Beneath the great east window and in the shadow of the seventh century crypt, a still life painting of peaches on a table is a curious juxtaposition – but that, said one of the organisers, was the point.
In Yorkshire’s cathedral to creativity, the last frames were being hung yesterday, in time for this morning’s opening of the Great North Art Show. During the next three-and-a-half weeks, some 20,000 visitors will come to see, and in some cases, to buy.
“The most exciting part is the diversity of techniques and ways of making art. It shows that anybody can produce really good quality work,” said Wendy Orme, a local artist who conceived the show 17 years ago, having become frustrated that there were few opportunities to exhibit and sell work in the region.
“I’m always amazed at the amount of really good art that’s out there and a lot of it doesn’t get seen,” she said.
“So part of our job is to get these people to come and exhibit publicly so that people can appreciate the quite exceptional work that artists in the North are producing.
The still life is the work of Gill Gathercole, a Sheffield-based artist whose work, along with that of more than 60 others, is now decorating the walls of Ripon Cathedral.
“It’s a huge shop window and we’re exhibiting in the most magnificent space,” Ms Orme said. “I don’t think there are many exhibitions like this anywhere in the country.”
Those chosen to exhibit were selected by a panel of judges from an open field, with each submitting a body of work.
“Each artist has their own mini exhibition,” Ms Orme said.
“This year, we’ve got a lot of new artists we haven’t exhibited before.”
A further round of judging will pick Best in Show works in four classes.
Ripon’s Gothic cathedral was chosen as the venue after several, less atmospheric spaces were considered. Ms Orme, who has in the past exhibited her own work, said: “It needed a spectacular area that was big enough to hold an exhibition, and this very fine cathedral was on our doorstep.”