The North York Moors is a rich and varied landscape of hill, dale, coast and moorland: a glacial landscape whose character shines out in a hard winter, when stretches of wind-drifted snow are broken.
But in summer the brilliant purple of heather, the lush bursts of bilberry bushes and the enormous skies reveal somewhere altogether different.
“It is hardly surprising,” says artist Ian Scott Massie, “that so many artists are drawn, like me, to capture this wonderful intriguing place made up of the disparate elements of wilderness and cosy-ness.”
For this artist it is also a landscape of stories. Saints and soldiers, smugglers and pilgrims, thieves and industrialists have all had their moments in the sun here.
Moor Stories is inspired by a selection of this rich harvest of tales: the history, folklore and legend that overlays the land like a tapestry.
“I have picked stories,” he says, “that have reached out to me as an artist and used them to create pictures that reflect some particular aspect of each place. “
The stories themselves are gathered together in a book which accompanies the exhibition.
Massie is an artist, writer and musician who lives in Masham. He grew up in London and Slough, but in adult life has chosen to make his home in the North. His work seeks to portray the personality of the landscape, specifically the effect upon it of light and weather, coloured and textured to reveal its character. His main influences are the artists of the British Romantic School of the 1930s, most notably Paul Nash and John Piper.
Fans of Mastermind on TV may remember him as a semi-finalist answering questions on Nash a few years ago.
“It’s a privilege and a delight to be hosting this exhibition,” says Al Milnes of Staithes Gallery.
“Ian Scott Massie’s subjects are familiar and iconic to those of us who know and love the North York Moors, yet these exquisite watercolours and screenprints also evoke the rich seams of history, legend and folklore that lie beneath the surface.”
Moor Stories by Ian Scott Massie is on view at Staithes Gallery from tomorrow and continues until April 8.
Visit www.staithesgallery.co.uk; you can call 01947 841840or 07972 012464 or email email@example.com.
The gallery is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 10am to 5pm or at other times by appointment.