An exhibition of art inspired by God’s own county has become one of the Mercer Art Gallery’s most successful ever exhibitions with over 24,000 visitors to the arts venue in the first five months.
The Harrogate gallery’s blockbuster show ‘Art and Yorkshire: From Turner to Hockney’ features over 100 paintings, photographs and sculptures which highlight Yorkshire’s influence on some of the world’s finest artists. From J M W Turner’s familiar landscapes to Atkinson Grimshaw’s moonlit harbour scenes and early work by Bradford-born David Hockney; the exhibition places past masters and contemporary artists together in a new context to send a picture postcard of Yorkshire to the world.
The popularity of the critically acclaimed exhibition, which opened on 12 April and closes on 12 October, saw visitor numbers rise by a staggering 102%, and sales of books and souvenirs increase by 378% compared to the same period last year.
The exhibition is the latest cultural success for the district this year. As part of the 100-day Yorkshire Festival, which was designed to encourage participation in the arts and cultural events in the run up to the Tour de France Grand Départ, Harrogate staged a number of exhibitions including Chrysalis Art’s Slow Art Project on Cold Bath Road, and Harrogate Theatre’s multi-media co-production with innovative international theatre company, Il Pixel Rosso.
Barely had the dust from the bikes settled, before July saw the return of Harrogate’s International Summer Festival, featuring the very best in international musicians, writers and artists. While fans of the Mikado and the Pirates of Penzance were in seventh heaven with the arrival of the 21st Gilbert & Sullivan Festival to Harrogate for the first time.
Councillor Pat Jones, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Sports has been delighted with this year’s cultural successes: The Tour de France Grand Départ opened the world’s eyes to the wonders of our beautiful district. I suspect for many visitors it proved to be an enlightening experience as they were unaware of the vibrant cultural experiences we have on offer.
Our museums showcase fantastic works of art in thought provoking exhibitions; our theatre’s feature world renowned plays and prestigious musical events; and our festivals provide a whole host of experiences for all ages. Other major events around the borough have included the the17th Ripon International Festival in September, featuring renowned orchestras and distinguished performers from around the world, and one of the most prestigious classical music events in the country, the Northern Aldborough Festival.
Our visitor economy is booming, and we are committed to expanding on the diverse programmes we offer throughout the year. We have grand ambitions and we want to be recognised around the world as one of Yorkshire’s leading cultural tourist destinations. The Mercer Art Gallery’s ‘Art and Yorkshire’ exhibition is not to be missed and has proven to be a huge success illustrating the beauty of our wonderful county. I am sure it will continue to draw in crowds under it closes in October.