Northern Ballet coup for Harrogate art gallery

The Northern Ballet studio in Leeds. (Picture By Simon Hulme)
The Northern Ballet studio in Leeds. (Picture By Simon Hulme)
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Dancers from the renowned Northern Ballet are to star in an exclusive event at Harrogate next month in an exciting sign of Mercer Art Gallery’s current vibrancy and vision.

Called Ballet at The Gallery, the performance on Saturday, February 13 sees Northern Ballet collaborating withYorkshire artist Tom Wood who enjoys close links with the publically-run gallery.

Tom, best known, though by no means defined, for his portraits of The Prince of Wales and Alan Bennett, is one of the UK’s greatest living artists with paintings commissioned by the National Portait Gallery in London.

He said he was thrilled by the Leeds-based Northern Ballet’s involvement in this adventurous new artistic project in Harrogate where his newly-created portraits will serve as the inspiration for new choreography.

“As far as I know, the idea was suggested to me by Diane Saxon at Mercer Art Gallery. I’m flattered that my work has become the catalyst for exploring new and meaningful ideas.

“I think it will be a special evening to have both the art; the source of the dance, and the dance itself in one space. It’s a unique event.”

Six members of Northern Ballet, which was named Europe’s Best Dance Company in 2014, have visited Tom Wood’s gallery in person as part of the preparation for the new piece.

This evening of the best in dance and art is an exclusive opportunity to see new work by emerging choreographers and is closely supported by Northern Ballet’s artistic direvtor David Nixon OBE and Jane Sellars, curator of Mercer Art Gallery, which is owned and run by Harrogate Borough Council.

Jane Sellars said: “Having ballet in the gallery is a first for the Mercer. Our aim is to encourage other art forms to find inspiration in our exhibitions. We are delighted to be teaming up with Northern Ballet.”

Artist Tom Wood, whose reputation also rests on experimentation with abstract art, said the collaboration was being driven primarily by Northern Ballet.

“The collaboration is very much being driven by Northern Ballet. They’re a lively, intelligent group of people and will have free rein to express fully their own creativity. I’m just doing the painting.

“Since they visited, we’ve swapped emails. I’m fascinated by their reaction to my work, how are interpreting it and how that might translate into dance.”

Northern Ballet is well known for its strong community links in Yorkshire. Each year it holds workshops for families who access Martin House Children’s Hospice.

Tickets for Ballet at the Gallery which takes place on Saturday, February 13 at 6.30pm, are available on 0113 220 8008 or online at