An exciting new project has transformed a shed into a home for contemporary art exhibitions in Ripon.
James Gray, 22, born and bred in Ripon, told the Gazette that he has worked hard with artist Dan Metcalfe, 37, to create a solution to a lack of free art exhibition spaces in the city.
Passionate about The Ripon Shed Project becoming a meeting ground for residents to have conversations about the future of Ripon, Mr Gray said he is looking forward to seeing the response from the city - the first installation is Camera Obscura by Dan Metcalfe, which will be launched at Ripon Cathedral tomorrow, Saturday, on the day of the St Wilfrid’s Procession.
He said: “It has been a while since there was a major development to the city - although there has been new buildings, many of them come and go.
“There has been a rejuvenation with the way that travel and tourism is changing in the country, with people flocking to small northern market towns for arts events. I would love Ripon to become a centre for rural artists to showcase their work.
“People would see how beautiful the city is, and it would have a great effect on businesses, bringing people to the area.
“But this is just one idea, we are keen to to hear as many different ideas as possible about the future of Ripon.”
Mr Gray said the shed will help to bring the community together and provide an important platform for local artists.
He told the Gazette: “It really brings a sense of community. If you had too a large exhibition space and centre in Ripon, it would take the community spirit away.
"With smaller spaces like the shed, only a few people go in at a time and share the experience of it - and talk about what they feel and think about the art.
“It is a chance for people to engage with each other in a place that is smaller and feels more homely.”
The project also aims to nurture and give hope to young up-and-coming Ripon artists.
“Living in Ripon all my life, I found moving away to Leeds five years ago for university was really difficult”, Mr Gray said.
“I found it a really difficult choice choosing between my city, and my career and what I wanted to do.
“I hope that this project will give a bit of hope to other young artists studying from Ripon that there are art platforms here for them so that they stay in our community, and that we can try and encourage people to stay local.
“This will show what is being achieved in the city.
“At university I looked at contemporary art and exhibition spaces, and I wanted to bring back everything I know to Ripon."
Excited about the shed being a blank canvas for Ripon’s talented artists, he added: “If anyone has a creative idea that showcases something about our city that is interesting and dynamic, we would love to hear from you.
“Key to this succeeding will be working together. We just want to try and help bring a new dynamic to the city.
“We are having conversations with other major Ripon attractions - because it’s so transferable and small, the shed could go anywhere from a pub beer garden to a park in Ripon, or even a roundabout.”
To find out more, like the ‘The Ripon Shed Project’ on Facebook.
The Ripon Shed Project is funded by councillor Peter Horton through the North Yorkshire County Council locality budget, and sponsored by MKM Building Supplies Ltd and Baytree Interiors.