling is that Dickie would deliver so much information, all of it fascinating and fun, that I’d probably have to take a packed lunch and a sleeping bag.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

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Sir Patrick Stewart. He had a troubled childhood and early life, and yet he’s become one of our greatest actors. Such a versatile performer, from the RSC and the classics, to those big film franchises.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

Fairburn Ings and Newton Woods, where my dad and sisters used to go for long walks – at any time of the year, and in all weathers. Snow, mud, wind in our faces some times, sun on our backs at others. Wonderful memories.

If you could own, or have access to, one thing in Yorkshire for a single day, what would that object or place be?

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David Hockney’s studio in Bridlington, when he used to live there. It would be just him and me, and, when he was out of the room, I’d shamelessly open up all the drawers and cupboards, just to discover his little tricks and techniques. I’m a firm advocate of painters constantly looking at the work of other artists, from whatever period, or whichever techniques they use or used. It’s the only way that you learn, and get ideas.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The people, the ones who graft hard to make a living – I could spend all day talking to those of an older generation, because they are the ones with experience and knowledge. Of course, I love the landscapes as well – no one part of the county is the same as another.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

Coming as I do from Castleford, you must follow the Tigers, it’s part of the community spirit of the town. I always keep an eye on the scores, although I confess that it is a long time since I went to a match.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Castleford Market used to be the go-to place for just about anything you needed, but it fell onto hard times, which was sad. There are now some exciting plans to regenerate it, and I hope that they come to fruition, that would be exciting, and a revived focal point for the community.

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How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

There are more galleries, and so many aspiring and very talented craftspeople getting out there and being discovered in all sorts of outlets, but elsewhere, job opportunities have dwindled, factories have closed, and there are cutbacks everywhere. I used to teach part time in a school for children with special needs, and you could see them start to blossom and thrive – until down came the axe. Back to square one.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Absolutely, because I wouldn’t be the artist that I am if I hadn’t been bought up in the environment I was so lucky to be born into. Art can travel the world, it can go anywhere, be anything. If there are knocks (and there are a lot of them) well, you simply pick up your brushes, look at your canvas, and you get going again.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

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It’s the book, and the subsequent film of, Barry Hines’ Kes. Groundbreaking for its day, in that it showed a vivid picture of real life, in a real world, and not some sort of tinselled fantasy. I love it still.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?

Whitby, for its history, its people, the of life there, the beaches. And the contrasts – there’s St. Hilda and her Abbey sitting atop the cliff, and Bram Stoker, scribbling away in a hotel parlour down below, and giving the world his creation of Dracula. It’s an amazing place – what’s not to love?

Recent work by Joanne Shaw can be viewed at Davie Fine Art, in Castlegate, Tickhill, South Yorkshire.

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