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Tuesday 1 December 2015

Solent lecturer holds solo exhibition in Yorkshire

Continuing his crusade for high streets with character, Southampton Solent University lecturer and renowned illustrator Jonny Hannah is celebrating the independent trader at a solo exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP).

Visitors are invited to take a stroll down Main Street in Jonny’s vintage-inspired homage to independent shops and stores. The exhibition runs at YSP, near Wakefield, from 14 November 2015 to 28 February 2016.

Speaking about the inspiration behind his latest exhibition, Jonny says: “Ever since moving to Southampton I have always lived in the Shirley area of the city. It used to have a selection of independent shops, including the toy exchange and the Shirley bookshop, but with high rent and the march of the pound shops, they’ve now all gone. My new exhibition is a minor protest against the homogenisation of our high streets, main streets and shopping parades.”

Lecturer Jonny Hannah at his YSP exhibition. Courtesy of YSP © Jonty Wilde

Helping visitors to navigate Main Street, Jonny’s traditional hand-painted signs are suspended above the YSP Centre concourse, where three pop-up shops have been put together entirely from the artist’s 2D and 3D artworks, all of which are available to buy. Visitors can natter with the owner of the Record Store and nip to junk shop The Hand and Heart to pick up anything your heart desires!

“Choice is good, but we’re being denied that by internet shopping,” says Jonny, “choice may seem aplenty – and you can buy any pair of shoes you wish, from New York or Eastleigh – but you don’t, or can’t know, how they feel or smell.”

The exhibition is a tribute to high streets of the past; lined with independent retailers stocking an assortment of curiosities, it features a collection of new linocuts, screen-prints, and painting.  Inspired by Jonny’s love of jazz music, the works are reminiscent of 1940s shop signs and concert posters.

Jonny Hannah’s exhibition at YSP. Courtesy of YSP © Jonty Wilde

“We forget how good Britain was at making home grown, lasting, affordable goods. Now we only have an all-too-uniform selection of goodies to buy. The present can be just as good as the past – and actually better if we are all prepared to buy something slightly more expensive; something that will last more than five minutes, and see us into the future.”

The exhibition also features Heavy Wool Products Come to McVouty’s – a limited edition screen-print printed at The Penfold Press in Selby, created exclusively for YSP – together with a small hand-painted and printed edition of unique wooden ukuleles.

Earlier this summer, Jonny created a stunning artwork that celebrated Wrexham’s cultural, industrial and agriculture past; and at the beginning of the year he worked with illustration students from Solent University to spruce up some city centre hoardings with images celebrating the city’s historic past.

Jonny Hannah’s exhibition at YSP. Courtesy of YSP © Jonty Wilde

Jonny Hannah’s exhibition at YSP. Courtesy of YSP © Jonty Wilde

The Southampton-based illustrator studied graphic arts and illustration at Liverpool Art School, and later illustration at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1998. When he is not lecturing on the BA (Hons) Illustration degree at Solent University, he works as a printmaker, creating screen-printed books, posters and prints for his own Cakes & Ale Press.

Hannah also works as a commercial illustrator for clients that include The Sunday Telegraph, The New York Times, the English National Opera and Penguin Books. He has worked with London-based animation company Sherbet on Charles Bukowski’s The Man with Beautiful Eyes, which won the Best Short Animation award at the 2000 BAFTA ceremony.