God’s County is often associated with puddings, terriers, industry and cycling, but the stunning landscape of the county has also inspired many people to express themselves creatively in the form of art and painting. Yorkshire is a hotbed for art and the county is full of amazing art galleries which showcase a variety of styles from classical paintings to modern artwork.
There are so many art galleries all over Yorkshire so no matter whether you are staying in accommodation around the Robin Hoods Bay area in North Yorkshire or are visiting another part of the county, there will be an art gallery which will be a short distance away.
In this guide, we take a look at the best art galleries that you can visit as well as share information about popular artists living in the area who have galleries that visitors can head to.
Art galleries to visit in Yorkshire
•Robert E Fuller Gallery
•Scarborough Art Gallery
•Yorkshire Sculpture Park
•Cartwright Hall Art Gallery
Robert E Fuller Gallery
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire
The Robert E Fuller Gallery showcases the full range of original paintings, sculptures and prints of the wildlife artist. Nature lovers will adore the gallery as you can also enjoy Robert E Fuller’s latest films and can watch live ‘nest cams’ for owls, kestrels and stoats.
Jayne Bell, the Gallery Manager, told us why the gallery is so popular with visitors: “Our gallery provides a tranquil place and a peaceful haven to enjoy wildlife. We have wildlife prints and original paintings as well as wildlife videos created by Robert and his team. We also live stream the wildlife in their secret habitats, so you can see the wildlife as it is happening from barn owl eggs hatching to weasels and stoats playing in the garden. You will receive a warm welcome, a free cup of tea or coffee and an amazing experience.
“Our customers love the experience of the gallery and return time and time again throughout the changing wildlife season. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to visit, a customer yesterday said to me ‘In all my life I have never been made to feel so welcome and looked after, you have spent time with me and talked to me about the gallery…. and the wildlife, well it is simply breathtaking!’ For me as gallery manager, it is a huge compliment and I know that when someone says that we are getting it right here at the Robert Fuller Gallery.”
What’s more, is that the gallery is beautifully located in the North Yorkshire countryside, so you can stop off at the gallery and go hiking on a nearby trail after your visit!
The Tetley is a pioneering centre for contemporary art located in the stunning art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery.
Speaking to us about what visitors to the gallery can expect, Hannah Keating, the Marketing and Communications Manager for The Tetley, said: “The 1930s building was transformed in 2013 to house unique gallery spaces and a busy Bar & Kitchen. From the heart of Leeds’ South Bank, it creates a platform for amazing emerging artists and presents breathtaking free exhibitions.”
More than 120,000 people visit the Tetley each year and throughout the year it serves as a destination where visitors can explore new and exciting works and take part in workshops, talks and events.
Scarborough Art Gallery
The Scarborough Art Gallery, originally called Crescent House, boasts permanent collections of fine art as well as hosting temporary exhibitions that display work by local, national and internationally renowned artists.
The art gallery is located in a Grade II Italianate villa that is one of the most eye-catching buildings in the town and was originally built as a family home in the late 1840s. Now you can see works from artists such as John Atkinson Grimshaw, Frederic Lord Leighton and Frank Brangwyn.
Throughout the year, the gallery organises a number of talks and other activities so if you are staying in one of the Scarborough hotels and plan on visiting, you should keep an eye out to see if you can tie in a visit with one of these events.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Location:West Bretton, Wakeﬁeld
Set in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture.
It was the first sculpture park built in the UK and it is the largest of its kind in Europe. If you are visiting, you will see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety as well as a collection of sculptures which include works from famed artists such as David Nash, James Turrell and Andy Goldsworthy.
Despite being an outdoor attraction, it is popular year-round, and it is accessible to visitors who are in a wheelchair or suffer from mobility issues. If the weather is nice during your visit you can eat at the picnic tables, but there is a café should you want to keep warm.
Cartwright Hall Art Gallery
Location:Lister Park, Bradford
The Cartwright Hall Art Gallery is a leading regional art gallery that has permanent art collections and plays host to a number of temporary in-house curated exhibitions and visiting exhibitions, working with partners such as the National Portrait Gallery, V&A Museum of Childhood, the British Museum in London and more.
The gallery has more than 100 years’ worth of prints in its collections, and this includes works from world-famous printmakers such as Francisco Goya, William Blake and Walter Sickert as well as artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Hamilton.
If you are visiting the art gallery with children, then there is so much you can do before or after your visit. Cartwright Hall is located on the grounds of Lister Park and within the park, there is a boating lake, an adventure playground and Mughal Gardens which can be explored.
Location:Centenary Square, Bradford
What better place to discover local artists than galleries in Yorkshire? Yorkshire is full of galleries that feature the work of both homegrown and internationally acclaimed artists. For those who prefer a more modern medium, Impressions Gallery is an independent photography venue that showcases the stars of this field from both Yorkshire and further afield. We spoke to Angela who was keen to talk about what makes Impressions worth a visit:
“Established in 1972 as the second specialist independent photography galleries in Europe, Impressions Gallery has grown to become one of the UK’s leading venues for photography, showing significant work by regional, national and international artists. Situated in the heart of Bradford and overlooking the multi‐award-winning City Park, the gallery presents an inspiring programme of free exhibitions and a rich mix of events and creative workshops. There’s always something new to see and do to get our visitors looking, thinking and talking about the best in contemporary photography.
“We host a range of events including artist talks, professional development advice sessions and dedicated ‘Time for Tea’ events for over 55s. During school holidays we run free creative art activities that appeal to a wide range of family visitors. Loved by photographers and the general public alike, our specialist bookshop is the go‐to place to browse and buy the best and very reasonably priced photography books. We stock a large range of photobooks, rare publications, magazines and zines from some of the leading international and independent publishers.
“Impressions Gallery is a charity, funded by Arts Council England and supported by Bradford Council. We pride ourselves in providing an excellent experience for our visitors and we are both a registered family-friendly and dementia-friendly venue.”
Individual artists in Yorkshire
Part of Yorkshire’s appeal is the rural and unspoilt countryside stretching for miles in all directions. This means many artists end up making studios or workshops in isolated villages and chocolate box cottages that dot the Dales. Those exploring the quaint countryside may stumble across a local artist’s work in the most surprising of places.
Tucked away in the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Katharine Holmes concentrates on capturing the ever-changing environment of the Yorkshire Dales. Katharine is the third generation of painters, following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps, and she is continually inspired by the landscape in Yorkshire, despite travelling further afield. To portray her particular combination of drama and landscape, she often paints outdoors regardless of the tempestuous weather. Despite assumptions that the Yorkshire landscape is untouched, Katharine asserts otherwise:
“People look at the landscape in the Dales and think that they are looking at an unchanged natural world, but of course they are not. This area has been occupied and farmed for centuries, with each generation adding to and taking away from the land in the ways that they lived on it.”
These villages may seem trapped in time, but behind closed doors, there are a host of maverick artists taking their cues from the gorgeous surroundings.
Art courses in Yorkshire
People visiting Yorkshire and exploring its gorgeous countryside for themselves may feel inspired to attempt their own artistic endeavours and capture a slice of the countryside on paper or canvas. There are lots of art workshops around Yorkshire, hosted by those born and bred in the county or by people who have fallen in love with the area.
John Harrison is an artist with a special pen and ink style that is evocative of illustrations, and who lives and works in Yorkshire. The county inspires John in his own art but has also led him to run demos and workshops that offer locals and visitors alike an insight into this creative element of Yorkshire. John was keen to tell us about why Yorkshire has inspired such a committed art scene:
“The sheer breadth and variety of the county: its views, vistas, towns, cities, countryside and the coastline... inspiration for my style of art is around every corner, uphill and down dale. Not for nothing is it known as God's own county. There is so much variety and sheer talent within the county - from the most traditional of representational art to the latest cutting-edge media-driven disciplines, and Yorkshire is home to some of the truly great artists of the last century. David Hockney, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth for starters.”
When John was asked for his favourite view over Yorkshire, he struggled to pinpoint just one of the landscapes that this beautiful county offers:
“If I really have to choose just one (and it's a hard choice between the stunning coastline and the glorious Dales) it would have to be the Yorkshire Dales, with inspiration for days.”
John has some beautiful pieces on his online space Drawn in Yorkshire that would make a fantastic souvenir of the trip or a wonderful gift for someone who is also inspired or has enjoyed spending time in God’s own county.
This article looks at just some of the top art galleries in Yorkshire and features local artists based in the county as well as some courses you can try in Yorkshire. For more articles like this, take a look at our blog here.