First held in 2002, Great North Art Show is an exhibition of contemporary art by Northern artists, held annually in Ripon Cathedral during early September.

But what is the art show all about, and what makes it special?

To discover this, we need to delve back in time to when the art show first began.

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The history of Great North Art Show

Back in 2001, an inspired idea emerged.

For centuries, the North has produced many famous and highly acclaimed artists. But more often than not, the place to exhibit and promote their work was in the South. It was time for a change.

The lightbulb moment came when one of our trustees was packing artworks to send down to London. Often, galleries want to see the collection even before they choose to exhibit, so being an artist in the North can quickly become very expensive!

Recoiling at the £400 price tag for postage, packing and insurance, she decided it was high time there was an exhibition of equal stature open to the public in the North.

“It is time for people from all walks of life in the North to see their own art. Art that is easy to access, available to all and – above all – to be enjoyed,” she said.

It swiftly become clear the way forward was to hold a large open exhibition devoted to promoting the diversity of contemporary art in the North in a significant and impressive space.

This was a pioneering and innovative idea at the time in the North.

In 2002, Great North Art Show became the first event to present an annual open exhibition of art in the North by professional contemporary artists with Northern connections.



Why Ripon Cathedral?

Great North Art Show has been held in the magnificent surroundings of Ripon Cathedral since the first event in 2002.

The light and spacious cathedral lends itself perfectly to showcasing artwork, and people feel uninhibited in its gentle surroundings.

It has always been a key aim of the exhibition to encourage visits by people who would never normally go to a gallery or exhibition space. The cathedral provides neutral territory, in which non-art audiences, locals, visitors and tourists alike can view and appreciate contemporary art.

2014 is also a special year for Ripon Cathedral.

In April 2014, there was a review of the dioceses in Yorkshire, which led to the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield.

The new Diocese of West Yorkshire & The Dales is now the largest diocese in England. Led by the Bishop of Leeds, it has three cathedrals of equal status: Ripon, Wakefield and Bradford.

Great North Art Show 2014 therefore gives visitors from the new, wider diocese areas a chance to see their cathedral – possibly for the first time.



What else does 2014 hold for Great North Art Show?

Since its conception, Great North Art Show has grown and expanded in style and quality. This year, the show will promote a fantastic selection of artwork by some of the finest contemporary painters, etchers, and printmakers in the North of England.

In addition, 2014 will feature a small exhibition “The Art of Portraiture”, and three substantial art prizes for:

  • Best Body of Work
  • Best Body of Small Works
  • Best in Show

This year’s show features painters, printmakers and photographers, including – for the first time this year – an exhibition promoting the Art of Portraiture in the North. All art exhibited is for sale.

With 46 artists on show, it will clearly demonstrate how diverse and innovative art can be.

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International audiences and Northern roots

Great North Art Show now attracts over 12,000 visitors annually from around the world, including as far afield as Japan and Canada.

But the exhibition will always remain true to its Northern roots, showcasing and celebrating the work of Northern artists and bringing an internationally renowned celebration of Northern talent to the beautiful city of Ripon.

Great North Art Show is a not-for-profit charitable company run by an enthusiastic team of trustees, volunteers and supporters. We aim to bring art to the public, promote established and emerging artists and, happily at the same time, support works within Ripon Cathedral.

We hope you can join us in Ripon Cathedral between Saturday 30th August and Sunday 22nd September 2014 for this year’s show.

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