New Exhibition ‘Down By The Sea’ At The Bingley Gallery

It seems we all like the seaside. The changing vista as the tide ebbs and flows, light sparking on the water, nostalgic memories of childhood holidays, sun and fresh air followed by a fish and chip supper or even the exhilaration of an onshore gale with the waves crashing against the shore.  It is easy to picture all the scenarios and it’s no surprise that artists are also drawn to the coast, Of course, the big skies, changing light and brightly-painted houses play their part. There may also be the over-romanticised view of those who earn their living from the sea. But in essence, it’s just a refreshing change from the daily routine for inland dwellers.

We are spoiled by easy access to two coasts. The Western resorts include Morcambe, whose popularity with coach and train parties once led it to be known as ‘Bradford on Sea’. However, it’s probably the East Coast of Yorkshire and the slightly wilder stretches up to Northumberland that really seem to have become firm favourites in recent years. There are places to suit all tastes: old fishing villages, once genteel resorts, fabulous beaches, romantic castles, wild cliff top walks and crowd-pleasing attractions. A conspiracy of nature, history and the tourist industry to keep us coming back for more.

While many of these well-loved places boast their own artistic communities, all the artists in a new exhibition at The Bingley Gallery live in the Bradford and Leeds areas and therefore see the coast with the same freshness as the day out or holidaying visitor.

Ilkley artist Tony Dexter is in danger of stealing the show with his visually striking acrylics.  Many feature boats, in particular the famous cobles of the region, but viewed up so close as to convert the figurative to abstract and produce entirely contemporary paintings.

Suzanne McQuade is a watercolor painter in the classic tradition who aims to capture the peace and tranquility of favorite locations, and to convey her emotions to the viewer. Suzanne admits that the medium of watercolour is a tricky one; its unpredictability can be frustrating at times, but serendipitously rewarding at others – allowing light to shine through the translucent elements of the paint.

Well known throughout the area as a tutor who has influenced and encouraged many artists, Jeremy Taylor has recently found time to start painting again. A feature of his new works are abstracted margins within the painting, which reflect the amount of time spent looking through windows, at screens and photos during Lockdown.

Pam Bumby, a former art teacher and a real ‘painter’s painter’, is inspired by the effect of changing light on the landscape and by how it affects atmosphere and colour. Her compact oils glow with warmth, colour and light.

With a day job in archaeological air-photo interpretation, it is hard to imagine how Alison Deegan finds the time to produce such a wide range of exquisite lino-cuts. This exhibition presents a selection of her coastally-inspired work, particularly of seabirds, all beautifully observed.

Kate Lycett, based in Hebden Bridge, is the best known of the artists and the show includes her limited-edition prints.  Kate’s background in textile design, leads to a distinctive feature of her work: fabric patterns are painted into the landscapes then gold leaf and gold thread applied to the print itself. As the artist stresses ‘I want to paint beautiful pictures of the places that I love’ and her affection for our East Coast comes through strongly.

Clare Caulfield is a Bingley-based artist and printmaker who studied at Bradford College and Staffordshire University and is now building an international reputation. Her lively, and slightly quirky prints capture the charm and bustle of our seaside towns and villages in the holiday season.

Josie Barraclough was actually born on the coast at Scarborough but her life as a painter, illustrator and teacher has taken her far afield and she’s now based in West Yorkshire. Using oil paint on a collage of printed clippings, her work literally incorporates layers of meaning but her work is alway fresh and appealing.

Ian Burdell promises a grittier representation of the coast and its community. Ian paints in oils, concentrating on working and post-industrial settings. This includes lost and broken objects, places and people. His aim is to reflect their former worth, dignity and purpose in a changed environment.

Porcelain bowls from Laura McNicholas’ Nettleton Pottery are like no other ceramics we have ever seen. Shell-inspired forms have smooth, glossy, deeply- glazed interiors resonant of the rockpools of her childhood. Further family history is embodied in the impressing into the outer surfaces historic textiles that have been handed down through five generations of Laura’s family.

For those who fancy a taste of the sea, by the canal, the exhibition will run at The Bingley Gallery from 19 May to 26 Jun 2022