The art to see now: Artists’ mix and match at St Mary’s

10 Aug 2014 @ 4.59 pm
| News

Jayne Dwyer on an intriguing new exhibition, a stunning scarf and a trip down Poppy Road

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Simon Venus, ‘Passed On’ (detail), 2014. Click to see the full image

I am not quite sure how I feel about the latest exhibition at York St Mary’s.

Finding The Value explores the collection of Peter Madson, who left his vast collection of art and artefacts to the York Museum Trust in 2011.

Five artists – Andrew Bracey, Alison Erika Forde, Yvette Hawkins, Susie MacMurray and Simon Venus – have made new works, using “raw materials” from Madson’s collection.

There are some interesting ideas here. I like Susie MacMurray’s Legacy 1. It is a simple concept: the artefacts are precious and by wrapping them in gold and hiding what they are, could arguably make them intriguing.

I also like how Yvette Hawkins has worked with silk worms, accelerating and exaggerating the aging of Madson’s collection of books.

What I am not sure about, is whether I would have liked the original artefacts even more. After all, old things are interesting. Look at me!

I might have left feeling a little underwhelmed but my reaction to Andrew Bracey’s contribution to the exhibition left me positively weepy.

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Click to see the full image

Crying in galleries is not a first, but it has been a while and I wasn’t prepared.

Bracey has carefully painted out key figures with a harlequin pattern. The figures dance around the antique prints, like clowns. It is a kind of sacrilege.

I think I see the point – I am known to annotate a book to death until it belongs to me – but I left wanting to cry and it kind of spoilt my day.

I have had to reflect, would I have ever been interested in the Madsen collection if it had not been fooled around with? Suddenly, I care about these odds and ends. Is this the point?

I recommend you go and find out for yourself. As ever, York St Mary’s accommodates the pieces well. Everything is always perfectly placed. Go! It is far better to feel something about what you have seen, than to feel nothing.

Beautiful app

All of this reflection has made August a strange and melancholy month so far. My artistic highlight this week was a commemorative app called Lights Out – a set of four short films devised by Jeremy Deller, commissioned by 14-18-NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commission.

As far as I know, there isn’t any York connection, other than the obvious connection that we should all be remembering, but artwork simply deserves a mention.

One of the films gives a clinical account of death; in another we watch the striking and burning out of matches. The films are a little obscure, but they are beautifully presented, simplistic and a moving reminder.

Stunning scarf

york-preaching-scarfMeanwhile, York’s own Railway Chaplain, Stephen Sorby, wore a beautiful preaching scarf for the memorial service at the Cenotaph, before the lights went out in York and across the country.

The stunning scarf, by Miranda Holmes, combined traditional needle felting techniques to depict the poppy fields. Miranda is a fledgling felter, but her piece goes to prove what can be achieved when there is a purposeful reason for doing something creative.

Talking of poppies, I am going to hijack my own blog now to mention the Poppy Road Poppy Project. Although this is not strictly an art project, I am going to argue that what has been created is a piece of living art.

The area is now looking very photogenic as the poppies and wildflowers are taking charge. The land on the site of the old carriage works has been transformed into a haven and the Memorial Arch has been given a new energy.

I am still in awe of the group of dedicated volunteers that made this happen. Every time I pass, it makes me smile!

Art to make you smile (or cry) this August

Inspirations Exhibition Paintings, drawings and photography from students on York Learning art courses. City Screen, until August 20

Finding The Value Contemporary artists explore aspects of the Madsen Collection, York St Mary’s until November 2

Keith Roper, Open Skies Oils and pastels of the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds. Kentmere House Gallery, Thursdays 6-9pm, or call the gallery on 01904 656507 for viewings

York Open Studios ‘Call for Artists’ Deadline 8th September

Victorian Art: through the Career of John Everett Millais With Dr Katie Tyreman Herrington. King’s Manor, Tuesday, August 26, 1-4pm, £10. Book via the York Lifelong Learning website

An Introduction to the Decorative Arts and Antiques With Melissa Gallimore MA. Fairfax House, Monday, September 1, 9-noon, £10. Book via the York Lifelong Learning website

Ethereal Landscapes: Lynne Glazzard, Stef Mitchell and Kimberli Werner The White Room Gallery, Priestley’s No.36, Bootham, York

Le Tour Yorkshire: Contemporary Paintings of the Northern Route Artist Richard Barnes. According To McGee, Tower Street, until September 1

“Le Tour” – A Yorkshire Journey Exhibition continues at Blue Tree Gallery until August 25

Peter Watson has a painting featured in The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate in Art And Yorkshire From Turner To Hockney, which runs till October

Peter Miller, A Walk Across England An exhibition of new work, Ken Spelman Bookshop and Gallery, Micklegate, from September 14