Artists look skywards for inspiration for North York Moors National Park’s Dark Skies exhibition

Whether it’s a brooding storm or a starry night, the atmospheric skies above the North York Moors have provided a rich source of inspiration for new works of art in an upcoming exhibition at the National Park’s gallery in Danby.

The Dark Skies exhibition at the Inspired by… gallery, which opens on February 10 to coincide with the National Park’s annual celestial festival, features new pieces by over 20 artists together with contributions from Len Tabner, Leeds Fine Arts and East Anglian Marine Artists.

The exhibition runs until April 16 and will include a special preview on the first day followed by a ‘Love in the Air’ Valentine’s afternoon on February 11 where visitors can meet the artists and listen to music from harpist Sarah Dean.

The exhibition also includes a special display of wearable handcrafted jewellery by artists Jackie Selcraig, Leeds-based Liz Samways of inkylinky with her etched silver and copper pieces and Jenny Weston’s work using semi-precious stones.

Many of the artists have shared how skyward glances moved them to interpret the skies in their work.

For instance, landscape photographer Joe Cornish who has chosen four images, including a new picture of five fishermen reeling in their lines at Staithes, explains:

Dark skies are full of the doubt, suffering, toil, rage, depth, beauty, wonder and sometime sublime redemption of being fully human.”

Sea fishing Staithes Joe Cornish

Father and daughter Peter and Beverley Ann Hicks have created a series of paintings based on the dramatic skies they saw as they drove back to Danby after exhibiting at last September’s Staithes Festival of Art and Heritage. Their pieces include one that has seldom been shown but which Peter considers to be ‘amongst my best ever.’

Peter Hicks dark skies exhibition

Meanwhile Scarborough artist Kane Cunningham draws attention to the challenges of painting Pleinair when faced with less-than-ideal conditions:

The picture of Farndale was painted on the wettest day of the year. All the watercolour paint had washed off the paper. However I managed to complete the picture with pastels under a canopy tied to my Land Rover.”

Kane Cunningham - Farndale

Nocturnal animal life also features in the exhibition including a moon gazing hare by sculptor Emma Stothard and ceramic studies of owls by Dave Cooke.

Sally Ann Smith, curator of the Inspired by… gallery comments:

While the sky features in many pieces of art, making it the subject matter has enabled the artists to capture the power of the dark skies, whether it comes to evoking a particular mood, changing how the landscape looks or affects animal behaviour, or interpreting the National Park’s star-filled heavens at night.”

For further information go to

EU flogDark Skies Festival is part of Destination Partnerships Moors and Dales, a partnership project running until 1 March 2019 to boost rural tourism across the four protected landscapes within North Yorkshire.

This project is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

The four protected partnerships are the North York Moors National Park. Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.



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