How York’s Heritage Won Over Brendan Hesmondhalgh

October 2nd, 2013
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Sculptor Brendan Hesmondhalgh is one of the founders of Make it Up North, happening this weekend. He however also has a long and illustrious career of his own. We take a look at his work and chat with the man behind the “art event of the year”.

How did you come to work with sculptures? You have initially been a ceramic sculptor but then moved on also using bronze for your art. Why?

I never planned to; it was all by chance really. I had planned to go and study criminology at University.
strong minded tutors guided me towards Art College (my law tutor and my art teacher)

I was always creative as a child, always making things. Bronze is a natural progression for me, as the work grows in scale in needs to be in a more durable material. Bronze is permanent and timeless. I love clay though! I will always sculpt in clay.

All of your sculptures depict animals/British wildlife. What fascinates you about them? Where do you take your ideas from?

Animals have always been the subject matter, we can relate to them. It’s not animal portraits; it’s about capturing the essence and character. Exaggeration and movement are important to me. I constantly try to play with the balance of the pieces to emphasize more movement.

You come from Lancashire, lived in North Wales, Edinburgh, and are settled in Yorkshire since 1998. Why did you stay here?

My grandfather was born in Sheffield, he always said Yorkshire was the place to be (he was right). The people are pleasantly blunt and the landscape is fantastic. I like people who say it as it is, you get plenty of that here.

Aside from that i married a Yorkshire lady!

You have participated in Art in Action and at Chelsea Flower Show. What are the future shows your sculptures will be exhibited in? Is there a particular show/event you would like to see your sculptures be part of?

I have just put in a new design for Chelsea Flower show again; I am very much looking forward to exhibiting there again. I am looking to do solo show in the future. I feel ready now.

I have stopped exhibiting in galleries for the last year, so i can re-focus and produce stronger work. Sometimes it can be like being on a treadmill. I am very much focusing on quality control.

You organise The Art Market with Co-founder Victoria Robinson. Can you tell us more about it? How did the idea evolve? Why is it important to foster local art? Why is it important that “artists work for artists?”

The idea came from a desire for artists to self promote within the area, lots of local galleries had closed. The artists needed a venue to showcase their work locally. At the time I exhibited nothing in Yorkshire, everything was travelling south, so we decided to create a place to exhibit ourselves.

Make It Up North is a new venture of The Art Market. The first event, taking place next Friday, is a pilot scheme. Compared to The Art Market, what is different about this new project? What do you want to achieve with it? Where do you see it in the future?

The main difference is that we solely focus on original art works, and we select the very best we can find. Be under no illusion the art market is a selected show with fantastic artists exhibiting also. We just feel we can produce Yorkshires best art fair   “Make It Up North” it has the potential to be something special for York. We need local people to come and support the event, and let us know what they think.

Its a three year plan, we will grow the event over this period of time. We are very hopeful of attracting a captive audience in York. Yorkshire’s city of culture…..

I feel strongly that this will be the place to find the next collectables; Art can have great investment potential.

Why choose York for the event?

It’s Heritage/Culture and already strong tourism infrastructure is its draw for me. Its geographical location makes it very accessible also, so we hope to bring a lot of additional visitors to York, which will be great for the local economy in the long run. And York is very Creative and has a good arts background.

This time, Cliff Wright is part of the programme. Have you collaborated with him before? Have you already got other well-known artists for the future Make It Up North events in mind?

I have known Cliff Wright for several years now. Cliff is incredibly talented artist and an inspirational teacher of art. We exhibit together on occasions and share ideas.

We are very excited about bringing exciting art to York in the future and are already talking to artists for next year’s event.

What do you want the visitors to take home from the event?

Great Art and Inspiration

Could you please end the following sentence for me,

Art is …a proper job!!!!!!



Make it Up North  – Friday 4th – Sunday 6th at The Guildhall, York

See over 40 Artists showing and selling their work at the event, from jewellery, sculpture, ceramics, art works, textile and illustration.

To find out about the programme of workshops, talks, Blood and Chocolate Photo Exhibition, demos… Click here.

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