IS there a book, work of art, film, piece of music or building that has really changed your life, or brought you up short and stopped you in your tracks with sheer wonder?

Then York Art Gallery would like to hear from you.

To tie in with its ongoing ‘Making a Masterpiece’ exhibition, the gallery is inviting people to take to Twitter to nominate the works of art that have most affected them, using the hashtag #personalmasterpiece.

The idea is to get us all thinking about what it is that makes a truly great piece of art, says York Museums Trust chief executive Reyahn King.

The gallery’s ongoing exhibition - Making a Masterpiece: Bouts and Beyond, which runs until January 26 - looks at the combination of craftsmanship, science and pure creativity which go into making a masterpiece: in this case Dieric Bouts’ 15th century painting Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin and the Child.

The painting shows St Luke, the patron saint of artists, in an idealised studio, drawing the Virgin Mary and Christ Child. In the background, meanwhile, is a half-completed panel painting.

“This is a work that was created in around 1450 – more than half a millennium ago – and still has that magic to inspire and engage,” said Reyahn.

Using the Bouts - which is on loan from the Bowes Museum - as a focus, the exhibition brings together a range of other art works dating from the 15th to the 21st centuries to explore how artists go about making their images - and what goes into the making of a great work of art.

It is, however, surprisingly difficult to pin down precisely what makes a masterpiece a masterpiece, Reyahn admits. Partly that may be because we all have our own personal sense of what makes for a great work of art.

“Why that particular piece of art, music, architecture or any other art form can literally stop you in your tracks is often rooted in personal taste, experience, memory or moment,” Reyahn said.

“That’s why we wanted to ask our visitors and those online what their personal masterpiece is and why? We want to hear your personal stories of life-changing moments with art of all different types. Was it a book you couldn’t put down as a child, an album played to death, a painting you got lost in, or a building which took your breath away?”

Launched on Twitter earlier this week, a wide range of people have already posted thoughts on their own #personalmasterpiece.

Artworks already nominated range from the music of Blur to the surrealist paintings of Salvador Dali - and even the landscape of the Lake District, shaped by the actions of so many human beings down the centuries.

Several respondents have nominated books - including Pride and Prejudice, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground.

Others have gone for the jokey or the very personal. “Our baby’s hot chocolate before bed made by yours truly haha!” posted one woman, above a photo of a large, frothy mug of chocolate.

You can check out what others have nominated, and make your own nomination, just by logging onto Twitter and searching for #personalmasterpiece.

“Have a look on Twitter and see what other people are saying and then come and have a look at the amazing works in the exhibition to see if you agree with us on Bout’s incredible work, “ Reyahn said.

The gallery’s exhibition and twitter campaign have also inspired students at York College.

Artist and tutor Griselda Goldsbrough, who is working with York College Media students, said: “The students we’re working with in connection with the Bouts exhibition have been really interested in the idea of a ‘masterpiece’ and as part of their project are hoping to speak to people and ask the question ‘What Makes a Masterpiece?’ “The idea is to get a better understanding of the different ways the word is used and interpreted by different people, particularly those around their own age. They will be making a short film of the responses which they will share online as well as at a special event being held by them at the Gallery in January.”

  • Making a Masterpiece: Bouts and Beyond runs at York Art Gallery until January 26