Harrogate's new arts venue gets off to a great start

The rare sight of a major new gallery being opened in Harrogate has seen a good response from the art-loving public despite the times we live in.

Owner Johnny Messum said the opening weekend of Messums Harrogate gallery had gone like a dream - despite the town centre still emerging from lockdown.
Owner Johnny Messum said the opening weekend of Messums Harrogate gallery had gone like a dream - despite the town centre still emerging from lockdown.

Located at 4-6 James Street, Messums Harrogate will be more than a gallery, it will host talks and events with artists, mirroring the programmes currently on offer at sister galleries in London and Wiltshire, reflecting its owner's closness to the artist.

Owner Johnny Messum said the opening weekend had gone like a dream at what is only the third Messums in the whole country - despite Harrogate town centre still emerging from lockdown.

Johnny said: “We were delighted with the very warm response we received at our opening weekend.

Welcome to Harrogate - Messums' new art gallery in Harrogate, only its third nationwide.

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    "We look forward to welcoming more visitors to our exciting programme of exhibitions of artworks gathered from all over the world and to our gallery events”.

    The ground floor of this coolly stylish new Harrogate gallery shines a light on Material Textile: Modern British Female Designers, featuring collectable textiles created by iconic female artists during the 1950s -70s such as Lucienne Day and Marian Mahler.

    With years of experience at Messums London gallery located at Bury Street in St James and a major reputation built on his track record for imaginative ideas, Johnny Messum said the nature of art galleries was itself evolving and their very relationship with artists.

    Johnny Messum, whose Wiltshire gallery is a state-of-the-art multi-purpose gallery and arts centre, said: "I think there is a future for galleries but in a different form than we are used to.

    "The role of an art gallery is changing and the effect pandemic has fast-tracked the need to change.

    "Connoisseurship is still important in running an art gallery but I see the gallery space as the artists's space.

    "At Messums, artists are stakeholders in our business. We have a company that looks after artists, which puts on exhibitions and comes up with new ways of presenting art and talks about art."

    To complement the textiles on the ground floor at Messums Harrogate, the most recent studio works of Thiébaut Chagué, one of France’s leading ceramic artists who will be familiar to visitors to the V&A and the Louvre, is also on display.

    The upper floor focuses on British Impressionist paintings championed by Messums since the 1960s, including artists such as Walter Sickert and Harold Gilman.

    The sculptress Dame Elisabeth Frink, the subject of a major show this summer at Messums Wiltshire, will also be represented.

    Messums Harrogate, 4-6 James Street, is open Thursday-Saturday, 11am-6pm, and at other times by appointment.

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