My Yorkshire: Artist Maxwell Doig

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Huddersfield-born artist Maxwell Doig trained at the Slade and studied anatomy at University College London. He now lives back in his hometown.

What was your first Yorkshire memory? Sitting in the back garden, on the lawn looking up at my mum putting the washing out on the line. My memory of this moment, with blue sky and white clouds is very clear. I was about three years old.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why? The landscape around Huddersfield with its moorland hills, wooded valleys and traces of its industrial past. From high up on Bolster Moor you can see into and across the Colne Valley which leads into Huddersfield. There are always interesting viewpoints because it’s so hilly.

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend out in Yorkshire? Going out for a walk on a sunny autumn morning. Through Mag Wood, which is nearby, along the River Holme and stopping to take a few photographs of the abandoned Lord’s Mill. Lunch at Hinchliffe’s farm shop and restaurant with my partner Nicola. Then onwards to the hills and plateau of Deer Hill reservoir. If it’s a weekend, then a peaceful day on the east coast at Port Mulgrave with Nicola.

Do you have a favourite walk or view? I have so many favourite walks. From Deer Hill reservoir you can see for miles on a clear day. Another begins high up on Pole Moor. Walking along New Hey Road with Scammonden Dam below on the right and then down the valley side towards Deanhead reservoir. Then back alongside Scammonden Dam.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner? James Mason. North by Northwest is one of my favourite films. He was an interesting person; he trained as an architect before he became an actor.

If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be? I know so many, it’s hard to narrow it down. The lovely old church, St Stephens, in Fylingdales near the coast or Lord’s Mill near Honley, if you like industrial architecture. It was built in 1792.

If you could choose somewhere or some object, from in Yorkshire, to own for the day, what would it be? I have been painting allotments for the last couple of years, I find them visually interesting and I like that they stand for health and independence. I would really like a day pass to visit Lowlands allotments in Mirfield, especially at this time of year. On a sunny autumn afternoon with the sun low in the sky, the light glows through the greenhouse glass, it’s really nice. I would spend the afternoon drawing and taking photographs.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Its stone and the buildings made from it. The weather shapes the buildings and people too.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? Hinchliffe’s restaurant and farm shop in Netherton, Huddersfield. We go there often for lunch; it’s really nice. It has simple menu: soup of the day, sandwiches, salads, burgers and homemade cakes.

Do you have a favourite food shop? Hinchliffe’s farm shop. Locally sourced food and friendly staff. We stock up on local vegetables, free range eggs and Cornish pasties.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed for better or for worse, in the time you have known it? For worse, definitely more traffic on roads which used to be quiet roads. For better, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has gone from strength to strength since the mid-80s. It’s now a major international venue.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? The poet Tony Harrison because I think he’s a great poet. His poems are visceral and scholarly. His collection The Loiners and his poem V are particular favourites of mine.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work? Yes, the parts of Yorkshire I know have influenced my work. Over the years, I’ve absorbed their texture, for example, the weathered sandstone walls and stone roof slates of the Huddersfield area, or the beached boats of Port Mulgrave. They give me a sense of place.

Who is your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer? A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. My favourite CD would be music by folk singer Norma Waterson.

What are you working on at the moment? A painting of Westwood Mill in Linthwaite. The Mill was built in 1798 and is a very interesting abandoned building. The roof has fallen in so you can see right through the building on the upper floor. I have also been very busy getting ready for a A Sense of Place an exhibition which has just opened at Huddersfield art gallery. It consists of paintings, drawings and monotypes of buildings, boats and places I know, most of which are in the Huddersfield area or on the Yorkshire coast at 
Port Mulgrave.

Maxwell Doig has been shortlisted for the high profile fourth biennial New Light Prize Exhibition, which will tour three various art galleries, including Barnard Castle, to January 18 and Huddersfield Art Gallery, March 10 to June 18.