Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Northern Freeze Show, Mill Bridge Gallery, Skipton 11 November 2011

Mill Bridge Gallery is Skipton's newest art venue, specialising in art photography and sculpture. Having been to their wonderful opening night in September it was lovely to be invited back to see their new winter-themed exhibition. The gallery is worth a visit for the building alone - a gorgeous late medieval structure, once an outbuilding or kitchen for a grander house on Skipton's High Street now long since demolished. The gallery's owners have done a marvelous job restoring it and the whitewashed walls and dark timber showed off the icy, snowy photos on display to perfection.

View from gallery garden
In an age when almost all the photos we see are digital, snapped on our mobile phones or compact cameras, it is a salutory experience to spend time with large format, pin-sharp prints. Tony Crossland's bleak snowy views of Ingleborough from the Turbary Road really brought this home. Every fragment of limestone was etched in the sharpest monochrome, while the blasted white slopes of the mountain stood out superbly against a faintly pink tinged sky. Daniel Shiel's pieces consisted of fascinating studies of frozen water. Some explored the swirling textures formed as the water solidified, others carried the shimmering reflections of unseen objects just out of shot. One particularly affecting picture showed the reflection of a bare winter tree which seemed to be trying to gather up armfuls of the dead leaves fallen and frozen into the water's surface.

Snow must be one of the hardest subjects to photograph given its lack of colour so it was interesting to see how the various artists had tackled it.I wondered if Brett Meikle had used lights and filters to produce his shot of a startling white sculptured snow drift set against a darkening evening sky of the deepest indigo and turquoise. Keith Craven's photograph Malham Tree looks rather ethereal set among the frosty grass but a closer look and the branches look rather odd  almost like streaks of electricity seared across the sky. The image is then reproduced on sheets of brushed aluminium which magnifies this rather magical effect.

At the preview
Another magical photo was friend Mark Butler's Cow Close Waterfall with its close up imagery of spray and  icicles and bright green moss. A reminder that winter can strike fast even before the summer seems to be over. Henry Meyer's black and white photos dating to the l940s and 50s record winters how they used to be. The one that lingers in my memory  was Blizzard taken in 1952 and showing a solitary figure hunched against the wind, trudging across a blurry snowy field. I felt cold just looking at it!

Alongside the winter photos are an excellent selection of other photographs, ceramics and sculptures some of the latter on show in the gallery's delightful garden overlooking the canal at the back. Do pay the show a visit if you find yourself in town, it's well worth supporting such a brave new venture.

The Mill Bridge Gallery is open Wed – Sat 10.30am – 6pm, other times by appointment.


  1. Hi Karen - Brett Meikle here. The photograph you refer to of snow sculptures had no filtering at all - the rather exaggerated blue is a result of the snow being warmed by the sun - a confusion of white balance issues if you like. my main concern was revealing the texture in the drift, all with a 25 year old manual focus lens.

  2. wow- that's really interesting Brett. Thanks so much for commenting!