A guide to Yorkshires art scene

27th April 2018

sunset over the yorkshire dales


God’s County is often associated with puddings, terriers, industry and cycling, but this stunning landscape has inspired many people to express themselves creatively. This has produced artist communities dotted around the north east as well as focused efforts to not only expand Yorkshire’s art scene but also make it more widely available. If you are visiting Yorkshire to enjoy the great outdoors or to investigate some of the country’s best eateries, make sure you spend a moment appreciating the artistic talent that is thriving in the area.


Individual Artists

pallet and acrylic paints

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 chocolate box villages may seem trapped in time, but behind closed doors, there are a host of maverick artists taking their cues from the gorgeous surroundings.



Couple in Impressions Gallery

What better place to discover local artists than galleries in Yorkshire? Yorkshire is full of galleries that feature 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.”

For those staying in a hotel in Scarborough, there are plenty of coastal venues that have a friendly atmosphere and offer the opportunity to see local art in a no pressure environment. Coast Gallery has ever-changing exhibitions that, coupled with a wonderful café, make it a great pit stop for any day in the picturesque seaside town. For a quirky take on Yorkshire’s art scene head to Tracy Savage Fine Art Gallery and see her beautifully eclectic paintings.



paintbrush and watercolours

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 be 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 offers 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, up-hill 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.

Image Credit: Tim HillPxhereAlicia