A UNIQUE showing as part of Grassington Festival offers a rare opportunity to view the work of Marmaduke Miller and Stephen Garnett, reports Victoria Benn.

AS part of Grassington Festival, artist Kitty North is hosting a very special exhibition at her gallery at Prospect House in Arncliffe, featuring the work of acclaimed Yorkshire artist, Marmaduke Miller and award winning former Craven Herald photographer, Stephen Garnett. Kitty North’s premise is simple, ‘to display their beautiful works of art in the place in which they were created’, which is of course our very own Dales.

“Marmaduke Miller was a bit of a legend in his own lifetime. He was at the centre of Littondale life – running the historic Bridgend bed and breakfast and the wonderful Falcon Inn at Arncliffe, as well as one of the Dales’ first taxi services,” she confides, “and yet he was also a highly regarded figure on the Yorkshire art scene from the 1930s to the 1960s. His work was regularly shown at the important northern galleries, including the Royal Academy in London.

“I have the highest regard for his work; his watercolours are incredibly delicate and sensitive, and it is right that they are receiving the proper showing they deserve.”

‘A Dales View’ also exhibits the work of Stephen Garnett from Skipton, who has been photographing the Dales and its people for over 30 years. “It might sound like an odd combination,” explains Kitty, “but Stephen must have photographed nearly everyone and everything in the Dales throughout his career. Like Marmaduke, Stephen has a tremendous eye and his photographs are full of insight, telling stories about life in the Dales.”

With Marmaduke’s life, work and creativity so inextricably bound together, Kitty is keen that the exhibition offers insight into this great local character and artist. Marmaduke’s earlier artworks coined his ‘black and whites’, are probably the most distinctive part of his legacy, consisting of intricate etchings and ‘wood cuts’ of Dales’ scenes, and characterful pen and ink portraits of local people and village life. “I understand it was a common sight to see him in the bar getting somebody to sit still so he could sketch them.”

Marmaduke’s ‘black and whites’ were created in abundance following the completion of his studies at Skipton Art School in 1929, a place which enabled him to meet like minded talent, such as Dan Binns, who also achieved much in his day and whose son, David Binns is the well-known wildlife painter.

Reproductions of Marmaduke’s wood cuts and pen and ink portraits peppered the pages of the early Dalesman magazines – along with his essays on Dales life, and it was his ‘black and whites’ which took him and his work to the Royal Academy in 1938, which led swiftly to several showings at the prestigious northern galleries of the time, including The Laing at Newcastle and The Ferens in Hull. Cartwright Hall, Bradford, still hold one of his wood block prints, entitled Amerdale, in its collection.

Although watercolours feature in Marmaduke’s sketchbooks from the outset, they became the hallmark of his later work. In an interview in 1960 Marmaduke commented that he preferred to paint in spring when “the dominant colour is a warm dull yellow ochre,” and that he had “little time for summer with its preponderance of green.” His wide use of colour affirming his deep love for his subject.

Intriguingly Marmaduke never owned a camera, “He never took the opportunity to transfer the 3D to the 2D; instead he was forever putting up a cut out piece of card to his eye and framing a composition,” explains Kitty. Not quite ‘life through a lens’ but certainly it highlights great similarities with fellow exhibitor Stephen Garnett, whose landscape photography, in particular, has won him many accolades, not least, the title of Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2009.

Stephen is best-known for his work as chief photographer for the Craven Herald. Over the last 30 years, his work has interwoven him into the rich tapestry of rural life, enabling him to capture fresh, engaging imagery of everything from hard hitting issues like foot and mouth; to the simple natural beauty of lambing time.

“I am constantly inspired by observing man’s interactions with the Dales landscape”, explains Stephen, “from a farmer tending his sheep in harsh conditions, to a fell runner pushing their body to its limits. I pride myself on being in the right place at the right time to capture defining moments, whether that be a dramatic landscape, or a split second of sporting action.”

A Dales View; one exhibition offering true insight into the beauty of the Dales over the last hundred years from two very different, but equally sensitive and extraordinarily talented viewpoints.

A Dales View is being exhibited at Prospect House, Arncliffe, and runs until July 1. This is a free event as part of Grassington Festival. For more details, visit the website: grassington-festival.org.uk