Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents an exhibition of work by Norman Ackroyd CBE, RA, one of Britain’s foremost landscape artists and contemporary printmakers working today. The Furthest Lands showcases a vast range of work that explores the western edges of the British Isles and runs at YSP, near Wakefield, from 17 November 2018 to 24 February 2019.
Starting in the extreme north of the Shetland Islands, The Furthest Lands journeys south over 950 miles to the far south-west point of Ireland, through a display of the artist’s intricate aquatint etchings and a small collection of watercolours. Ackroyd’s characteristic muted tones add depth and energy to both familiar and faraway landscapes, including works such as Sun & Rain, Galway Bay (1999), Skellig Sunset (2007) and Off Hermaness, Shetland (2018).
Ackroyd made his first etching over 60 years ago at Leeds College of Art (now named Leeds Arts University). Created in the same period, Storm Over Gildersome (1959) – an atmospheric etching on steel which depicts the skyline of the Yorkshire village – features within the exhibition and has never been shown before. Many of Ackroyd’s early etchings were created in the Yorkshire landscape. Extending this documentation, Ackroyd has produced a new limited-edition etching, derived from YSP’s unique landscape following a visit earlier in the year. The exhibition is also accompanied by a full-colour catalogue.
Ackroyd will host a series of events at YSP to coincide with The Furthest Lands, including an Etching Demonstration, using sugar lift or soft ground etching, on 16 February 2019, in which he will show the process behind creating an aquatint print, from start to finish, working from his plein air watercolour drawing books through to a final print. The following day, Ackroyd will be in conversation with long-term friend John Bell from Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk.
Born in Leeds in 1938, Ackroyd attended Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art in the 1960s. For more than 60 years he has travelled all over the UK documenting the interrelationship of landscape and its human inhabitants throughout history. He gave etching demonstrations across America in the 1970s and ’80s and was appointed Professor of Etching at Bloomington, Indiana and Richmond, Virginia. Ackroyd’s work is held in many public collections including British Museum, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; National Gallery of Scotland; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; and Tate Gallery, London.
Ackroyd is an advocate for the importance of art education – an ethos strongly supported by YSP, which was born out of Bretton Hall College in 1977, where Executive and Founding Director, Peter Murray worked. Ackroyd was one of over 100 artists to sign a recent open letter to The Guardian expressing concern over the exclusion of arts and creative subjects from the new English Baccalaureate, or EBacc, for secondary school children.
Norman Ackroyd CBE, RA studied at Leeds College of Art from 1956 to 1961, and subsequently at the Royal College of Art, London from 1961 to 1964. He has had many solo exhibitions, both in Britain and internationally, including Anderson O’Day; Aitken Dott, Edinburgh; Jersey Arts Centre, Channel Islands and the Compass Gallery, Glasgow. Solo shows abroad include the National Museum of Art, Santiago, Chile; Jan Turner, Los Angeles; Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia and the Mickleson Gallery, Washington DC. Ackroyd has also received several public mural commissions, produced in etched stainless steel or bronze. Recent commissions include Lloyds Bank, Freshfields, and Lazards Bank, Stratton Street, London; British Airways, Birmingham Airport; Tetrapack, Stockley Park, Heathrow; and a bronze mural for the Main Hall of the British Embassy, Moscow. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and was made Senior Fellow, Royal College of Art in 2000; he was awarded a CBE for Services to Engraving and printing in 2007. Ackroyd lives and works in London. In May 2018, he was one of six artists – along with Tracey Emin CBE, Grayson Perry CBE, Fiona Rae, Barbara Rae CBE and Yinka Shonibare MBE – to create artwork for a special set of stamps which celebrates the milestone 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts.