"Guardians of the City" by Tim Gomersall & Richard Heald
It has been a wonderful few weeks since my last update. October saw my work enter one of my favourite independent galleries, the Saltbox Gallery in Helmsley, where a few of my offerings are looking for new permanent homes. We took a trip to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, where I was lucky enough to see a talk from one of my favourite artists – the incredible Dave McKean, whose dark, surreal and magical pieces leave my jaw on the floor every time I see them. I've also written a first draft of a kids' book I have had in my mind for some time, and have tried to find time between it all to draw and paint.
My main exciting news for the upcoming month is the pop-up exhibition I have with my pal, the photographer Richard Heald, at Butlers, Kirkstall forge. The exhibition is called Leeds through Lens and Line, and is all about the different ways we can picture the urban environment using the technology of the camera, and the age-old tools of pen, ink, pigment and paint. We also made a collaborative piece – Guardians of the City (pictured). I don’t think it would immediately be recognisable as my nor Richard’s work, which in my book makes it a worthwhile collaboration – the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and all that.
The piece works with the two creatures that have become symbols of the city over many generations – the graceful lions, which stand sentry over the Town Hall, and the wise European eagle owls, standing in gold on plinths in the Civic quarter, and adorning the Leeds coat of Arms. Neither creature has any direct link to the city. The lions, of course, hail from the plains of Africa, but have somehow been appropriated as a symbol of Britishness. As for the owls, there is little evidence of them inhabiting Yorkshire throughout most of the historical record. We have Sir John Savile, who developed the Leeds coat of arms in 1626, to thank for this. The Savile family were gifted vast tracts of Yorkshire by William the Conqueror, and Sir John, apparently, favoured the eagle owl. In both cases, the animals have little to do with Leeds-ness in itself, but are bound up with the preferences of those in power, and the bloody history of conquest and colonisation. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to make what you will of my re-drawings of them. I will say I enjoyed making the piece, and I’m glad that the Civic Quarter owl in the artwork now looks much more like a European Eagle Owl. I had always assumed they were barn owls when I passed them, based on their appearance, and only discovered they were supposed to be eagle owls when I started looking into their history for the exhibition!
The next month will be a busy one with art fairs and markets. A piece of original artwork, or a rare print, can make a really nice Christmas gift, and I will appreciate your support much more than would Amazon/ Jeff Bezos/ A.N. Other faceless internet conglomerate! You can catch me at:
LS16 Makers’ Market, High Farm, 12th November, 10am-3pm
RSPB Old Moor Christmas Market, 18th November, 10am-4pm
Old King’s Arms (Horsforth) Christmas Market, 19th November, afternoon
The Forge (Kirkstall) Christmas Market, 28th November, 3pm onwards
Horsforth Christmas Lights switch-on – 2nd December, 3pm onwards
Fox & Hounds (Cookridge) Christmas Market, 3rd December, afternoon.