For over twenty years, Joe has lived and worked on the edge of the North York Moors. A favourite subject is the distinctive landmark of Roseberry Topping rising above the village of Great Ayton where a young James Cook went to school, before setting sail to discover the world.
While Captain Cook’s adventurous instincts led him to explore the islands of the Southern Hemisphere, Joe’s have seen him become intimately acquainted with the Moors and Yorkshire Dales. In addition to studying the topography and the natural beauty of North Yorkshire, Joe has also photographed extensively around the British Isles and overseas, on journeys which sometimes follow in the wake of Cook.
Joe’s work is informed by a commitment to nature, wild places and wilderness. “I am a strong advocate of environmental protection and believe landscape photography can play an important role, inspiring more benign and sustainable attitudes to land use and the natural world,” he states. His commitment is reflected in an ongoing working relationship with the National Trust of nearly thirty years. Through his work for the Trust, and for VisitBritain, his images have helped define the way the British landscape is seen by millions at home and abroad.
In 2008 Joe was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and he has been involved in a number of high profile roles. These have included the Distinction panels of the RPS, the judging team of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and as host of the Natural History Museum’s annual Understanding Photography events. Joe was recently named by Sony as one of their Global Imaging Ambassadors.
The gallery itself is located in the market town of Northallerton and sits equidistant between the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. It serves as the County town and administrative centre of North Yorkshire, situated at the northern end of the Vale of York not far from the A1 with good rail links to London and Edinburgh via the East Coast mainline.
Based in the town’s former ‘Register House’ and dating back to the eighteenth century, the gallery is filled with all the alcoves, nooks and crannies that you would expect of a building of the period. What makes the gallery so special is the way that Joe and the gallery staff have married the character of the building with a warm and welcoming feel and a desire to make the gallery and the art, which is set over two floors, as accessible as possible.
The gallery holds a permanent exhibition of Joe’s work as well as his print archive. After a long printing ‘apprenticeship’, Joe hand-prints these in his North Yorkshire home studio. They are printed from very high-resolution files on contemporary fine art matt papers of the highest quality before being mounted with conservation grade, acid-free board (and framed). The images come in varying degrees of limited edition and are priced accordingly. Many of his images also appear in his range of excellent books.
In addition to Joe's work, the gallery also exhibits work by other photographers, artists and craftspeople as well as hosting regular craft and photographic workshops and cultural events. A renowned thinker and commentator on photography, Joe is keen promote the cause of the community of nature photographers. To that end the galleries reflect a broad spectrum of different work through ‘tenant’ photographers and temporary exhibitions providing a shop window for new and upcoming talent.
The gallery’s standing as a destination as much as an exhibition space is complemented by a café serving locally sourced and freshly made food. The design of the gallery building creates intimate ‘snug’ areas that have been furnished with comfortable seats. Here customers can relax with coffee and cake from the café surrounded by stunning art. In the summer months a sunny courtyard furnished with tables and chairs boosts the space available for enjoying refreshments. A gallery shop selling prints, cards and work by local artists, designers and craftspeople completes the layout of the gallery building.
We have all encountered that special panoramic view whilst out in the countryside but find when we get home our photographs have not quite matched the reality. Thankfully Joe Cornish has the artistic talent, the photographic skill and the dedication to be in the right place at the right time to have recreated many of those beautiful landscapes for us. The Joe Cornish Gallery, a unique gem in the centre of Northallerton, provides no better setting in which to enjoy these wonderful memories.