Review by Graham Chalmers
From the moment you enter Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate, the intention of this blockbuster exhibition is clear to see.
A bust of Harrogate Advertiser founder Robert Ackrill in smooth marble placed next to The Blue Pool, one of Hockey’s most seductive images of the 1970s. Classical and modern, the past and the present - and all of it Yorkshire.
This massively ambitious retrospective covers nearly two whole centuries and is a treasure trove of great art of all eras and styles, from oils to videos, pencils to sculptures.
Though not as pure as curator curator Jane Sellars’ last blockbuster on Atkinson Grimshaw (how could it be, that focused solely on a single artist), it’s a brilliantly put-together exhibition and hugely enjoyable.
In seeking to give some shape to such a scattered collection of artworks from disparate sources, more than a 100 in total, Sellars has cleverly elected to divide them into themes, not chronology.
By doing so, it allows her to achieve several obectives at the same time.
A major survey of the last two centuries of Yorkshire culture and history, from rural idylls and stormy seas to industrial hardship and urban modernity.
A leaping back and forth in time from then to now to show how the former shaped the latter and how much they both still share.
An aesthetically pleasing juxtaposition of radically different art.
The end result is so good, you don’t have to read the annotations, though they are worth reading, so much so they form part of the basis of the book of the exhibition.
Perhaps From Turner to Hockney is a little too packed to do some of the individual pieces justice but what on earth would you leave out?
This stunning exhibition is worth seeing for just three of its paintings alone - one by Atkinson Grimshaw, one by Terry Frost and one by David Hockey.
I won’t say more. The fact these are merely the tip of the iceberg says it all.
Art and Yorkshire: From Turner To Hockney runs at Mercer Art Gallery from April 12-October 12.
www.festival.yorkshire.com or www.harrogate.gov.uk