CHANTRY House Gallery, in Ripley, near Harrogate, is celebrating the art of Yorkshire landscape painting in its autumn season of shows by two of its most successful artists.

Opening on Saturday, the first solo show presents new paintings by Stephen Lennon, a proud Lancastrian who nevertheless has lived for most of his life in Yorkshire.

His love of the landscape stems from his early life, as he explains: “I was born and bred in Burnley, where the Pennine Hills and Pendle in particular were always tantalisingly in view. There was no family car, so outings to the country didn’t happen until a youth club trip, aged 15, when the beauty of the landscape was revealed to me.

“Arriving after dark, followed by a night under canvas, I emerged from my tent at first light to be greeted by the Borrowdale Fells, an awe-inspiring sight, especially for a boy who'd never seen anything bigger than the distant Pendle Hill.”

Always a lover of painting and drawing, Stephen uses the vehicle of paint to explore his reaction to the landscape. He lives and works in Nidderdale and his subject matter for his Chantry House exhibition includes the Yorkshire Dales, the Pennines, the Cumbrian Fells and the Scottish mountains.

York Press:

Malham Cove, by Stephen Lennon

Gallery owner Emma Hargreaves enthuses: “His paintings are modern in style but have an appeal to those who love traditional landscapes. Colour plays a very important role in the work, as does his treatment of light and shade. Stephen’s main wish when exhibiting his work is that the viewers will be reminded of their own experiences and their own emotional response to the northern landscape.”

Chantry House's second landscape exhibition this autumn will showcase new work by Yorkshire artist Clare Haley from October 10. She grew up in Clayton Heights, between Halifax and Bradford, where she developed an appreciation for the landscape and dramatic weather the county never failed to provide.

“Clare’s inspiration to paint comes from a fascination with the raw landscape and the way the weather affects its atmosphere," says Emma Hargreaves. "The sky plays a crucial part in how the landscape comes alive through light, shadow, moisture and movement. She paints in oils and loves the way the paint responds to her imagination.

“Sketching and drawing initially with the brush, she builds up momentum for the bolder strokes. For Clare, fulfilment comes from the viewer connecting with the painting whether through a feeling or memory, or an appreciation of the painting as a visual artwork in which to escape."

Clare recalls her childhood days at Clayton Heights. "It's one of the highest parts of West Yorkshire. If it snowed, it snowed there first," she says. "As a child, I spent most of my time outdoors exploring farmland and woods. We used to visit Haworth and I loved the wild moors which seemed endless. I love to paint those scenes today.

“There are so many places in Yorkshire of outstanding beauty but I still lean towards the 'wilder' countryside, such as parts of the Pennine Way, especially around the Three Peaks, and find the Pennine range astounding. You can't beat Malham in the Yorkshire Dales for rolling hills and every shade of green."

Clare now lives in Holmfirth with her young family and has converted a shed into her studio. "My little studio is just next to the house in the garden, surrounded by trees and views down into Holmfirth," she says. "I don't paint on location but use all my references and imagination to paint in the studio. I really need that solitude.

“For me, a cloudless sky holds no inspiration to pick up my brush and paint. The sky holds the key to the drama of the painting, controlling light bursts, muted illumination, deep shadows, angry threats of drowning the landscape in rain, as well as dense banks of suffocating mist or delicate sheets of moisture passing through. I paint imagined landscapes; places I want to be, as well as local landmark areas.”

Emma Hargreaves is very conscious of the 35-year history of Chantry House Gallery, which she has owned and run for the past two years with her husband John. “The gallery was established in 1980 and has the reputation of being one of the most interesting art galleries in North Yorkshire. Past owners, for example, have included Terry Logan, the photographer who launched the legendary Calendar Girls on their way to fame," she says.

“Chantry House Gallery is a long-term commitment for me. I'm already deriving a huge amount of satisfaction and fun from running the gallery and I feel immensely privileged and lucky to be doing a job which I really love in such wonderful surroundings and with such talented people.”

Stephen Lennon's exhibition runs from Saturday to October 4; Clare Haley, October 10 to November 1.