A very different perspective
SNICKELWAY TO GO: Dr Janet Barnes has spent years masterminding the transformation of York Art Gallery which will open up previously hidden parts of the city. She takes Stephen McClarence on a tour of the secret spaces.
KELETONS in the cupboard? Artist Mark Hearld keeps his in the cellar of his York home, along with the Roman sarcophagus it was buried in. He’s put it to good use in his exhibition at the city’s Art Gallery which reopens its doors next Saturday – Yorkshire Day! Flaunt those flat caps! Wield those whippets! Clutch those clichés! – after an £8m renovation.
The renovation has increased the gallery’s exhibition space by more than half and is opening up a two-acre “secret” area of York, hidden for a century behind high walls.
That’s the main reason I’m here on a sweltering afternoon, with the backpacked battalions of tourists marching rather listlessly through the streets. An ice cream van outside the Art Gallery is doing healthy trade (“Rum and raisin, dear?” “Passion fruit for me!” Must be the heat).
We’ll come to Secret York in a minute, with the promise of that ever-alluring word “snickelway”. But the skeleton can’t wait. When Hearld, the York gallery’s artist in residence, bought his Georgian home on The Mount, he already knew about its discovery in 1807, by builders laying foundations.
“They found a Roman vault which contained a 7ft long sarcophagus and when they opened it they found a female skeleton inside,” he says nonchalantly. It’s