infants uggs According to York gallery owner Mrs Ails McGee
She laughs in a dismissive way. Her voice is caricature Scottish, strong and spliced with Borders vernacular. She was born in Kelso and moved south to study art at the University of Leeds outpost at Bretton Hall (now home to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park). She trained as a teacher and taught art at Huntington School in York, where she met Greg, who was teaching English.
Running an art gallery had always been her dream, so she gave up her teaching career to pursue it, opening in Tower Street in 2004.
She says: “I have three children. My business is celebrating its 11th anniversary. The fact that I’ve managed to successfully spin both plates, and love it, without a wobble is a great source of pride for me.
“I have a healthy work ethic, and having children has really strengthened that. The trick for me is not to compartmentalise my work and my family life. They very much overlap. The biggest boost my business acumen has received is the focus that comes accompanied with running a family.”
The children are a fixture at the gallery. “The children love drawing and colouring and love being in that environment.” The children help out with little jobs and Ails says it is good training for the future. She openly says she doesn’t mind if they don’t go to university, stating that business is a great substitute.
“They feel like they are little gallerists themselves. Niall said how he would open an According To McGee ice cream parlour, but there would be paintings of ice cream on the wall too. They could do the same with fashion, photography whatever they wanted.”
Encouraging young people to find their talent is important to the McGees. They believe art gives young people an edge in today’s hugely competitive world.
Ails said: “It gives them that extra confidence to see things differently. So many kids just play computer games.
“Art opens so many doors in the creative industries, but even kids that are going to become doctors do art because it opens up something different in your mind. Lots of industries are looking for creative people.”
The couple run popular art camps for children in the school holidays and have set up a charity, New Visuality, working with young artists and disadvantaged groups in York.
In a publicity coup for the gallery, Ian Botham will launch their summer exhibition New You, YOU York, by Dubai based artist Jim Wheat of Dollars and Art. The July exhibition is in aid of supporting New Visuality. Indeed, Wheat’s art will be integrated with work from the charity’s outreach projects and proceeds from all sales will go back to the charity.
In the meantime, the focus at According to McGee is on local talent. Yorkshire ReMastered ’15 opened at the weekend and shows the work of two York artists: Richard Barnes and Myles Linley.
Ails says: “Yorkshire and summer get on very well together. There’s something about visiting the ancient cities and landmarks that feel cinematic and inspiring, but there’s also the contemporary energy, that’s often in danger of being overlooked.
“In that sense, both our exhibiting artists are perfect for our gallery. They have just enough reverence for Yorkshire’s fossilised beauty while leaving themselves enough wriggle room to rejuvenate the architecture, the landscape, and the atmosphere.
“Their cityscapes especially work well together, and it’s great to see their work brought together for the first time in a white cube gallery.
“They’re yet another reminder of just how cool a city like York is, as well as its surrounding area, and it’s not just about churches, pots of tea and Vikings.