Virginia Ray and Paul Wearing: The Natural Pleasures of Mr Yorke

13 Jan 2018 – 24 Feb 2018

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New Ashgate Gallery

Surrey, United Kingdom


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The New Ashgate Gallery welcomes back Virginia Ray for an exhibition of new paintings. Virginia’s work is shown with Paul Wearing’s ceramics.


Virginia returns to the North Yorkshire landscape where her family has lived and worked for generations, showing a real sense of belonging and identity. Her passion for painting this area has led to extensive research into the Yorke family who lived in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Through memory and personal connections, Virginia’s new body of work illustrates how the lives of the Yorke family were linked with the landscape and in particular Fish Pond Wood and Yorkes Folly. Observation, research and imagination merge with her personal memories. Referencing her own and found photographs and incorporating materials gathered from the landscape itself, Virginia seeks to create an interwoven layering of local history with memory, using the texture and colour of Yorkshire. Working in the tradition of British Romantic Landscape artists such as Paul Nash, Virginia returns to the same subject for inspiration, North Yorkshire.

The Natural Pleasures of Mr Yorke

The Yorke family were important landowners in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire and the story of the woods and grounds around their home at Bewerley Hall is intriguing. Over three generations, the Yorkes made a huge impact on this landscape but it was in the nineteenth and early twentieth century that interest in the pleasure gardens and parkland was at its height. The work in this exhibition is concerned with Virginia's memories of this landscape and with the Yorke’s creation and enhancement of these areas of pleasure.

Virginia’s work is shown with Paul Wearing’s ceramics

Paul engages with the relationship between nature and culture through the glazed surface and form of coil-built vessels. The vessel is a great symbol of civilisation and echoes the man-made and structural environment in which I live. In contrast to this, naturally occurring textures found within urban and rural environments perpetually interact and alter this order. Surfaces have undergone energetic change and transformation through forces of growth and decay, and it is these events, these moments which affirm life. Such textures can be rendered through volatile and blistering glazes. The tension between the man-made form and natural [glaze] phenomena brings into focus the nature of our materiality and fragility. It is at its most potent however when calling us to exist in the present, inviting us to experience sensuous, tactile qualities, reconnecting us with a direct, immediate perception of the world. The ruinous surface as a call to live, to experience and grasp the moment is rooted in time.

The vessels are formed by press-moulding the base and coiling the walls; a slower technique allowing me constant flexibility and control. Certain marks and textures revealing the making process remain as a ground for the glazing. Paul’s treatment of the glazed surface renders evidence of brush marks and chemical reactions. Once applied, the materials are set to react within the conditions of the oxidised firing process reaching around 1230 degrees centigrade. Glazing and firing processes are repeated until the optimum depth and complexity of surface appears.

Exhibiting artists

Virginia Ray

Paul Wearing


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