By Graham Chalmers
When setting up your gallery’s newexhibition involves being on the phone to the LA office of David Hockney on a regular basis, you know there’s something special on the cards.
That’s been the life of Mercer Art Gallery curator Jane Sellars for much of the last few months as she prepares for the launch of an event which will be the centre-piece of the Harrogate district’s contribution to the forthcoming Yorkshire Festival.
Launched by Welcome to Yorkshire, the latter is a cultural festival dsigned to celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in the county this July.
A big deal in every way, Jane Sellars believes Art and Yorkshire: From Turner To Hockney, will be the perfect event to welcome Le Grand Départ.
It’s also set to be the Mercer Gallery’s biggest hit since its Atkinson Grimshaw blockbuster in 2011.
“It’s hugely ambitious exhibition for a gallery of our size. Yorkshire has produced some of the finest artists the world had ever seen and we’re trying to celebrate them all.
“It’s been hard work securing the Hockneys. I’ve been discussing it with his LA office on the phone for months.
Running from April 12 to October 12, in total there will be 100 artworks on show at the Mercer. At this point, there may be as many as 14 Hockneys in the exhibition, some sourced from private collections, as well some Hepworths and Henry Moores.
The show is a personal selection by Sellars whose aim is to represent not only Yorkshire-born artists of the past 200 years but the county itself, its landscapes, its towns and its people.
Sellars was talking about the exciting plans at Harorgate Theatre which itself has a major part to play in celebrations to mark the arrival of the world’s biggest cycling event in July.
David Bown, the theatre’s chief executive said the coming together of culture and sport with the support of Welcome to Yorkshire was one of the most exciting things ever to happen in the county.
The theatre’s official participation will be Le Grand Voyage. Presented in conjunction with Il Pixel Rosso, it will offer an immersive, interactive event involving stationary bikes, headphones and goggles!
Being the theatre, they’ve got a lot more Le Tour-related events up their sleeve, including an evening of poetry and comedy starring Phill Jupitus and John Cooper Clarke.
In complete contrast to the speed of Mark Cavendish and co, Harrogate will also see the ‘Slow Art’ movement come to its streets as part of the Yorkshire Festival, specifically to one street - Cold Bath Road.
Rick Faulkner, director of North Yorkshire-based organisers Chrysalis Arts, said:
“The street is such a great space to work in. It’s such a vibrant part of Harrogate.
“We can’t say what they will be yet but there will be a series of artistic interventions and community commissions to make people see life differently.Part of the funding is linked to sustainable transport. We’re hoping to encourage more people to visit Cold Bath Road by foot.”