Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
3:00 AM 19th July 2022

Mercer Gallery Celebrates Young People

Zoomin and Harvest by John Hoy
Zoomin and Harvest by John Hoy
The vibrant and critically successful modern British abstract art exhibition currently mounted at Harrogate’s Mercer Gallery will become the focus of a specially funded work placement for nine lucky Harrogate sixth formers.

Young people from the town’s Harrogate Grammar and St Aidan’s High school sixth forms are being given a unique opportunity to not only work alongside Mercer Gallery curators, gaining expert insight into the current exhibition, but will also have the chance to work on a real project with Destination Harrogate PR and marketing professionals and graphic designers from Studio One.

Mercer April 2022-62_Karen Southworth
Mercer April 2022-62_Karen Southworth
Curator Karen Southworth said: “We are very excited about having the group work with us as it will effectively allow us to connect with the ‘experts’, helping us learn more about how young people respond to art and the best ways of marketing it to them. For the students, this placement, which has been kindly funded by the Arts Society & Harrogate DFAG, offers a results oriented assignment which will be great experience for those interested in pursuing a career in the art world or in campaign management. So it’s a real win-win!”

"Celebration is stunning collection of 60 paintings – several on a heroic scale – from 12 leading British Abstract artists, including Yorkshire’s Patrick Heron and John Hoyland, along with acclaimed contemporary Abstract painters, Mali Morris and Fred Pollock.

"The middle years of the 20th Century saw a sea change in the British art scene, triggered by the first UK exhibitions of the theatrical, visceral abstract art by American artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

“Painting is a visual language,” explains curator of the Mercer Art Gallery, Karen Southworth. “You don’t need to understand it, you just need be open to these loud, colourful canvases and allow yourself to engage.”

Old Whisp 1 by Mali Morris_pic by Gary Lawson
Old Whisp 1 by Mali Morris_pic by Gary Lawson
The exhibition is mainly drawn from one outstanding private collection, with supporting works loaned from the artists themselves or their estates. Highlights include several paintings by Sheffield born John Hoyland (RA), one of the most inventive and dynamic abstract painters of the post-war period. His work was celebrated in a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1999 and he was the first artist to be shown at Damien Hirst’s Gagosian Gallery. There also features one untitled piece by the elusive collagist Francis Davison, previously shown at his retrospective exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1984. Damian Hirst has spoken openly of his admiration for Davison, whose wife, Margaret Mellis (one of the St Ives group) was mentor to Hirst. Patrick Heron’s Very Soft Yellows and Formal Reds (1968), a piece from the Harrogate Fine Art Collection, was critiqued by the author AS Byatt in a feature entitled In Praise of Patrick Heron for The Guardian in 2015.

Celebration also features the work of: Patrick Jones, Gary Wragg, John Edwards, Gillian Ayres (RA), Fred Pollock, Douglas Abercrombie, Mali Morris (RA), Albert Irvin (RA) and John McLean.

Writer & Curator Sam Cornish, added that: “These paintings are positive, affirmative statements in light, space and colour, and the materiality of paint and canvas.

“Far from being ‘pictures of nothing’, each offers a world for us to explore. Inevitably individual viewers will find some of these worlds more accommodating than others. Some images will assert their presence across a room, others will work their magic in close quarters. All will open up as time is spent with them.”

Celebration has been financially supported by Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery.
The exhibition which is free to enter is open daily Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm and runs to 4 September.