A New Wild Life: A New Visuality Project, According To McGee, Tower Street, York, until August 8 (From York Press)
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A New Wild Life: A New Visuality Project, According To McGee, Tower Street, York, until August 8
ACCORDING To McGee usually grasps the cutting edge but a more traditional subject matter is now on show at the York gallery.
A New Wild Life: A New Visuality Project presents wildlife linocuts and textiles by Olivia Streatfeild-James, Rosemary Milner and Melanie J Alexandrou.
Gallery owners Greg and Ails McGee have always admired observational drawing. “To sit and analyse and then impart your observations in an interesting way on to paper – that’s the building blocks of art,” says Greg.
“So, after coming away from an exhibition at a country house celebrating wildlife, Ails and I looked at each other and said ‘Wildlife art needs a makeover’.”
Say goodbye to the old, the drawings of hares, stags and sparrows where “the poor thing looks dead and glassy eyed”. Say hello to wilder life.
“We didn’t think it was too glib to want to use the tag line ‘Wildlife is at last living up to its name’,” says Ails. “And that, by the way, doesn’t mean we were after artwork that was zany, wacky and look at me, aren’t I wild? Rather, we wanted work that engendered the feeling of energy, vigour and restlessness.”
The McGees duly contacted Maria Rogers, from the York art enterprise New Visuality, to ask her to arrange an exhibition of stylish, edgy wildlife artists.
Textile artist Olivia Streatfeild-James grew up in rural Perthshire, where her love of the countryside and its flora and fauna was nurtured. “I enjoy capturing the beauty of Scotland’s wildlife in my linocut prints, which are inspired by Thomas Bewick, and this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for me,” she says.
Rosemary Milner, a Leeds College of Art and Design surface-pattern design graduate now living in London, creates nature-inspired works in embroidery, 3D paper works, cushions, notebooks and limited-edition prints.
“My work mainly consists of bespoke printing methods such as etching, lino, screen and mono printing, which I produce on to a variety of materials and stocks,” she says.
“For this exhibition, I’ve produced large and small-scale pieces of printed etchings on to fabric, and I’ve then embroidered more detail into the prints to create a more tactile aesthetic.”
York St John University graduate Melanie J Alexandrou, from Macclesfield, is now studying for an MA in Art As Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University. Nature informs her works in painting, drawing, printmaking, textiles and bookmaking.
Curator Maria Rogers deliberately has come up with a show with a very British vibe to it. “The walls are covered with depictions of British birds and the more mysterious and enigmatic creatures found in Olivia’s native Scotland, as we think there’s more honesty to it,” she says.
“Who wants to see a UK artist’s imagined version of a Hawaiian Goose? When Olivia draws the Scottish Wildcat, it connects because you can’t fake that authenticity and that frisson of first-hand experience.”
• A New Wild Life: A New Visuality Project runs at According To McGee, Tower Street, York, until August 8.