Real Home: a rainbow of colours

This cosy and colourful home and gallery in Masham was created by artists Ian Scott Massie and Josie Beszant. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Gary Longbottom.

Josie Beszant and Ian Scott Massie have lost count of the number of pictures they have on the walls of their characterful, colourful, higgledy-piggledy cottage in the market town of Masham.

They are both artists so their own work is there, of course, but half of their ground floor is a gallery so they are continually tempted to buy.

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“Josie has had a gallery in Masham for 25 years, so we've ended up with quite a lot of pictures by artists we like. We rotate them as we haven't got room to put them all up,” says Scott, who is a prolific painter.

He began painting when he was a music student at Durham University and although he still teaches music, art is his main focus.

His success is not just down to his style, which he describes as based in the British Romantic School of the 1930s and 40s with the philosophy of Paul Nash and John Piper combined with the painterly freedom of Turner and Whistler.

He makes great efforts to capture the spirit of the places he paints and his atmospheric watercolours and the books of his art, prose and poetry are sought-after.

Yorkshire features heavily in his work but he travels extensively and has captured landscapes and cityscapes all over Britain.

Among his favourite places and those he paints most often are Masham, Durham, Lindisfarne and the Yorkshire Dales.

Josie, who founded and runs the Masham Gallery and is co-organiser of the popular Crafted by Hand fairs at Masham Town Hall, specialises in collages combined with found objects.

The couple bought their live-work home on Market Place in 2001. The oldest parts are medieval and, although it looks small from the front, it is a Tardis. It began life as three medieval buildings, which were turned into one in the Georgian era.

Once home to masons and cabinet makers, its creative use continues with a gallery/shop, large living quarters and art studios for Josie and Scott.

“We rented rooms on the ground floor and moved the gallery in there first. We had an agreement with the owner, a lovely joiner, that we would buy the building once we had sold our own home. “It took two years but he honoured the agreement,” says Josie.

It needed a complete renovation but the couple were undaunted. They are both adept at DIY and had restored their previous property, a converted chapel.

Between them they have tackled everything from plumbing and carpentry to plastering and decorating.

“We said we wouldn't take on another project after doing the chapel but I'm glad we did even though this place needed a huge amount of work,” says Josie.

The gallery now takes up a large section of the ground floor.

“One of the most wonderful parts of the job now is that more people understand how much time and effort goes into making and they appreciate it. TV programmes like the Great Pottery Throwdown have helped,” says Josie, who has made the space homely and inviting.

Behind the gallery is a small kitchen, where Scott loves to bake and at the back of the house is a music studio, which boasts a Napoleonic range and walls hung with instruments, including an Oud and an Appalachian dulcimer. Creating the studio was one of the biggest projects. It had been part shed, part office and the range was covered in Fablon. This look is captured for posterity as it featured in the 1975 TV drama Days of Hope, which was directed by Ken Loach.

The neighbouring room is a waiting area for Scott's music students. The backdrop is zingy orange walls and the small space houses everything from religious artefacts and relics to items brought back from travels in India.

The glass case of tiny animal bones, including bird, mole and snake skulls, belonged to a friend's father who was a zoologist. “No-one wanted it so she gave it to me and I love it,” says Josie.

On the first floor, a large sitting room is painted in their favourite purple/aubergine and grey shades. Furniture is a mish-mash of “cast-offs, vintage, new pieces and Ikea,” according to Scott, while Josie describes the overall look as a “a mix of contemporary, old and handmade with a random accumulation of oddities”.

They admit that minimalism is not their style, which is just as well as the property suits the maximalist approach.

The guest bedroom is calmer, with wallpaper and a lamp by Hebden Bridge-based Hannah Nunn, which is complemented by a wardrobe with hand-painted designs by Josie. The huge bathroom is home to a large tub, plenty of books and a collection of Sunderland Ware.

Keen beachcomber Josie also fashioned a piece of a wooden boat into a cupboard and used her sewing skills to make many of the soft furnishings in the house. The making happens on the top floor, where there are two art studios, which are sacrosanct.

“It's a big house, especially now our two children have grown up and left, but I can't imagine ever moving,” says Josie. “This place suits us and I'd like to think we will stay here forever.”

The Masham Gallery is at 24 Market Place, Masham, and sells work by artist and makers, many of them from Yorkshire.

Its latest exhibitions run until December 31 and include Regeneration with blue-black etchings by Janis Goodman; The Romantic Ruin by Ian Scott Massie, which features paintings celebrating the romantic quality of some of the North's evocative ruins.

After the Sun, a lighting exhibition, includes lamps and shades by Hannah Nunn and A Northern Light, among others.