Kirran Shah & Amy Blackmore went to see York’s new gallery, The ArtSpace.
The ArtSpace opened three weeks ago, opposite Clifford’s Tower. Owners Greg McGee and Ails Denholm wished to create a space dedicated to Yorkshire art in all its forms. A small independent gallery, they hope it will help people reconsider the stereotype of art as an elitist activity.
It has been established locally in an attempt to give Yorkshire artists the opportunity to display their work and gain some exposure. The use of exclusively Yorkshire artists is intended to help local practitioners become more established within the artistic community. This fills a hole in York, which has a great range of aspiring artists who deserve to be recognised for their individuality. Despite York being a such small city, it houses a wide and varied art scene. The ArtSpace also aims to be accessible, to ‘break down barriers’ such as the ‘pomposity’ regularly associated with art galleries.
On visiting The Artspace, the stark white walls and simple lighting highlight the countless interesting items on display. There is handmade jewellery, ceramics and unusual bags to command your attention. Carla Ballantine’s work particularly stands out. She imports vintage cigar boxes and transforms them into bags. Great if you’re looking for something different for Christmas.
The minimalist decoration allows for great diversity in the art, which is displayed strategically around the two-roomed gallery. There is a diverse mixture, ranging from abstract expressionism to urban landscapes. The thoughtful arrangement creates a blend of colours and ensures that nothing looks out of place.
David Baumforth’s seascapes portray an uncommon blend of the abstract with a natural landscape in blazing blue adventurous strokes. Of his work, Baumforth said, “My pictures are not necessarily pretty; they are the truth.” Blue Wilson expands on this trend for hybridism with a techno-impressionist urban landscape. Jim Stafford focuses on graphic design and personal illustrations. You can view his Warholesque work at www.bran-man.com.
McGee describes his critera for selecting work: “I want [it] to be edgy, I’ve realised that darker, even paranoid paintings actually sell better.” He wants to show that York is more than tea-rooms and the Minster and is supported in his ambition by artistic collective Return Of The Artists (ROTA). This group was established by Milladdio, another local artist. McGee has been encouraged by ROTA to incorporate a wide range of artistic styles in his displays, including mixtures of textural and abstract techniques.
The gallery is also running workshops which include a Christmas Card Craft Workshop and a Saturday Sketchbook Club. McGee likes to see these workshops as creative therapy sessions with a chilled out atmosphere. The workshops are not just for students; he wants to encourage retired people and young professionals to work together as a community. However, you don’t have to be working in physical media to be represented in the gallery; McGee also sells local bands’ CDs, who receive all of the revenue.
McGee’s main aim in founding the ArtSpace is to encourage the local community to come together to express themselves artistically in a range of materials. People of all abilities are welcome to take part as well as to appreciate. He states, “I want to give all artists a chance”. This include students – just drop in to chat to McGee or Denholm.
In the same vein, the prices for workshops are fairly low in an attempt to attract a wide range of people and, if you are looking for ‘unique, quirky Christmas gifts’, students get 10% off!