Artists respond to York Art Gallery collections

To celebrate the re-opening of York Art Gallery on 1 August following a major refit, York Museums Trust commissioned two contemporary artists to create new works inspired by their collections.

Over the past two years, York-based artist Mark Hearld has been delving into the vast stores of York Museums Trust choosing objects and artworks to include in his exhibition The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures. His  selection includes textiles, costumes, furniture, works on paper and taxidermy. Alongside these are new works inspired by the collections that Mark has created especially for the show. These include collages, lino prints and a group of individually decorated slip-cast horses.

Mark Hearld with ceramic horses in  The Lumber Room , York Art Gallery, 2015

Mark Hearld with ceramic horses in The Lumber Room, York Art Gallery, 2015

Mark explains how he was influenced by Saki’s short story The Lumber Room, which he first heard when he was fifteen.

“Since I heard Saki’s story I have always been intrigued by the idea of a locked room that contained treasures so wonderful they are beyond what your mind can imagine. In this exhibition I wanted to create the sense of excitement and wonder that you get when you discover the key to the room and see the “forbidden” objects for the first time.”

This is the first time that York Museums Trust’s disparate collections will be displayed in this fashion, with Victorian dolls' houses, taxidermy and English Delft-ware exhibited alongside paintings and military jackets.

Clare Twomey with her installation  Manifest: 10,000 Pots , York Art Gallery, 2015

Clare Twomey with her installation Manifest: 10,000 Pots, York Art Gallery, 2015

The expansion of the gallery has enabled York Museums Trust to establish the new Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), which brings together four significant private collections of British Studio Ceramics, amounting to over 5,500 pieces. To mark the opening of CoCA,  Clare Twomey was commissioned to create Manifest: ten thousand pots,  an installation that features 10,000 slipcast ceramic bowls piled high in towering columns. The precarious nature of the stacked works alludes to how collections grow and the challenges this presents to collectors.