If you live in Harrogate – and you fancy a paddle in the sea – on either the east or west coast, you’ve got a bit of a trek first. It’s around 65 miles to Morecambe and about the same to Scarborough. The prospect of enduring repeated calls of: “Are we there yet?”, “How much longer?” and “I need the loo”, is enough for most of us to opt instead for an ice cream in Valley Gardens. It can be even worse if there are children involved.
However, thanks to some sort of magic, together with the brilliant curation of the team at Watermark Gallery on the town’s Royal Parade – a trip to the seaside can be much closer until 30th August. The gallery’s latest exhibition: ‘Harrogate By Sea’ opened recently and last night a special viewing evening gave art-lovers the opportunity to soak-up the work of both Emma Holliday and Andrew Morris. Nobody arrived clutching a bag of chips, so the threat from dive-bombing seagulls was minimal, but there was an abundance of the coolest ‘seaside biscuits’ to enjoy, along with some perfectly chilled wine.
Emma Holliday is a Newcastle-based artist whose paintings are happy and beautiful in equal measure. The vibrant colours she uses perfectly capture the light, in works depicting Northumbrian and Yorkshire coastal scenes. Using both oils and acrylic, Holliday works straight from life – and in doing so, possibly captures something that can’t be photographed or sketched and worked up back in a studio. Everyone viewing her work will have a favourite piece, for a particular reason. Whether you’ve hunted for shells with the kids on the beach at Warkworth, or held hands with someone special on the Pier at Saltburn, Holliday’s work is guaranteed to whizz you back to your very own precious seaside moment.
Andrew Morris is originally from Harrogate and based in Brighton. After a career in commercial illustration, he now concentrates without distraction on producing unique and engaging work, centred on man-made landscapes and structures. Morris works from photographs and sketches, often combining different scenarios to create a new, imagined product. His pedigree as a commercial artist is evident in his Watermark Gallery hangings: You sense that you are looking at exactly what matters to him. There is no ambiguity. Morris’s use of light and colour masterfully hold up a lens to often ‘faded’ subjects, cementing them in place as part of a new creative landscape. Working in acrylic, Morris is able to capture both exclusivity and accessibility through his work.
For admirers of Andrew Morris – there is also an additional, incredibly special opportunity this month to view a retrospective exhibition of David Morris – Andrew’s father, who studied at Slade School of Art – and in addition to being an exquisite printmaker, also taught at Harrogate’s former School of Art.
‘A Life in Printmaking’, runs 21st August – 4th September at the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk and features paintings, drawings and etchings of Yorkshire’s coast and landscape.
The work of both Holliday and Morris are a perfect fit for Watermark Gallery this summer – and if there is a tricky decision to be made about which coastal idyl to visit – east or west…forget it and set sail for Liz and Richard Hawkes beautiful seaside creation. There are even deckchairs!
‘Harrogate By Sea’ runs 29th July to 30th August at Watermark Gallery, 8 Royal Parade, Harrogate, HG1 2SZ. (Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm.)
‘David Morris – A Life in Printmaking’ runs 21st August to 4th September at Zillah Bell Gallery, 15 Kirkgate, Thirsk, YO7 1PQ.