Looking for the Light

The snow in early March may have prevented the artist from attending her private view, but it certainly didn’t stop us from celebrating the opening of Looking for the Light, our spring exhibition with Pascale Rentsch RSW. The much-anticipated solo show started a week later, where Pascale talked through her new body of work, created exclusively for Watermark Gallery.

In the video coverage taken just before the opening Pascale talks with owner of Watermark Gallery, Liz Hawkes about the inspiration and ideas behind this year’s new exhibition. The key theme is, as the title suggests, the light which Pascale said she is always keen to capture no matter what type of day it is. “When I go outside I am always looking for the light. It might just be a tiny glint or glimmer on the side of a rock or a flower but whenever I see it I want to capture it as it makes me feel positive and gives me hope.”

The result is a very strong selection of 25 all new paintings of the landscape near Pascale’s home in East Lothian, a home she shares with her husband, bird expert and artist Darren Woodhead SWLA and their three boys. Her knowledge and appreciation of the area are clearly portrayed in her paintings which are not only visually very beautiful but also have appropriate titles such as “In Awe”, “Sea Sanctuary” and “Golden Shore”. When describing how she decides what to paint Pascale quite often talks about just seeing a particular spot and feeling compelled to paint. The location of “Where the Wildflowers Are” was seen whilst out with a friend, whilst “River Edge I” was painted alongside her mother who was visiting from Switzerland at the time. And although it was particularly foggy on the day she painted “Coastline Gorse” the mist only heightened the yellow colour of the gorse, which she is able to convey beautifully in the painting.

We are delighted that Pascale chose Watermark Gallery as the venue for her first solo exhibition since being awarded full membership of the prestigious Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) in autumn 2022. Due to the late start Looking for the Light will continue until 15th April 2023 and is available to view in our Harrogate gallery and also on this website.

View the exhibition here.

Christmas Shopping Days

Time to get sorted for Christmas!

It’s that time of year again when we are dressing our gallery for Christmas and generally feeling festive. And to fully embrace the spirit of Christmas we are organising our special shopping days, with 15% off, both in the gallery and online.

This year we’ve organised three Christmas shopping days which are as follows:

Thursday 17th November – 10am to 6.30pm (with late night shopping)

Friday 18th November – 10am to 5pm

Saturday 19th November – 10 am to 5pm

On these days, in both the gallery and online we will be offering a fabulous festive 15% off all our contemporary works of art including paintings by all our contemporary artists, ceramics, jewellery, glass, wooden boxes and a large selection of gifts.

So, if you’ve been thinking about buying a piece of art now is the time to do it. Do come and join us and feel free to let your friends and family know too!

For online visitors – please quote XMAS22 in the coupon section of your checkout page. If you get stuck please contact us on 01423 562659 and we will talk you through it.

Please note: Unfortunately our 15% offer does not include works of art from our Modern British collection. Read our full terms and conditions here.



Andrew Farmer ROI

As we approach the opening of his solo exhibition, North Landing, in October, artist Andrew Farmer talks to Mag North‘s editor, Colin Petch about his work, his inspiration and why he loves to paint en plein air.

There is something immediately likeable about this accomplished painter, as we talk in his studio, anonymously situated at the bottom of the garden at the family’s South Yorkshire home.

Anxious to convey the philosophy behind his practice, the artist, who still appears genuinely baffled by the ever-growing appetite for his painting, explains: “I’m all about anti-commercialism. If something’s selling – I get suspicious.”

“At the moment, there’s a real thing about plein-airism. I don’t care what anyone else is doing. It’s not tunnel vision – I am aware of what’s going on, but I don’t let things kind of sway me – and if I know that the in-thing is green as a colour, I don’t go and make loads of green paintings. I just stay on my own track and watch everything else pass me by.”

Although currently gravitating to working more in the studio, Andrew Farmer is a key member of ‘The Northern Boys’ painting group, whose members are the recipients of three national British plein air awards and for which ‘en plein air’ is in their very DNA, so one imagines it won’t be too long before the artist is back in the fresh air.

Like his philosophy, Farmer’s style too is definitely his own: “A lot of my paintings are very loose. When I started out, I did the groundwork, so underpinning my looseness – this kind of fresh approach – is this underpinning of structure. It’s been a real progression to get to this looseness.” His language of painting and explanation of his practice is an education.

“There’s a big thing about ‘finding a style and then sticking with it’ – but I feel as an artist I should be free as a bird.” You can only agree. His latest exhibition is a case in point.

Farmer is captivated by ‘light’: “A lot of artists – when starting a drawing, they’re thinking about how dark is the dark – how light is the light? I’m thinking how much light is there in the dark? People have commented on my work – that they’re quite light. There’s no real black. Just a suggestion of darkness. For me: that’s how I see life – there’s light in the dark always – and the impressionists knew that. Their shadows weren’t grey or black – they’re colours.”

Did art click for him when still at school? “We have key memories from childhood. One when I was age 7 or 8, at home drawing my name in 3D letters – and found I could do it. A relative said: “That’s good. What do you want to be when you’re older?” “I’m going to be an artist!” That was the first time I said it – and always said it from that point.”

After school, Farmer headed to Doncaster College of Art, which he describes as incredible, before attending Canterbury – and the Art School established by David Schutt. At both College and University, sculpture, print making, life drawing, still life and landscape painting featured constantly. Farmer is clear the artist learns so much from doing.

And when did it became clear to Farmer he could excel with oils? “Foundation year at college – during a landscape project. “I was entranced by the material. The buttery quality. The smell. It’s delicious.” Farmer believes there’s something about oils that acrylic just doesn’t have.

More by accident than design, Andrew Farmer is certainly a pleaser of crowds. His wonderful new paintings and drawings of the Yorkshire coast and Cleveland Way for his forthcoming solo exhibition North Landing (at Watermark Gallery from 14th Oct to 12th Nov) are being eagerly anticipated far beyond his Yorkshire home.

By Colin Petch

Editor of Mag North

Luna’s Week at Watermark

This summer Watermark Gallery was joined by Luna Morillon-Rios, a year 11 student on work experience from St Aidan’s School in Harrogate. From the moment Luna stepped through the door we were determined to keep her busy with a whole range of tasks, from helping with a photo shoot to visual merchandising, serving customers to writing this blog. We gained a huge amount from having Luna on board and thought she made a real impact in a very short space of time. But don’t take our work for it. Here’s her account of what it was  really like to work for us …

Before the start of my work experience at Watermark Gallery I was extremely nervous about the whole week. I didn’t know whether I would enjoy the tasks or the work environment. However, on arrival I was given a tour of all the different displays and rooms which gave me a sense of the different art styles sold at the gallery – my favourite being the wide variety of ceramics!

I gained so many new experiences which I didn’t expect. On my first day I was lucky enough to help with a photoshoot for new art pieces being displayed and sold at the gallery. By getting involved in the process I gained insight into the precise, detailed work which goes into creating an aesthetically-pleasing and comprehensive website, which I think will be helpful for any work in the future that has an online presence. I also worked with another staff member to reorganise the back gallery, creating a whole new display for the ceramic pieces. One collection which caught my eye is by an artist called Michele Bianco, as the varied textures and colours used create a remarkable collection- my favourite piece is called the Ripple Vessel.

On my second day I researched a ceramicist called Robert Goldsmith as I was asked to produce an informative poster about his company, Selborne Pottery (now on display in the gallery!). Robert produces a beautiful collection of tableware; mugs, jugs and bowls, in a variety of different sizes, all individually decorated. My favourite pattern was “Allium” as I love the design of the flowers with the stray petals floating around them.

In addition to selling original paintings and prints, Watermark Gallery also sells 3D work including sculpture, ceramics and contemporary jewellery. I helped the owner of the gallery audit a new range of jewellery recently submitted for consideration by students at the York School of Jewellery. I found this very exciting as it gave me a sneak peek into the different stages of introducing new products to the gallery and some of the decisions that need to be made.

By the end of my week, I felt I had gained a much better understanding of how a gallery actually works and I’m looking forward to popping back in to see the results of some of the artistic decisions that were made whilst I was there.

Watermark Gallery would like to thank Luna for all her hard work during the week she spent as part of her team and we wish her all the very best for her forthcoming A-level studies.


How to apply for Own Art

You’ve heard the term and seen the leaflets, but what is this Own Art scheme that everyone talks about; are you eligible and how do you apply?

What is Own Art?

First things first, Own Art is a legitimate scheme that is not a scam. It allows customers the opportunity to buy a piece of contemporary art or craft and pay for it over 10 months, in equal instalments at 0% finance. That means there is no interest to pay.

Own Art is a national scheme that is run by an organisation called Creative United who are in partnership with Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

If you apply to pay for a piece of art using the scheme you would fill out a form, either in the gallery or sent to you by email. Your credit agreement would be with a company called Novuna Finance.

Who uses Own Art?

Since 2004 over 60,000 customers have used the Own Art scheme to buy works of art from over 300 galleries in the UK. Watermark Gallery in Harrogate is one of those galleries and we had to apply to be a member which we did in 2020. You can see the full list of galleries listed here.

Although Own Art was originally set up to help make art buying more affordable and accessible to a wider group of people, the scheme is used by all types of people who recognise the benefits of spreading payments at no extra cost.


Are you eligible?

Probably yes!

You can apply to Own Art if you are over 18 and a permanent resident in the UK. You also have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Working at least 16 hours per week (employed or self employed)
  • Retired or in receipt of a pension
  • In receipt of disability allowance

If the above doesn’t apply to you then perhaps you have a partner or family member who is willing to apply instead?

How to apply

It’s very simple and takes about 10 minutes to complete the forms. Here are the steps:

  1. Contact Watermark Gallery stating which artwork you would like to buy using Own Art.
  2. We can arrange for you to come to the gallery to fill out the application, or we can send it to you by email to fill in at home.
  3. When they receive the application, Novuna Finance completes a credit check, approves the application and let’s us know the application has been successful.
  4. We contact you to arrange collection or delivery of the artwork.

What can I buy using Own Art?

Any piece of contemporary art and craft, by a living artist, is eligible for the scheme. Our application allows you to spend from £100 up to £2500 and it is possible to buy more than one item. If you want to spend more than £2500 that is possible but you would have to make an initial payment as a deposit to cover the difference.

Unfortunately, this does mean that works of art by Modern British artists, such as John Piper and Edward Bawden, are not covered by the scheme.

Contact us

If you would like to go ahead with an Own Art application, or you need more help, please contact Liz Hawkes on + 44 (0) 1423 562659 or by email: [email protected].




New Yorkshire Landscapes by Paul Talbot Greaves

New to the gallery this month is a collection of work by Yorkshire-based, contemporary watercolour artist, Paul Talbot Greaves.

Having recently spent time in well known parts of the Yorkshire Dales, Ribblesdale and Swaledale, it’s no surprise to see paintings of Linton Bridge and Pen y Ghent feature in the range. However, quite often Paul’s work focuses on detailed elements of the landscape; a gateway, field entrance or wall, all of which are likely to show his main inspiration – the light – and the way it casts its shadows to create contrasts on the scenery he observes.

When Paul isn’t out in the Dales painting he is often found writing – Paul is a regular contributor to The Artist magazine and has also written several books. He also teaches and regularly gives online tutorials in painting techniques as well as organised study tours in the UK and overseas.

At Watermark Gallery we hope you enjoy this latest body of work, all available to buy online or in our Harrogate gallery on Royal Parade. Prices for original paintings by Paul range from £240 -£650.

Read more about Paul Talbot Greaves here.

Rough Grass and Pasture by Paul Talbot-Greaves

Michele Bianco

There are a number of exquisite pieces of work at Watermark that instinctively make you want to reach out and touch – although you probably shouldn’t. Key among them are the natural-world inspired forms of Inverness-based Ceramicist Michele Bianco.

Along with fellow artist and friend, Pascale Rentsch, Bianco will take centre stage at the Gallery in March 2022, with a perfectly-titled ‘Off The Beaten Track’ exhibition.

Michele Bianco grew up in North Yorkshire and as a child, always loved to draw, write and illustrate stories. She explains she “was always an ‘outdoors’ child too and enjoyed creating hideaways and secret dens out in the woods with my older sister”. The natural forms, patterns and textures of nature, that were her playground then, are a clear influence on her work. Bianco’s inspiration is linked directly to being outside in wild and empty landscapes.

“I sketch outdoors and am inspired by nature – the patterns, the textures, the colours. From my studio, I can look out onto the amazing landscape and translate my sketches, ideas and impressions into three-dimensional forms. The process is intuitive and very absorbing.” Bianco is clearly fascinated by the world around her. She also enjoys considering the passage of time and the way changes occur and are evidenced in the geology and forms of the landscape.


Initially encouraged to follow an academic path, the artist studied Architecture at university. However she quickly realised it wasn’t ‘hands on’ enough for her and after graduating went back to art college.”

After study, Bianco established her own gallery: “I set up and ran it for 10 years, showing work by emerging and nationally renowned artists. I gradually became more and more interested in the ceramics and sculpture that I was exhibiting and started doing various courses in those disciplines.”

Predominantly using stoneware clay, Bianco hand-builds her pieces using a range of techniques. The form is made initially by pinching and coiling the clay, then refined as it dries, by beating, smoothing and scraping. Once happy with the basic form, she hand-carves into it – and those shapes are informed by the curves and outlines of the form itself. “I love clay because it is endlessly challenging and so versatile. You can use it in so many different ways in terms of the physical making techniques and then there is the added interest of firing and glazing. It seems like there is so much to learn about clay that I’m constantly finding new possibilities and creative processes.”

Coming to clay from a sculpture/architecture background, Bianco is much more concerned with making visually interesting objects, than with functional items. She also likes to work slowly – and hand-building lends itself to that. “I started carving into my forms at the beginning of 2018 and this has become my principal way of creating my finished forms. It is slow, delicate work which I find totally absorbing and allows me to become completely focussed on my work.”


The artist readily admits that her practice is one of constant evolution: “I think I tend to work quite intuitively and I’m not sure I’m really organised enough to have themes as such. My work does tend to evolve quite quickly and really is just a natural process of development. My early work was quite architectural. I made geometric shapes, burnished them and used smoke firing techniques to create interesting surfaces. Subsequently I started making vessel forms with surface decoration made by hand cutting intricate stencils and developing glazes and slips to layer colours. These pieces were very much inspired by nature and in some ways the work I do now is a more three-dimensional development of that work.”

The individuality of each Michele Bianco piece must create challenges? “Each piece is different, but the initial making process usually takes place over 2 or 3 days. On day one I form the shape, usually using a mixture of hand-building techniques. Then I allow it a ‘controlled-dry’ overnight. The following day I draw onto the surface of the form to indicate the shapes or patterns that I want to carve. The initial carving is done usually using a ribbon tool and then the carving is gradually refined over the next day or so, using various tools – metal ribs and metal sculpture tools. As the piece slowly dries, the carving can be refined by degrees. After drying, pieces are fired to 950C. My pieces are often only partially glazed, so I apply latex resist to areas I don’t want glaze or slip before dipping in glaze. Once dry, the pieces are again fired to around 1200C (depending on the glaze used).”

It seems almost pointless and slightly insulting, to ask an artist such as Bianco, who she might cite as inspiration. But she readily answers: “My sculpture hero is Eduardo Chillida. I find the positive and negative spaces in his work intriguing. I also love the wood sculpture of David Nash. Wood carving is a big influence on me, because the material lends itself to carving and creating wonderful textures. In terms of ceramics, I’m in awe of the amazing sculptures of Dorothee Loriquet – both for the wonderful shapes and subtle surface textures and colours – and the work of Annie Turner is endlessly fascinating to me. I’d love to watch her work!”

Although based in her beautiful studio in the remote Scottish Highlands – Michele Bianco remains at the epi-centre of current creative thinking: “The most important element of the outside world in my creative process is Instagram! It’s such a positive creative community and particularly during the pandemic has been a wonderful way to stay connected with other creative people and see what is going on around the world. It’s also a great way to get feedback on ideas or technical issues.”

Bianco believes that ceramics are now getting more attention as an art form, which is very positive. “I think ‘craft’ should be considered of equal artistic value to ‘fine art’ and I’m really encouraged by the interest that there currently is in all forms of making.”

Characteristically humble, she says: “I think I’m just trying to make work which expresses in a small way, the beauty that I see around me in nature and the way it makes me feel.” She is certainly doing that.

In addition to preparing for our 2022 exhibition, Michele Bianco is currently making ‘50 walks/50 works’ – to celebrate a rather significant birthday. Her beautiful accounts of the journey which will ultimately take her from the North-East coast to her Inverness studio are a joy to read – and further reinforce the creative credentials of this extraordinary artist.

This article was written for Watermark Gallery by Colin Petch

Join us for Christmas Shopping …

Christmas Shopping Day – 10% Discount

Date: Thursday 11th November

Time: 10am to 8pm

To help everyone get into the Christmas spirit whilst getting their shopping done as early as possible, we’re holding our first ever Christmas Shopping event on Thursday 11th November at our Harrogate gallery.





Join us at anytime from 10am right through to 8pm for festive drinks and 10% discount off everything purchased on the day. No need to RSVP.

*Please note, our 10% discount offer is only applicable to purchases made in our Harrogate gallery and not online. Gift vouchers are not included and it is not applicable to purchases made with the Own Art scheme.

Harrogate Independents Join Forces to Raise Money for the Local Food Bank


Here at Watermark, we have teamed up with a group of Harrogate-based independent retailers to promote our charity ‘giraffle’, raising funds for the Trussell Trust Food Bank in the lead-up to the festive season.

We organised this initiative in conjunction with children’s illustrator, Jane Ray, with whom we collaborated for an exhibition last month in September. Jane decorated a bespoke 5ft tall papier-mâché giraffe for us, based on the main character from the book Zeraffa Girraffa, which she illustrated for author Dianne Hofmeyr in 2014.

Just as the giraffe from the book travelled afar to get to her new home in Paris, the 3D Zeraffa is travelling around the Harrogate district throughout the months of October and November, before being raffled off to one lucky winner. So far, Zeraffa has been showcased in the windows of Catherine Smith Vintage on Cold Bath Road, Bespoke Eyewear on Royal Parade, and Westmorland Sheepskins on Montpellier Parade. Her next stop will be the Little Ripon Bookshop on Westgate, Ripon.

Liz Hawkes, Owner of Watermark Gallery said “During our Jane Ray exhibition in September. Zeraffa was a real talking point in the window of our gallery, and we had countless enquiries about buying her. I think people saw her as ray of sunshine during a somewhat challenging time. This gave us the idea of creating an ongoing artwork initiative to unite local independent retailers as well as raising money for a great local cause.” 

Tickets to enter the raffle are £5 each and all proceeds are being donated to the Trussell Trust Food Bank, Harrogate branch. Tickets can be purchased from Watermark Gallery and the winner will be drawn on Friday 18th December 2020.

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