A wonderful example of a city becoming a venue was this year’s wonderful BLOOM festival, led and organised by Lotte. Many of the city’s empty shops became art windows, installation spaces, and dozens of businesses participated. The city became Bloom, and the theme made it interdisciplinary, providing an ample scope and an open invitation for people to participate. It felt collective, the feedback was phenomenal and proved so successful it is to become a biennial festival now backed by the council
The city has become a cultural destination. Events like the Early Music Festival and the Literature Festival attract people from all over the country and overseas. I was lucky to host a private dinner for some illustrious literati who had come all the way from Delhi to York specially to attend a concert. The River Arts Market, the Arts & event at the racecourse, and the success of York Open Studios have placed York as a city full of artists, eager to show and able to sell, and people are coming from far and wide to see what is on offer.
York designers Rebecca Carr and John Hollington are again bringing Effects Design Market, a curated exhibition selling modern design, to St Mary’s Church. It will form part of a city-wide Ceramics + Design Now festival, in partnership with CoCA at York Art Gallery and the Craft Potters Association, with events, workshops, talks and two selling exhibitions. This will offer visitors the opportunity to meet designers and become part of a growing global movement which values sustainable, low impact, high quality craft and design.
Lu Mason is painting the city bright with her wonderful mobiles. For Bloom she exhibited in three venues and recently she has created a wonderful circus themed paper mobile installation in the hospital corridor. She says, “Celebrating 70 years of being our safety net… it’s a juggling high-wire act that we would be lost without.” She has also been commissioned to create Perspex shoe brooches for York Castle Museum, depicting some of their own collection to coincide with Vivienne Westwood Shoe Collection exhibition.
York is also the first and only UK Creative city of media arts. It was given this designation in 2014 as an acknowledgement for putting creativity at the heart of local development, for being forward thinking, for its innovative and collaborative interaction with other international cities in this field. Some things to watch are YORK MEDIALE, a new biennial international media art festival, and the BAFTA recognised Aesthetica Short Film Festival, an important showcase of new cinema and original filmmaking.
Lotte Inch’s gallery is having a take-over in by emerging bespoke furniture maker Sam Parkin. Her following exhibitions are paintings by York artist Steve Williams and “A is for Alphabet” the Alphabet in pictures. Lotte said that the current York Art Map is ready for revising, she already envisages a massive change in the numbers of venues. All over the city artists and writers, poets and potters, musicians and thinkers are creating work, sparking off ideas, finding a receptive audience and proving that York has found a voice and is happy to speak out to the world.