The Lumber Room : Unimagined Treasures

A third gallery space on the first floor of York City Art Gallery is given over to the Artist in Residence. The first artist appointed to this task at the newly reopened Gallery is Mark Hearld and I really loved his choice of topic.

LR sign

As it happens I’ve just started to clear the loft and found lots of ‘stuff’ but nothing in the way of treasure! Given free range behind the scenes at the Gallery Mark Hearld has based his premise on Saki’s short story “The Lumber Room“. When I got home that evening I dug out my copy of The Penguin Complete Saki and read the story. It’s just over 3 pages long “the hero, Nicholas, conspires to unlock ‘the mysteries’ held in a room ‘secure from unauthorised intrusion’ “.

MH POster

Mark Hearld goes on to say “Read to me by teacher, Mr Beecroft, at school, I was captivated by the story then as I am now. I savoured Saki’s visual descriptions and could entirely connect with the young boy Nicholas’s aesthetic reverie.

‘It came up to his expectation. In the first place it was large and dimly lit … in the second place it was a storehouse of unimagined treasures’

The Lumber Room provides the perfect title and narrative for my exhibition. Saki has already captured it; here are ‘wonderful things for the eye to feast on’. The display includes a range of spectacularly miscellaneous pictures and objects carefully selected from the stores of York Art Gallery, the Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum, many of which have not been on display for some time. [I’m reminded of Grayson Perry‘s forays behind the scenes at the British Museum]

An outsized Staffordshire jug; dappled horses from a disbanded carousel; a corn merchant’s sign; English Delft plates; a flight of Victorian capes and resplendent military jackets all bring form and colour to the space. Animals, always a love of mine, abound. The painting Falcon by an Unknown Artist dating from 1677, a fragment of a much larger canvas is as beautiful as it is enigmatic. A shoal of river fish, caught at the turn of the century and a golden seahorse are among the treasures.

Works made by me on paper; pot and paint respond to the collection and celebrate its richness and the delight to be had in looking at it.”

Mark Hearld


carousel horses

tea coffee pots

shop display case

Horses and Tankards on Original Shop Fitting

sea horse

The Golden Sea Horse

seahorse sign

portraits and cloaks

Spanish Capes and 17th Century Portraits

painted plates

Plates and Ceremonial Army Jackets


Falcon in a Gloved Hand, 1677 inspired the poster above created by Mark Hearld

lady w parrot

See more of Hearld’s work and hear him talking about his inspirations :



10 comments on “The Lumber Room : Unimagined Treasures

  1. Fascinating. I love Mark Hearld’s designs. It must be so great to see one of your designs covering a chair! His work does go so well with the mid-20th C palette. Thanks again.

  2. nilly says:

    I’m a big fan of Mark Hearld’s designs too – and his taste in British folk art. We see him most weeks at York Racecourse Car Boot, hunting for more inspirational pieces. And did you know he has a Roman skeleton and sarcophagus in his cellar? Sometimes these come with properties in central York!

  3. I’d really like to see this, it looks fantastic – thank you for sharing.

  4. sherry says:

    What a fun exhibition! I became acquainted with him via St Jude’s, I’m an Angie Lewin fan.

  5. Fran says:

    Mark Hearld had a small display of some of his animal toys and objects last time I was at Ditchling Museum; certainly a collector! What a wonderful display in York.
    On my shelves I have my father’s copy of Saki stories. Must go and dig it out!

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