Galleries of Inspiration

Steve Jack, 19 January, 2018
Steve Jack spent a very enjoyable – and inspiring – afternoon in Northallerton, for the opening of Inntravel's Slow Moments photography exhibition.

It’s always a pleasure to hop on the train from my home in York to visit the Joe Cornish Galleries in Northallerton. And it was a particular privilege to be able to attend the launch of Inntravel's Slow Moments photography exhibition, as I did just the other day.

Showcasing the best of the entries from the photo competition, this exhibition – now in its third year – not only offers a wonderful temporary home to these inspiring images, but also provides a great opportunity for keen photographers, gallery regulars and Inntravel customers alike to mingle.

Upon entering the venerable, 18th-century Register House on Zetland Street (just off Northallerton’s bustling high street), I immediately feel as though I’m somewhere special. This building’s labyrinthine corridors, landings and alcoves – connecting galleries of various shapes and sizes – always present the visitor with new discoveries, and invite those with an eye for originality to linger longer, and embrace their inner Slow.

From the inviting little café on the ground floor, to some special pictures by Joe Cornish himself (often inscribed with his own whimsical annotations), and up the grand, picture-filled staircase (itself an invitation to pause), I headed to the three galleries on the first-floor landing. It was in one of these that Inntravel's small-but-perfectly-formed exhibition of 15 photographs had been housed, and expertly ‘hung’ by the gallery staff.

With a glass of wine in hand as they admired the images, the visitors swelled to a modest multitude, filling the space with animated chatter of favourite photographic locations, holidays past and dreams of future travel, and perhaps also the odd aside about focal length or filters. But, for the most part, it was simply a chance to chat and mingle in good company, and to appreciate the power of the Slow Moment, as ably exemplified by the excellent pictures on display.

One of the afternoon’s highlights was getting the opportunity to hear from the winner himself, David Pechey, who had journeyed across the Pennines for the day with his wife, Christine. He modestly and engagingly described the somewhat fortuitous events that led to him being able to capture – and subsequently submit – the image (‘Bus Queue’, taken in Galle, Sri Lanka) that had won the overall prize. This was a remarkable tale of making one’s own luck, and of ‘being in the right place at the right time’ – one that struck a chord with us all, even those with considerably less photographic expertise than David.

And then, all too soon, it was over: our throng dispersed into all the galleries’ diverse corners, and thence into the gathering gloom outside. But the exhibition itself continues, beautifully lit and open for a month until mid-February, so do get there if you can, or pay a visit at any time of year if you wish to be inspired.

For me, though, this was also a chance to explore. Whenever I’m in Northallerton, I try to take the opportunity to discover a little more of this underrated North Yorkshire market town. With stalls lining the broad High Street on Saturdays, and a low-key – yet vibrant – atmosphere (even on a cold January afternoon), it’s a fine place to while away an hour or so. And, in addition to the Galleries, one place I love to seek out is the renowned food store, Lewis & Cooper. This Aladdin’s cave is a treasure trove of comestible delight, and once you’ve been drawn inexorably into its depths, and have witnessed the cornucopia of foodie treats on the deli counter at the back, you might start to wonder whether you’ll ever escape.

But emerge I did, and, laden with a few impulse buys and some treats for dinner, I made my way back to the railway station, warmed by an afternoon well spent, and full of Slow Moments’ inspiration for my journey back to York.

Further information

Joe Cornish Galleries
If you find yourself in North Yorkshire (or are lucky enough to be a local), then the Joe Cornish Galleries in the heart of the elegant market town of Northallerton are well worth a visit.
More about the Joe Cornish Galleries >

Slow Moments
Our photography competition has enabled many people – from right across the globe – to share the ‘moments that matter’ to them while travelling, or simply from around the area where they live.
More about Slow Moments >
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