YORK artist Jake Attree has the honour of presenting the inaugural exhibition at the Piece Hall Gallery as the artist-in-residence at the newly restored Piece Hall in Halifax.

"Ever since I started working in Halifax, over 20 years ago – I have a studio at Dean Clough – I've had a strong and enduring admiration for the Piece Hall, so as soon as I learned it was to be brought back to its former splendour, I was anxious to make a visual record of that process through drawing," says Jake, an alumnus of the York School of Art.

"I approached Claire Slattery, of Calderdale Council, and she very kindly set in motion the means for me to access the site, which I did for about 18 months."

Using his distinctive heavy-worked style, Attree captured the workers going about their tasks. "Initially the drawings were done in a sketchbook on cold winter days, through spring, into summer and then autumn," he says.

York Press:

York artist Jake Attree

"I tried to record as accurately as I could the overhaul of this magnificent 18th century building. Latterly, these drawings have been developed into larger oil pastels and larger graphite drawings, and it has been a great pleasure and a privilege for me to observe this transformation chronologically and at first hand.”

The exhibition will be on view at the Piece Hall Gallery, on the arcade level of the west wall, until October 15. "Readers might wonder what relevance an exhibition in Halifax might have to the population of York...Whatever one's personal opinion about the country's decision on June 24 2016, we now, it seems to me, need to work together both regionally and nationally; so, if something is happening in one part of Yorkshire, there is every reason to communicate that across the county and also across the north," says York-born Attree.

"If the 'Northern Powerhouse' is to be more than a slogan, or a concept that is paid lip service to, all regions of the north need to celebrate and share what they are doing culturally. It is natural to be competitive but it is also natural to be collaborative and supportive of each other. Newcastle and Gateshead are a wonderful example of how this can work to mutual advantage.

York Press:

One of Jake Attree's drawings of the restored Piece Hall taking shape 

"I think I am right in saying there was a certain amount of antipathy between the north and south banks of the Tyne; once they managed to put that behind them and work together for the common good, the results were the Sage, the Baltic gallery, etc., and that has got to be the way forward."

On October 14, from 1.30pm to 4.30pm at the Piece Hall Gallery, Attree will lead a drawing masterclass as he takes participants on a journey from pencil to oil. "I'll give an introductory talk about my exhibition and take you through the different stages of my work before you have a go at creating your own drawings," he says.

"Using different aspects of the Piece Hall’s architecture as inspiration, you will experiment with a variety of materials and drawing techniques from observational to abstract. Refreshments and a selection of art materials will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own drawing supplies."

Booking is essential for the masterclass at a cost of £40 via thepiecehall.co.uk/events/