A lifetime of art from North York Moors National Park goes on show

Artist Peter Hicks. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
Artist Peter Hicks. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
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Six decades of North York Moors landscapes are celebrated in a retrospective exhibition next month by one of the region’s most prolific artists.

Peter Hicks, who turned 80 this year, has achieved national and international status for his idiosyncratic paintings of the moors. He is showing nearly 300 works, ranging in scale from 80 postcard-sized paintings to huge canvases.

The earliest picture, dating from 1956, is a portrait of sunflowers outside his first studio – his father’s converted garage near Grosmont.

A former art teacher born in Osgodby, East Yorkshire, he has spent most of his life in the Esk Valley, and says the exhibition represents a lifetime of self-discovery as an artist.

He said: “I revisit childhood thoughts and experiences and realise how important they are to my work.

“My memories of childhood in the woods, streams and fields around Grosmont are almost all idyllic, yet they are pockmarked with fearful moments during air raids, as the sound of enemy aircraft could be clearly heard.”

His practice is to look at the moors landscape not only as a painter but also a historian.

“When I look at a hillside, I’m seeing how it’s evolved, how weather and time have changed it,” he said.

Some of the history is less personal, and one set of Mr Hicks’ paintings has been inspired by the story of the hospital ship Rohilla, which ran aground near Whitby in 1914 with the loss of 83 lives.

The exhibition will also include a sunset painted as part of Mr Hicks’ degree show when he went back to college in the 1980s to study for an MA. It was the first in a series of seven paintings of a walk through the night, in Fryupdale in the North York Moors National Park.

The five-week exhibition, at the Inspired By gallery in Danby, will be opened on September 9 by Lady Marie-Noelle Worsley, from Hovingham Hall in the Howardian Hills.

The gallery, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, hosts temporary exhibitions of work by contemporary artists and craft workers who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.