Exhibition celebrates work of Dales artist and historian

Artist Hester Cox.

A new exhibition celebrating the work of a Dales historian starts today at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

In the 1930s, the artist and historian Marie Hartley carved exquisite woodblocks to illustrate her now classic books on Wensleydale, Swaledale and Wharfedale.

Nearly 90 years on, Craven artist Hester Cox has reprinted the Marie Hartley engravings and created a collection of her own collagraph prints.

Her prints of birds, flowers and Dales scenes have been inspired by re-tracing and repeatedly running along the paths which Marie Hartley walked.

The two-year project has come together in Views from the Fells – In the footsteps of Marie Hartley, a special exhibition opening at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) in Hawes today.

Marie Hartley, who founded the DCM, was described as a ‘great’ alongside co-historians Ella Pontefract and Joan Ingilby in the latest edition of North Yorkshire County Council’s “Made in North Yorkshire” series.

Hester Cox, who lives in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, said: “Marie Hartley’s wood engraving blocks are beautiful little glimpses into the social, cultural and natural history of the Yorkshire Dales.

“It has been a privilege to print them.

“It has also been my dream job to follow in the footsteps taken by Marie Hartley and Ella Pontefract for their Wensleydale, Swaledale and Wharfedale books and create prints out of my observations and experiences.

“As a keen fell runner, I’m out in the hills at all times of the year and I cannot recall a time when I have felt more connected to a particular landscape.”

DCM manager Fiona Rosher said: “The Dales Countryside Museum has only recently re-opened after the Coronavirus lockdown and we are delighted to be welcoming people back by sharing this very special exhibition which has such deep rooted connections with our collections and the founder of the Museum itself.

“Hester was asked to make prints from the 127 unique wood engraving blocks bequeathed to the museum by Marie Hartley.

“It was thrilling seeing the prints being made by Hester. Each lift of the paper revealed the true intricacy of the blocks.

“Alongside the woodblock prints there is an extensive body of new work by Hester and I would warmly encourage people to come along to see it.  She has brought the Yorkshire Dales landscape inside.”

Views from the Fells will run until 9 November 2020. People looking to see the exhibition will need to book tickets in advance via the DCM website or by phoning 01969 666210.

The DCM has been asked to record visitor information to assist with the NHS Track and Trace process.