As part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios I am showing a piece at a 'taster' exhibition for the event at the Royal Hall in Harrogate. This promises to be a real showcase - around 130 artists will be represented, who will all be opening their studios on 9th, 10th and 16th, 17th June, 2012.
Though I've driven past many times, I've never been into the building until now. Harrogate’s Royal Hall, is a stunning Edwardian Theatre built as a venue for events, arts and entertainment. Broad stone steps the width of the building's frontage take you up from the road to a series of elegant Entrance and Exit doors. My heart sinks when arriving at venues with stone pieces to deliver when I am greeted by steps! However handsome!
Harrogate's rise as a spa town of international repute, over a 200 year period led to the building of the Royal Hall in 1903 as a place of day and night time entertainment, a role it effortlessly replicates 100 years on.
Originally called the Kursaal, the Royal Hall’s name was changed during World War 1 to reflect a more patriotic position.
Kursaal is a German word which literally means “Cure Hall”, but in practice is used primarily for grand receptions and special occasions. Kursaals were a popular form of building in European spa destinations of the late 19th century, but never really caught on in Britain.
The building was designed by Robert Beale and Frank Matcham and was loosely based on Ostende Kursall in Belgium.
Matcham was responsible for many landmark theatre buildings and is recognised as one of the most prolific theatre architects of his time, building over 1250 theatres in the late 19th century including the London Coliseum and the Hackney Empire.
It isn't really a place I would normally expect to see an art exhibition, it has a very definite theatre feel, but the work will be hung in what is called the Ambulatory (a place for walking) which forms a semi circle of light, airy space with beautiful architectural features and stained glass.
It is a very grand building, and after its recent (2006 - 2008) restoration, is glittering and magnificent.
Of course I want to encourage everyone to come to the exhibiton of our work, which gives a hint of what can be expected at all our Open Studios in June - but the Royal Hall is quite a place to see in itself. Double reason to come!
The North Yorkshire Open Studios exhibition at the Royal Hall, Harrogate starts with a preview on Wednesday, May 30th 6 pm - 9 pm and continues from 31st May to 17th June, 2012.