Bree Meryn: One of Yorkshire's leading artists tells us why she fell in love with the county

Bree Meryn is one of Yorkshire’s leading artists with her artwork and images now sold in a range of products, from luxury cushions to greetings cards and kitchenware. Bree and her husband, Barry, live near Skipton.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Barry and I moved here nearly 30 years ago – we’d lived in the West Midlands before that, and Barry’s work brought us up here. We instantly fell in love with the place, and I’ll never forget exploring the areas around Skipton as we started house-hunting. I recall being so impressed by the seemingly endless fields that were full of daffodils and frolicking lambs – but Yorkshire is beautiful in any season, and any weather.

What’s your favourite part of the county why?

Bree Meryn (Credit: Jacob Malinski)Bree Meryn (Credit: Jacob Malinski)
Bree Meryn (Credit: Jacob Malinski)

The Dales will always hold my heart. There’s such a rugged charm to the landscape, there are the endless stone walls, each with its own character, and the waterfalls are all stunning.

What’s your idea of a perfect day out in Yorkshire?

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A walk around the grounds of Bolton Abbey, with its combination of ancient ruins, and the gentle flow of the River Wharfe, an attempt to get across the famous stepping stones, and a nice tea in their wonderful café.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

Bolton Abbey lit with late afternoon winter sunshine. Picture: Tony Johnson.Bolton Abbey lit with late afternoon winter sunshine. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Bolton Abbey lit with late afternoon winter sunshine. Picture: Tony Johnson.

I’ll always cherish the walk on Farnhill Moor, because I spent many happy times there with my beloved spaniel, Milly, watching her having a good rummage through the undergrowth. The views from the top are spectacular.

Which Yorkshire sportsperson would you like to take for lunch?

Having time with the Brownlee brothers would be fascinating. I was lucky enough to see them, in person, at the London Olympics, and the lads winning their medals. That was so exciting. They trained a lot in the area where we live and Alistair and Johnny were at school with the children, Ben and Sophie, so I’ve always followed them with a keen interest.

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

Sir Michael Palin. What a remarkable man he is. Traveller, best-selling author, presenter, comedian, and someone who has a very deep love for the natural world.

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

Skipton Castle woods, tucked away behind the castle itself, a peaceful little area that is so close to the bustling heart of the town, and yet beautiful, and very restful as well.

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

The Devonshire Arms, at Bolton Abbey, where I’d throw a massive party for all our friends and family. I’m insisting that the weather be warm and lovely, so that we could have a glorious picnic in the open area.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The warmth of the people, and their very distinctive character. They are special people, are Yorkshire folk. They have an honest and down-to-earth nature, and I genuinely haven’t found that anywhere else. It’s made us, as a family, feel very much at home here.

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

I am married to a sports fanatic – Barry is interested in everything, rugby, soccer, cricket, you name it, and if he’s not at home here, he’s off and away on his beloved golf course. I am, however, rather tempted to get along to a T20 game at Headingley at some point, it looks a lot of fun.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

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Our favourite family place is the Whitehall Bar and Pub in Leeds, the food is fabulous and it has a lovely lively atmosphere. Nearer to home, there’s The Old Bank in Cross Hills, and that has a brilliant tapas menu. The owner, Stephen, is a highly versatile, and very talented chef.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Bettys in Ilkley is my guilty pleasure. You go there, and it’s like stepping back in time – quality food, great service, such a lovely atmosphere. And Bettys knows its market, it hasn’t tried expanding, it stays as it is, and it succeeds at every level.

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

The towns and cities seem to be in a constant state of flux, changing considerably in the last few years alone. A lot of the great little independent and specialist shops seem to have vanished, and they’ll never return. I’m saddened by the decline of the creative retail outlets, such as galleries and gift shops, and that has had a knock-on effect on our business.

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The good nature and camaraderie of the Yorkshire folk continues to shine through, however, although you’d have to have an amazingly generous sense of humour to tolerate the condition of our roads, the way that railways are run, and the so-called “levelling up” which never seems to happen.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

David Hockney, who is both an icon and an inspiration to me. I’ve admired his work for so many years, and I very much admire the way that he has embraced technology in his recent work. He’s a true innovator.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Undoubtedly, because so many of my artworks have been painted from photographs that Barry or I have taken over the years, when we’ve been out and about in the countryside.

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

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Music is always on in the background as I paint, and my Ed Sheeran playlist is the one to which I endlessly listen. My ambition is to see him play live, and in person.

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

Without a second of hesitation, it must be the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The views are spectacular at every time of year, no matter what the season, and there’s an abundance of wildlife – row and fallow deer, foxes, badgers, stoats, weasels and wonderful hares. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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