An exhibition by Harland Miller in York has proved to be one of the city’s most popular shows in recent years – and memorabilia is already attracting interest online.
Miller’s fans have included Sir Elton John and George Michael, and £30 commemorative posters from his largest ever solo exhibition, York – So Good They Named It Once, are being offered for as much as £1,000 on online auction sites. New Chancellor and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has also confirmed he owns a painting by Miller.
The show, which opened at York Art Gallery on Valentine’s Day, saw 4,000 visitors in its first week. An initial print run of the posters, which depict a reworked version of the 2009 work, York – So Good They Named It Once, sold out on the first weekend.
Miller, who grew up in York where his elderly mother still lives, claimed he is “over the moon” about the exhibition being staged in the city.
He added: “People have asked if this has been a dream come true and I found myself answering: 'No - simply because as a boy walking round the gallery, it would have seemed foolish to even dream of such a thing'.
"So suffice to say I’m incredibly gratified the reaction -it seems, has been so great.”
Miller’s work has won critical acclaim for playfully fusing the classic design of the dust jackets of Penguin Books in the 1950s and 1960s with often darkly humorous titles, including Death, What’s In It For Me? and There’s More To Life Than Catchphrases, But Not a Lot!
The York exhibition features a room dedicated to his Pelican Bad Weather Paintings which humorously recollect the holiday resorts of his childhood.
Titles include Whitby, the Self Catering Years as well as Sandsend, Ninety Three Million Miles From The Sun and Scarborough, Have Faith in Cod.
The head of fundraising and communications for the York Museums Trust, Charlotte Kindesjo, said: “The response to Harland’s home town show has been absolutely brilliant.
“It is testament to the brilliant art Harland creates, which sparks a connection with so many people locally, regionally and also around the world.
“We would like to thank everyone who has bought a memento of their visit to the exhibition. All the income we make helps us to care for the collections and buildings in our care and bring more fantastic events and exhibitions to the city.”
Miller’s work has become increasingly sought after since he first dabbled with the use of book covers in his art while living in Paris in the 1990s. Alongside Sir Elton and George Michael, Ed Sheeran has also bought his art.
Two pieces of Miller’s work sold in an auction of Michael’s art collection in March last year following the singer’s death in 2016. The sale raised more than £11m for good causes.
Soraya Rodriguez, the associate director of the White Cube contemporary art gallery which has helped organise the York exhibition, said: “This show represents a homecoming for Harland as he returns to exhibit in the very gallery where he first encountered great art.
“Embraced by locals, the show has been extremely well received in the press and with significant attendance.”
Miller's show at York Art Gallery represents his largest solo exhibition to date, featuring 30 works with many loaned from private collections.
The York – So Good They Named It Once exhibition runs until May 31.