“The Yorkshire tops can be bleak and that presents quite a challenge for the photographer,” said Cornish. “It’s not all flashing mountain tops as is often the case in Scotland, which I love by the way. Because of that, it’s a great practise ground for any landscape photographer meaning you have to work harder at finding its beauty. It’s not an obvious, superficial beauty, but having explored and increasingly understood this landscape through the years I have fallen in love with it.” Despite the county’s industrial past and its impact on the land, nature’s burgeoning fertility is on display everywhere, fuelled by the benign climate. “Now, especially when there is such concern about the future, I always feel that Yorkshire gives me a lot of hope because each year you go around the countryside and nature still seems to have the upper hand a lot of the time,” said Cornish. The same entrepreneurial spirit which gave rise to Yorkshire’s bygone industrial success is alive and well and was vital when Cornish was setting up his enterprises in Northallerton. “The county has a ‘get on and do things’ kind of attitude,” he said “This was a place where you felt you could do things and people would react positively and be supportive, which they absolutely are. ” Left: Ribblehead Viaduct is a remarkable monument of the Victorian era. Batty Moss over which it passes is also decorated with some of the finest examples of limestone pavement in the Dales. Below left: The gritstone towers of Wainstones is a notable landmark on the western edge of the North York Moors. Below right: Rievaulx Abbey is one the finest ruined medieval buildings in Europe.
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The cafe at Register House is the engine room of the gallery and provides a focal point. Visitors from abroad insist they’ve found the best coffee in the UK. Cafe staff bake every day and serve up fresh, local produce, including “amazing cakes” from an artisan specialist baker in Richmond. Run by a local daughter and mother team, the cafe helps to fund the gallery, which in 2020 will see shows by Mark Littlejohn, Take a View’s Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014, and a talk by the great American landscape photographer Charles Cramer. Musical events featuring young talent are also held in the first floor “long gallery”, with its new wooden floor providing superb acoustics. There’s a lot going on but the work remains the point. He recalls sound advice given to him in the early days by a veteran photographer: “You look after the work and the money will look after itself”. “I was out last night with my camera,” said Cornish, “photographing on the hills, with Roseberry there in the distance. There’s so much to celebrate and be proud of if you live in Yorkshire. I’m a bit zealous about it, maybe because I’m an incomer. I feel very grateful to live here.”