By Graham Chalmers
It’s a fair sign of how healthy art and culture in our district is right now that it’s thriving, on the whole, without large amounts of public finding – not that there’s anything wrong with public funding.
That it does is because of a large number of groups and people who combine passion and knowledge with a grasp for good common business sense.
Groups and people like Art Harrogate, a new organisation fizzing with ideas and idealism – and practicality.
Run by an unlikely partnership divided by decades in terms of age, you might have seen Art Harrogate’s summer exhibition taking pride of place behind the glass frontage of St Peter’s Church in Harrogate recently.
The youth is provided by former St Aidan’s student Thomas Tallis, whose personal passion is for street art.
The experience comes from former civil servant and company owner Karl Blackshaw who had previously collected art as a hobby and was inspired by bumping into artists at local galleries such as RedHouse Originals and Dove Tree Studios.
Since Art Harrogate’s launch last year, this small-scale set-up hasn’t stood still for a second.
In the past 12 months, they’ve successfully showed the work of local artists of all types – from fine art to street art, from experienced artists to students from Harrogate College of Art - at a wide range of unexpected places for charity.
The list includes Harrogate International Centre, Weetons, Hoxton North, Hotel du Vin, James Brindley and, perhaps most surprisingly, the banking hall at the HSBC.
Facing the two of them across a table at Marconi café, Thomas tells me “Our goal is to take art out of the gallery. Artists need people’s support to continue creating work that can enhance our lives. If we can just help kickstart it for them.”
Karl leaps in, adding, “It can be hard to get people to cross the doorway to step into a gallery. We want to make it easier for the public to access art.”
Level-headed but ambitious, Art Harrogate’s latest venture is Art Bradford. Taking place from November 14-15 as part of the city’s annual switch-on of the Chrisrmas lights, Thomas and Karl are working with a bistro to showcase the work of new artists.
Backed by its patron Mike Newby, director of Visit Harrogate, Art Harrogate is currently looking for sponsors for exhibition stands, programmes and venues.
To support Art Harrogate, contact Thomas and Karl at firstname.lastname@example.org