Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
Artist Jade Montserrat was born in London and moved to Yorkshire when she was only a few months old. Her work addresses issues around land, nature and the body.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory? The one that really sticks out was a family excursion to a steam traction rally somewhere. Was it at Driffield? I’d have been a very small child, but I was extremely impressed with the noise, and the engines, and the power that they all seemed to have. There was a lot of singing in the car as we travelled to it, and an incident with a goldfish that one of my relatives had won from a stall at the showground. There were all the smells and colours of the rural environment added to the industrial ones. It was a very exciting day for a youngster.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why? I live on the coast, with a distant view of Robin Hood’s Bay, but the area that I really love, and which truly fascinates me, is that triangle of Fountains Abbey, Ampleforth and Helmsley – all those interwoven histories, the mysticism of the religious orders, the beginnings of industry and commerce. History “hiding in plain sight”, if you like. And the countryside is devastatingly beautiful as well. It all combines to be outstanding in every way.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire? It’s just being out there, in the countryside. I can go out for 20 miles in any direction from my own front door, and
I’m bound to discover new places, get new insights and feelings.
Do you have a favourite walk – or view? Yes, and it is one that I frequently do with Hilda, my dog – she’s a Jack RussellBorder terrier cross. Let me just say that it is not quite Whitby, and not quite Staithes, but somewhere vaguely in that area. Some things are best kept secret!
Which Yorkshire sportsperson, past or present, would you like to take for lunch? Sport really doesn’t come up on my radar, but I do admire anyone who has a passion and commitment for what they do, or wish to achieve. Nicola Adams is a perfect example, with her amazing talents combined with that dazzling smile. The bonus is that she is a role model for independence for so many young women.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, or past or present, would you like to take for dinner? Scarborough’s own Charles Laughton, whose family used to own the now demolished Pavilion Hotel, and who defied convention by carving out an incredible career on stage and screen, as well as being a fine director. He was never going to be a romantic leading man and was scathing about his own looks, but he led the field in major “character” roles, and was, apparently, quite a force to be reckoned with.
If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be? Stoupe Beck Sands, between Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay. Just get off the paths, and drink in the sheer beauty of it all.
What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity? It just ticks all the boxes. You want city life? You’ve got it. You enjoy rural tranquillity? Another tick. You fancy a coastline that has cliffs, soft sands, pebble beaches and seaside communities of all sizes? It’s there for you. The heritage, the fact that the county was built on graft and honest good work.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub? I just love Japanese food, with a passion. It’s a country that I should love to visit. But, until I do, I shall have to satisfy myself with Teppanyaki in Leeds, as well as the lovely Chinese dishes you can enjoy at Tattu. Both are superb.
Do you have a favourite food shop? My mum has virtually everything she needs – as far as food is concerned – delivered by the wonderful Tree Top Press, which you will find in Suffield, near Scarborough. It’s a farm shop. My mum
loves it, and so do I. The people are so friendly and knowledgeable.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it? We have to applaud the fact that we have risen to, and surmounted, some really grim problems in many creative ways, but there are still a lot of highly paternalistic attitudes and ways of doing business out there. We should be celebrating some amazing things, instead of fighting internal petty politics.
Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire? Miss Barbara Benson-Smith, who was my dancing teacher so many years ago, and who is still going strong at the age of 90. She has raised thousands of pounds over the years for all sorts of charities, and a recent fundraiser was to dance 90,000 steps to celebrate her landmark birthday. Which she did, with absolutely no problems. She is an inspirational force to be reckoned with.
Has Yorkshire influenced your work? Being in it, loving it (with all its faults) and existing in just a small part of the glorious landscape and the very fabric of the place, has to rub off on you, doesn’t it? It certainly works like that for me.
Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/ performer.?He arrived in Yorkshire from St Kitts at the age of four months, and grew up in Leeds, where he began his career as a playwright and novelist. He’s the amazing creative force that is Caryl Phillips, a man who is laden with awards, and who is currently teaching at Yale in the US as its Professor of English.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be? It would be a delight and an honour to take the stranger to the little community of Hackness, near Scarborough, where I will show them the site that was home to both a monastery and a nunnery, each established by the Venerable Bede. And then we will pause a while by the cell that was once a very sparse “home” to St Hilda. It’s a moving, mystical and magical place.
■ Clay Peat, Cage, a collaborative performance to camera series by Jade Montserrat and artist filmmakers Webb-Ellis, is on show at York
Art Gallery until February 13.
They put Euan Findlay in a barrel on his last day as an apprentice cooper. “It was like a washing machine,” he says, “but instead of getting clean, I was getting dirty.” His employers at Masham-based Theakston Brewery weren’t being unkind, but continuing a ceremony known as “trussing in”, a historic rite of passage thought to date back to the 14th century. That’s why Euan was doused in stagnant matter and rolled in a barrel around the brewery yard at Masham, the first such ceremony there in more than 20 years. “I knew it was coming from the day I started,” he says.
Euan had to help build his own barrel. “What happens is the largest cask size we make is a hogshead, 54 gallons,” he says. “The apprentice has to get all the staves ready for a hogshead, raise them up into a hoop so that they are stood up and splayed out.”
Four men, including Euan’s then boss, former cooper Johnathan Manby, steamed the cask for about 40 minutes, then put it onto the fire and started knocking down the hoops that hold the staves of oak in place.
Once the wood had started to bend, they flipped the partially made barrel and Euan climbed inside. “Once the cask was bent around me, they got buckets of rubbish, hops, and yeast and old beer, wood chips, and knocked that cask over and rolled me round a few times. After that they fired me, and I had to ask for my job back.”
The ceremony was watched by his family and friends, landlords, Theakston employees and others, including Ed Sheeran’s manager. “Just a bunch of random folk, I didn’t know half of them, but it was lovely to see my family and friends there.”
As a journeyman cooper, Euan joins a line stretching back nearly 200 years at one of only two breweries still to make traditional oak casks. As far as he knows, Euan was the only apprentice cooper in England while he was training. There are six coopers now in England, he thinks, but many more in Scotland for the whisky industry.
Funnily enough, Euan, 25, comes from the land of whisky as he was born in the town of Alexandria by Loch Lomond, outside of Glasgow. He still has the accent, even though he has spent far more time in Yorkshire now, although when he returns his friends think he’s as English as English can be.
Playing rugby led him to the job. He plays for Ripon and the team is sponsored by Theakston.
His coach asked him one day if he would like to be a cooper and in 2015 he stepped for the first time into the mystifying world of wood and