Monday, June 06, 2011

Ripley, North Yorkshire

Ripley Ice CreamYesterday we took the number 36 bus from Harrogate to Ripley (Note to self: I had forgotten that in the UK, even if you're standing in the bus stop shelter waiting for the bus, they will just zoom on by unless you wave them down!) and not only discovered a lovely little village there with an exceptional art gallery, a historic fortified house (home of a gent who was knighted in the 1290s because he saved Edward III from the attack of a wild boar), an even more historic church, but also discovered that this village is the home of the world famous Ripley Ice Cream, which was without a doubt the yummiest and creamiest ice cream that I've ever had! And rumor has it that its secret formula is made from Soy milk!

That's Alida and Little Junes sitting on front of Ripley's Ice Cream (and also a really cool candy store).

In Ripley we chatted with Chris Braddon, owner of Chantry House Gallery, which was a pleasant discovery in this tiny village. I say "pleasant" because even though nearby Harrogate has several galleries, I must admit that I have not been too impressed with any of them.

I say this fully realizing that some of Harrogate's galleries cater to a very specific (and I'm about to generalize) English 19th century landscape type work that doesn't really ring my bell. On the other hand, it works for them, as some of these galleries have been around since the 1940s!

There are also at least two galleries which seem to be co-operatives, and those have the usual mix of very good artists with some less talented members. These co-ops seemed both to have quite a few sculptors, which is somewhat unusual in such numbers. Also different is a lot of animal sculpture (dogs, pigs, etc.) both in normal poses and also in whimsical, fantasy situations (dancing hares, etc.).

The rest are the sort of "galleries" that push a lot of signed reproductions on canvas and exhibit permanent displays of cutsey paintings of cows for the children's rooms alongside underwater nudes.

Chantry House GalleryChantry House also necessarily adapts to its environment, but some real talent stands aside in this space, such as the work of John Wheeler, whose initial training as a carpet designer have left profound and unique footprints on his visual fine art paintings and thus separate him immediately from the other hundreds of landscape painters in understandable love with one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

Peter Hicks is also a radical departure from other landscape artists in this lovely part of the planet.

His marriage of abstracted forms to deliver fleeting landscape descriptions is both different and refreshing. You can check out his gallery exhibit here.