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Olde Worlde? Is York just too traditional for modern art?

It is no secret that York is proud of its traditions and history. Most of the tourism is brought in by the city’s marvelous sites and celebrations of the past whether that be the Vikings, the Minster or the Roman walls. But with so much historical value in one rather small metropolis, it’s easy to neglect modern themes and the natural changing of the times.

When compared to cities like Manchester or Liverpool, York certainly falls flat when it comes to displaying modern art and encouraging young and abstract artists. Manchester has its Northern quarter where professional graffiti artists are free to work on public walls and an eclectic way of live is more socially acceptable. Liverpool has its very own Tate Modern Art Gallery and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology as well as a plethora of other galleries for the public to choose from.

The problem cannot be with Yorkshire as a whole as The Yorkshire Sculpture Park for example has no issue in experimenting with modern themes. So why is it that the residents of York are not having the opportunity to explore modern art like they would if they lived elsewhere?

It’s not that the art exhibited at the York Art Gallery is of low quality or recognition, it just seems to be the same kind of styles we see season to season. At the gallery there are allocated rooms to fine art, ceramics and seasonal exhibitions, so surely there should be a space put aside for modern art too?

When asked about the issue, York St John Fine Art student Emilia Brassington Jones said that she thinks there should be a larger range of artwork on display in places like galleries and public spaces in York city centre. The 21-year-old said,

“I think for some people art can just be broken down into drawing, painting and sculpture but I think it’s so much more than that and I think it all should be shown just as much as the original paintings.”

But the city may not be as doomed as it seems. Even though York’s main Gallery isn’t producing the kind of art we see elsewhere, creative minds are still being celebrated in the city. Kicking off in early November, Aesthetica Film Festival will bring short independent films from all over the world into this one little city in a celebration of culture, digital media and art.

Like the film festival, York has yet another taste of artistic expression through digital media with the UK premiere of the Van Gogh Experience at St Mary’s Church. Created by art historians, ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’ allows visitors to step into paintings with 360 degree digital projections, light and sound effects. The moving pictures, narration and use of illusions really makes it feel as though you are watching the work develop as the artist forms his paintings right in front of your face.

The event is open to the public up until April 19th.