If you live in Harrogate and fancy a paddle in the sea, you have a bit of a trek. It’s around 65 miles to Morecambe and a similar distance to Scarborough. The prospect of having to endure repeated calls of ‘are we there yet?’, ‘how much longer?’ and ‘I need the loo’ is usually enough for most of us to opt instead for an ice cream in Valley Gardens. It can be even worse if there are children involved.
But thanks to some magic and the brilliant curation of the team at Watermark Gallery, which is situated on the town’s Royal Parade, a trip to the seaside is much closer than you might think. Recently, I attended a special viewing of Harrogate By Sea, the latest offering from the gallery, which provided art-lovers with the opportunity to soak up the work of Emma Holliday and Andrew Morris. Nobody arrived clutching a bag of chips so the threat from dive-bombing seagulls was minimal. But there was an abundance of the coolest seaside biscuits to enjoy alongside some perfectly chilled wine.
Holliday is a Newcastle-based artist whose paintings are both happy and beautiful in equal measure. The artist, who utilises vibrant colours to perfectly capture light, creates works depicting Northumbrian and Yorkshire coastal scenes. Using both oils and acrylic, Holliday works straight from life and, in doing so, possibly captures something that can’t be photographed or sketched. Each person who views her collection will have a favourite piece for their own reason. Whether you’ve hunted for shells with the kids on the beach at Warkworth or held hands with someone special on the Pier at Saltburn, Holliday’s work is guaranteed to whizz you back to your own precious seaside moment.
Morris is originally from Harrogate and based in Brighton. After a career in commercial illustration, he now concentrates without distraction on producing unique and engaging work, which is centred on man-made landscapes and structures. Morris works from photographs and sketches, often combining different scenarios to create a new, imagined product. His pedigree as a commercial artist is evident in his Watermark Gallery hangings. You sense that you are looking at exactly what matters to him. There is no ambiguity. Morris’s use of light and colour masterfully holds up a lens to often faded subjects, cementing their place as part of a new creative landscape. Working in acrylic, Morris’s work is both exclusive and accessible.
For admirers of Morris, there’s an additional, incredibly special opportunity this month to view a retrospective exhibition of work by his father, David Morris, who studied at Slade School of Art and, as well as being an exquisite printmaker, also taught at Harrogate’s former School of Art. A Life in Printmaking runs until September 4, 2021, at the Zillah Bell Gallery in Thirsk and features paintings, drawings and etchings of Yorkshire’s coast and landscape.
Holliday and Morris’s work is a perfect fit for Watermark Gallery this summer. And if there is a tricky decision to be made about which coastal idyll to visit, east or west, then forget it. Simply set sail for this beautiful seaside creation. There are even deckchairs.
Images courtesy of Watermark Gallery.
Harrogate By Sea runs until August 30, 2021 at Watermark Gallery, 8 Royal Parade, Harrogate, HG1 2SZ. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm.
David Morris: A Life in Printmaking runs until September 4, 2021 at Zillah Bell Gallery, 15 Kirkgate, Thirsk, YO7 1PQ.