So, the judges have awarded the next ‘City of Culture’ to Bradford. In many ways hardly surprising, given the wealth of talent and enthusiasm for the arts at grass roots level across the district (although we were holding our breath during the dramatic pause before the announcement). There is, of course, no reason to wait until 2025 to start looking up some of the creative individuals and organisations in the vicinity. The Bingley Gallery has for many years sought to promote local talent and financially support those artists through sales. Their Summer Exhibition is always eclectic – lots of different subjects and approaches and art to suit all tastes – a mix of new and established artists. Some come with ready-made reputations; others are talented artists but who have had little previous exposure and for whom this may be the first step towards a professional standing.
One of the numerous local artists on show is Louise Garrard who is both a plein air (outdoor) painter and urban sketcher; both activities challenge her to create art in direct response to our own region. Subsequent studio work develops from these initial field sketches, paintings and photos. Works in this exhibition are the product of many repeated walks in her local area, including the old quarry sites of Harden Moor and the remnants of Betty’s Wood on the St Ives estate, where its gaunt Scots pines; are a powerful statement of survival.
Ian Brook’s exquisite etchings are also rooted in landscape, capturing the sense of place, distinct to specific locations. Many feature the moors around his home near Haworth – the result of sketches made during regular walks there, often revisited in different lights and seasons. However, during lockdown he chose to focus on landscapes much more remote, working up incredibly finely detailed images of the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, visited whilst undertaking oceanographic research for his academic work in climate science at the University of Leeds.
For art lovers with a liking for less figurative work, Leyla Murr’s abstracts are based largely on landscapes, with large canvases that reflect her joy of life. Those who like grittier realism, might find Ian Burdall more to their taste, with disused steel works and grounded ships. L. Amy Charlesworth is an oil painter who,just at the moment is focussing her hyper-realistic style on portraits of animals, whilst the multi-talented Jan Whittock has both etchings and ceramics on show. Judith Levin is in her element with a superb misty moorland scene. Gallery proprietor and artist in residence, David Starley also has new oil paintings and he has revealed a new experimental angle – forest scenes without trees -reflecting current environmental concerns over de-forestation. The gallery’s latest discovery is Denise Hinchliffe who has a special talent for turning clay into creatures with a remarkable essence of life. Further livestock and wildlife have been portrayed by Bev Parker including some of the sheep from her own flock of Swaledales – she is never short of models on her upland farm home. Finally, just as we are start putting the exhibition together, a local chap turns up, never having exhibited before. ‘Bonehead’, as he prefers to be known, is a man with a laser cutter, a collection of day glo aerosols and an extremely inventive turn of mind. Is Bingley ready for this? Well let’s hope so, we all going to be citizens of the City of Culture.
The Bingley Gallery Summer Exhibition runs 30 June to 21 August