Art in lockdown - Art in Staithes

Staithes Staying Strong As A Haven For Artists

Staithes, on the North Yorkshire coast, has a long heritage of art, and as you wander amongst the traditional cottages down to the picture perfect harbour you can see why.

Even in 2020 art still plays a core role in the village. Kelly Herrick, a landscape artist who paints the region, explains how Staithes has continued to inspire artists and be a haven for art despite the pandemic.

From the turn of the 20th century The Staithes Group of Artists were drawn to the area to live and paint, growing to over 40 painters at the height of the group's success.

Their work captured the feel of the fishing village, North sea life and the working people. Nowadays, much of the village is given over to tourism but artists still flock to the area to paint and the village boasts two galleries and an arts & crafts centre.

Kelly sketching on the beach at Robin Hoods Bay

The lure of Staithes is such that even though the Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival has been cancelled this year, artists are still continuing to paint and exhibit work in the village. Kelly Herrick explains more, 'Staithes has a magic all of its own. You are on the wild North sea here, precariously perched on the cliffside and yet the harbour and the natural formation of the bay gives a sense of protection and safety. The beck with the lazily bobbing boats, the cottages that tumble down the hillside, the cliff views, they all make for an incredibly inspiring variety of subjects to paint.

'I was excited to be one of the festival artists this year, which would have seen around 100 artists across some 60 venues, but the world changed and understandably the event was held off until 2021. But Staithes has such a heritage of art, such a wealth of views, and so many visitors who love art that I had to carry on, it felt like an art mission! So, independently of the festival, I planned my own open studio event. There is an indomitable spirit of creativity to Staithes and I wasn’t going to let that falter on my watch. I love to bring my colourful, contemporary landscapes here to spread joy and inspiration.

'Villages like Staithes are doing their very best to manage tourism safely and encouraging visitors back is so important to the village’s survival. Running a safe, socially distanced open studio event is another art experience for visitors and helps build the legacy of art in Staithes for the future. I’m proud to be part of that.'

Staithes Harbour View by Kelly Herrick

Staithes Gallery owner, Allison Yates, discusses Staithes’ art scene from her perspective, 'We’ve been safely open since mid-June and we’ve had a very successful summer. I think this is due to two things, firstly, our artists have spent lockdown very creatively and produced fantastic new work. Secondly, buyers have spent so much time in their homes, improving them, decluttering and redecorating them, that they now want to reward themselves with beautiful, contemporary art and Staithes is the perfect place for that.'

Art has the power to uplift us all, and in times where stress levels are high and uncertainty has become the norm, it has never been more important. Artists continuing to exhibit are helping to elevate the people around them, locations that inspire are continuing to help artists interpret their world and visitors who support art are continuing to help us build a more creative and optimistic world. Staithes is just one example of a British village with art running through its veins but it is one we can all take great heart from.

Summer in Staithes by Kelly Herrick

To see more of Kelly’s Yorkshire paintings visit