Prior to its first performance on 2 August, The York Mystery Plays is displaying the original version of the plays’ artwork at the York Art Gallery from Monday 30 July.
Designed by York artist Johnny Smyth, the work will be displayed alongside ‘The Deposition and Rolling Away of the Stone’ by Stanley Spencer in the South Gallery. Spencer’s artistic vision, particularly his ability to blend the everyday with subtle religious symbolism, has been readily imbibed by the Plays’ creative team, starring as a source of inspiration for costume, set and stage design.
Curator of the York Art Gallery, Laura turner, commented that “Johnny’s painting is a fantastic piece of art in its own right and captures the atmosphere, scale and ambition of the 2012 plays” whilst “Spencer is famous for his religious symbolism… If you look closely at ‘The Deposition and Rolling Away of the Stone’ then you can see various subtle references within the work”.
Created on oil and wood, Smyth’s abstractions also draw on other artistic influences including Bruegel, Edward Burra and Salvador Dali. The piece will remain on show throughout the summer as more than 36,000 people experience the York Mystery Plays’ return to the Museum Gardens. It is the first time the plays have graced the grassy expanse of the gardens since 1988 and now, set against the breathtaking backdrop of St Mary’s abbey, this year’s cycle is set to be one of the most visually stunning of recent years.
To find out more about the plays please visit here.