Christmas at Castle Howard turns into masquerade as the carnival takes over

The tree in the Garden Hall, part of Castle Howard At Christmas: A Christmas Masquerade. All pictures: Charlotte Graham

THE decorative Christmas displays at Castle Howard, near York, are the most theatrical yet.

Running until January 5 2020, A Christmas Masquerade has taken over every public room in the historic Yorkshire house for this themed event.

Each one is dressed in ornate and elaborate feathers, sequins, baubles and twinkling lights as visitors join the Howard family in their preparations for a Venetian-themed Christmas Carnival, complete with masquerade ball and entertainment from Harlequin, Pierrot, Colombine and Puchinello, all  part of the Commedia dell’arte troupe.

Producer Charlotte Lloyd Webber and theatrical designer Bretta Gerecke once again have led the team of set dressers, florists, baublographers, artists and seamstresses to create the immersive masquerade experience.

 “Castle Howard is a house that was built with a sense of theatre and extravagance inspired by Venetian design – Vanbrugh was both an architect and a playwright – and at a time of year when glittering opulence makes its way into almost every home, we couldn’t think of a better opportunity to explore a tradition enjoyed by generations of the Howard family: the masquerade ball,” says Charlotte.

Lady Georgina’s dressing room, themed around clown Puchinello at Castle Howard

“Many of the themes, colours and styles that we have used to recreate a Venetian masquerade ball fit perfectly within the theatrical grandeur of each room.”

The experience opens with the grand staircase in the main hall, setting the scene for the lavish displays that follow.  Using the Venetian palate, the staircase is lavishly decorated with sapphire blue, magenta, purple and gold. 

At the top of the stairs, visitors gain a taste of the entertainment for the forthcoming ball:  multicoloured Harlequins, one of the characters in the Commedia dell’arte, the troupe of wandering artists that delighted 17th and 18th century audiences with a mix of pathos, romance and slapstick.

On the China Landing, an estate-cut twig tree has been painted in the Harlequin colours and hung with a plethora of ornaments following the Venetian theme, while two masks give a further hint of the ball’s lavish theme.

The following suite of four rooms highlights the four key characters for the Commedia dell’arte  visiting Castle Howard over the Christmas period.  Lady Georgiana’s bedroom is handed over to Colombine, a character who started life in the troupe as an elegant dancer, before joining the “Zannis” and becoming partner to both Harlequin and Pierrot. 

The Hon Nicholas Howard and Victoria Howard in the Turquoise Room, decorated entirely in scarlet

Pinks, golds and silvers fill the room to reflect the custom-made Colombine ballgown on display in the room, as if the mistress of the house were preparing her own costume for the ball.  The room also hosts the first of a special collection of masks, hand-created by Venetian master craftsmen for Christmas at Castle Howard: the Rosetta Mask.

The adjacent dressing room is a huge contrast, to reflect the first of the troupe’s clowns,  Puchinello, leader of the Zannis and inspiration for the modern English use of the word “zany”. This wacky room features an upside-down white Christmas tree, with a circus fairground feel.  The very British Punch and Judy explode out of a present in a nod to the seaside tradition that has its origins in these Venetian artists.

A popular contemporary vision of clown Pierrot finds him sitting in a moon, and this provides inspiration for the Castle Howard dressing room: a dreamlike and tranquil space decorated with a starry ceiling, gold, silver, black and white, with the character himself in a familiar pose at the back of the room.

Harlequin’s bedroom is one of the most lavish in the house: red, gold and green with a beautifully decorated tree, atop which sits another ornate Venetian mask.  This is the space where the Master of the House will prepare for the ball, his Harlequin costume awaiting on a mannequin.

The rich, bright colours of the theme inspired the Antiques Passage, an explosion of colour featuring a jewellery box of hues and shades presented through exotic birds and butterflies.

The 26ft Christmas tree in the Great Hall of Castle Howard, decorated with 3,500 baubles

The Castle Howard tradition of the enormous Christmas tree continues in the Great Hall, where a remarkable 26ft real tree is installed and covered with 3,500 baubles.  “As far as we’ve been able to tell, this is the largest Christmas tree in a stately home in the country,” says Abbigail. “It’s certainly several feet bigger than the trees in Buckingham Palace.”

However, the Masquerade theme is still very evident in the room; the view up to the balcony features acrobats on the handrail with a monochrome and a colourful Harlequin balancing there.

The influence of the Commedia dell’arte becomes even more prominent in the three rooms on the first floor that show the theatrical experience of masquerade and pantomime from both backstage and audience perspectives.  The display includes historic items from Castle Howard’s collections, featuring dresses, masques and fans that would have been worn and used by ancestors of the present custodian, the Hon. Nicholas Howard. 

On  display too are wigs, make-up and other accoutrements that would have helped the actors’ preparations for the stage.  The centrepiece of the High South is a life-size “paper theatre”, inspired by Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop, which uses the architectural features of Castle Howard in a colourful pantomime display.

Returning to the ground floor, visitors will have another behind-the-scenes peek in the room dedicated to the ruler of Venice.  The new library includes the Doge Tree, dedicated to the “Duke” of Venice ­– or in Castle Howard’s case, the master of the house – and laden with opulent Venetian glass ornaments and fabrics, with books on display all about the Venetian masquerade – essential for planning any authentic ball.

All set for Christmas at Castle Howard

The Garden Hall’s traditional bare twig tree returns, but this year features candle-lit decorations of brightly coloured Venetian Glass to create a kaleidoscope effect in the room.

A special model of Castle Howard created last year by artist Mark Bond returns to the Cabinet Room, now joined by a new model showing the exterior landscape down the Lime Avenue.  Tiny depictions of actors and their supporting crew from the Commedia dell’arte can be seen making their way with horses and carts on their way to the house in this tiny display, while ladies in their ballgowns can be found on the North Front of the main model, arriving for the ball to entertainment from a miniature Punch and Judy show.

In the music room, one of the paintings almost comes alive, as characters step out of Marco Ricci’s The Opera Rehearsal and don costumes ready for the ball.

The Crimson Dining Room is a glittering Venetian feast, the table set with a centrepiece of lions and exotic monkeys.  As Charlotte Lloyd Webber explains: “We have tried to amplify and reveal aspects of the house that you may not have noticed with the designs. A painting of the Grand Canal in the Crimson Dining Room, for example, is reflected in the gondola-themed decorations in the room.”

Crimson turns to scarlet for the drawing room – the only colour used in here – with two mannequins wearing bespoke garments created for the room and a Venetian Fraudis Jolly, a masquerade mask made of playing cards.

The China Landing at Castle Howard

Resuming the figurative flow of the water in the dining room picture, the Long Gallery –the epicentre and pinnacle of each year’s Christmas designs – recreates the glittering waterway as the setting for the Venetian Carnival that has been teased throughout the house. 

Visitors join the guests at the waterside Ball, its setting drawn from the imagination of Brette Gerecke, using artistic skills and set-dressing normally seen from afar on the theatrical stage. The “canal” itself is made from nearly 250 metres  of moulded aluminium foil, on which 4,300 customised iridescent sequins have been painstakingly glued in a task that took three people four days to complete.  

At the heart of the Long Gallery is a three-metre-wide suspended revolving Harlequin mask, one side multicoloured, the other covered in sequins of gold, silver and bronze.  One of the windows at the octagonal centre of the gallery has been replaced with a stained-glass window to shine coloured diamonds all over the space, even on darker winter days, when an artificial light provides the illumination!

A mask in the Crimson Dining Room at Castle Howard for Christmas

Leaving the Long Gallery, visitors descend to the chapel, which this year has been dressed by Slingsby School working with Castle Howard’s charity of the year, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.  Alongside a traditional Nativity scene, children have created animal-themed decorations with hand-written eco-wishes.  Visitors are invited to swap real coins for chocolate ones in a donation box, with proceeds going to the charity.

Each weekend during the Christmas opening until January 5, those visiting will be joined by members of the Commedia dell’arte troupe for live entertainment around the house, while soundscapes and music arranged by the Hon. Nicholas Howard provide an additional sensory appeal to the proceedings.

Head of marketing Abbigail Ollive says: “Christmas at Castle Howard is an experience never to be forgotten, with many people returning year after year to get their festive ‘fix’, whether to take inspiration back for their own home designs, or simply just to marvel at how an already beautiful property can be transformed into this magical place – a veritable festive film set that you can walk through and admire!

“Each year’s designs are totally different, and the jewel-like sapphire blues, ruby reds and golden amber bring a whole new colour palette to this winter’s displays.”

Castle Howard: A Christmas Masquerade runs until Sunday, January 5 2020, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets are on sale at

Charles Hutchinson

Katharina Klug sends her ceramic vessels into space at Lotte Inch Gallery

Katharina Klug at work on the wheel at her Cambridge studio. All pictures: Zuza Grubeska

THE Space In Between is filling Lotte Inch Gallery, in Bootham, York, with a sophisticated exhibition of monochrome porcelain vessels by Cambridge ceramicist Katharina Klug until Christmas Eve.

“This show plays with juxtaposing shapes, form and line and places these individual parts within the context of a larger installation work,” says Lotte. “It’s a show too that sees the boundaries between craftsmanship and artistic expression grow hazy.”

Known for her manipulation of graphic lines painstakingly hand drawn on to the surfaces of her fine porcelain vessels, Katharina’s body of work explores the spaces that lie between lines and objects as she moves her artistic practice towards something almost more sculptural, omitting certain elements to create new ones.

“The identifiably Katharina colour pallet and beautifully realised vessels remain simultaneously of themselves, and of something bigger, more powerful,” suggests Lotte.

Katharina Klug with one of her porcelain vessel groupings

Discussing The Space In Between, Katharina says: “This show, for me, is a further step into more installation-based work. I enjoy the challenge of a narrative-driven context.”

She asked herself: “What lies in between? What can you see only because you can’t see another? Can leaving things out, draw others? All these questions started me off on to this body of work. I’m delighted to have the chance to show it in its entirety at Lotte Inch Gallery in York.”

Katharina continues: “In the last few years, my work has become more about vessel groupings and ideas that involve more than the one individual pot. It’s almost like creating a larger canvas that’s split into several vessels.

“The monochrome works are an accumulation of vessels which together build up installations that let the viewer see them together as one piece.

“There are so many examples of collectives in the natural world that morph into new manifestations. The idea of many forming one keeps feeding my interest in making these pieces.” 

Katharina Klug working out “the space in between” her ceramic pieces

Katharina particularly enjoys how “the placing of the individual vessel creates a new composition with new views”. “Depending on the space, the pieces can be arranged to suit the environment but also to create a new dialogue in between,” she explains.

“I’m hoping the pieces get played and experimented with, to find new things beyond what I had imagined.” 

Katharina lives and works in Cambridge after moving to Britain from her native Austria in 2009. All her pots are made by hand on the wheel with pastels used to draw naïve, spontaneous patterns on to their surface: “the perfect canvas to explore space,” she says.

Her work has been shown in galleries around the country and beyond and is held in many private collections, and collaborations have involved her working with Heal’s, the British furniture and furnishing store chain.

Recognition has come with the silver award in 2013 and 2015 in Craft and Design Magazine’s ceramics category; a shortlisting for the International Nasser Sparkasse Ceramics Prize in Westerwald, Germany, and an honourable mention for two entries in the International Ceramic Festival in Japan in  2017. She has been a selected member of the Craft Potters Association since 2016 too.

Lotte Inch Gallery, on the first floor at 14, Bootham, York, is open on Thursdays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm; otherwise by appointment on 01904 848660.

Charles Hutchinson

Cats make for the purrfect Christmas present at Kentmere House Gallery

Can They Be Mine?, oil on board, by Susan Bower

KENTMERE House Gallery, in Scarcroft Hill, York, will be open every weekend until December 22, complemented by late-night openings on Thursdays.

“Those who have everything may be the bane of your life, but you can be absolutely certain that they don’t have any of the paintings available from this gallery because all are originals,” says owner and curator Ann Petherick.

“We have the usual Christmas Aladdin’s cave to rummage around in, with a price range from £50 to £2,500, plus books from £10.

Bertie, watercolour, by Frances Brock

“There’s a slight emphasis on cats in this year’s collection – anticipating the imminent arrival of the film musical, perhaps?! – including Susan Bower’s Can They Be Mine?, a watercolour by York artist Frances Brock and a delightful linocut by Norfolk artist Hannah Hann, discovered in a small gallery in Norfolk.”

On display too is new work by Kentmere House favourites such as John Thornton, Rosie Dean and David Greenwood, along with work from nationally known printmakers Valerie Thornton, John Brunsdon and Richard Bawden.   

“And if it’s all too difficult, there’s the gallery’s gift voucher service, allowing the recipients themselves to make the choice and with the gallery adding five per cent to the value of any voucher,” says Ann.  

Two Cats On A Rug, linocut, by Hannah Hann

“Alternatively, if you buy a painting as a gift and the recipient would prefer another, return it by the end of January and a full credit will be given against another painting.”

Kentmere House Gallery can be visited each Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm, plus Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm. “You are also welcome at any other timeswith a telephone call in advance to check on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 – or just ring the bell.”

The gallery will re-open after the Christmas break on Saturday, January 4.

York Minster From Dean’s Park, pastel, by David Greenwood

Yorkshire Shepherdess’s happy Christmas is on the cards for air ambulance charity

The Yorkshire Shepherdess Gathering Her Animals And Children In Time For Christmas: Anita Bowerman’s new charity Christmas card for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

YORKSHIRE Air Ambulance ambassador Amanda Owen and her farming family feature in a new charity Christmas card painted by Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman.

Owen, alias The Yorkshire Shepherdess, is at present drawing more than 1.5 million viewers to the second series of her Channel 5 documentary Our Yorkshire Farm on Tuesday nights.

She was first the focus of a Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) charity card last year, showing Amanda surrounded by her beloved sheep and dogs on a harsh winter’s day.

Crimson Glory Vine (Vitis Coignetiae) at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, one of Anita Bowerman’s 12 paintings from her artist-in-residence year

Painted by Anita, it became the charity’s best-seller, with cards flying off around the world.

This year’s card for the YAA already is proving more popular than ever and once more all the proceeds will go to the charity.

Harrogate artist Anita Bowerman painting Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess, at her moorland farm for last year’s Yorkshire Air Ambulance Christmas card

“I’m absolutely delighted to feature again on the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Christmas cards,” says Amanda. “Anita Bowerman is a fantastically skilled artist who has a unique ability to depict children and animals in wonderfully intricate detail. 

“I’m hopeful that these cards will go worldwide and raise much-needed funds for this incredible charity. 100 per cent profit goes to the YAA.”

Amanda, hill farmer, mother of nine, photographer, public speaker and author, lives with husband Clive and their family at Ravenseat in Upper Swaledale, North Yorkshire, one of the highest, most remote hill farms in England.

Maytenus Boaria Tree at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, September, by Anita Bowerman

She has always supported the work of the YAA, given the remote area where they live and the nature of the charity’s work, but it was an introduction through Anita that brought Amanda and the charity closer together.

“I was contacted by Anita last year to ask if I’d be happy to collaborate with her and the YAA by painting me and my sheep as a scene for one of their Christmas cards,” says Amanda.

Travelling Home For Christmas:, one of Anita Bowerman’s Christmas card designs for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

“Obviously it was a real honour for me to accept, and the card went on to be the Charity’s best-selling Christmas card.

“I hear they were sending them out all around the world, and as far away as Canada. We have kept in contact since and when I was asked to be an ambassador, I was absolutely delighted. I genuinely couldn’t think of a better organisation to be involved with.  I was very emotional when they first asked me.”

The Winter Walk At RHS Garden, Harlow Carr, December, by Anita Bowerman

Amanda adds: “I’m aware that living as remotely as we do, the YAA is a vital service that can make the difference between life and death. We have had our fair share of medical emergencies, though we’re fortunate to have never yet ourselves required the services of the YAA.”

Painting Amanda and her family and animals is always such a joy for Anita. “In the card you can see Amanda with some of her children, sheepdogs, a robin, Tony the Pony, an owl, a robin and much more,” she says.

“The holly hanging above them is kept in this ancient barn all year. The original painting can be seen in my Dove Tree gallery and studio in Harrogate.

The Snow Lays Deep And Crisp And Even: Anita Bowerman’s third design for her 2019 Christmas cards for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

“It’s a privilege to be able to support the vital work of the YAA through the sale of these cards, and having Amanda as an ambassador is a bonus.” 

Priced at £4 for ten cards, they are available at or from Anita’s gallery in Back Granville Road, Harrogate. (Visit for location details and opening times.)

Anita has illustrated two more cards for the YAA this Christmas: Ribblehead Viaduct and Malham Cove. Meanwhile, copies of last year’s card are still available at

The Tarn At RHS Garden Harlow Carr, November, by Anita Bowerman

If you are seeking Christmas presents or cards, Anita will be hosting champagne and canapes events to mark the eighth anniversary of her gallery on December 5 from 6pm to 8pm and December 7, 10am to 3.30pm.

“I’m also artist-in-residence this year at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, in Harrogate, where I’ll be appearing in the shop there every Saturday, from 4pm to 8pm, during Harlow Carr’s Glow winter illuminations until Christmas,” says Anita, who will be doing mini-demonstrations and chatting to visitors.

Glow: the winter illuminations at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate, pictured in November 2017

“I’ve finished all 12 paintings of the gardens, one for each month, all made using moss, twigs and leaves, and now have my prints and cards in the shop.”

The Glow winter illuminations at Harlow Carr light up the gardens after dusk every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until December 28, from 4.30pm to 8pm, except on Boxing Day, with last admission at 7pm.

On those days, special lighting effects transform Streamside, the Queen Mother’s Lake, Winter Walk, the Doric Columns and Alpine House.

New for this year, as part of the Glow adventure, you can enjoy illuminated sculptures, such as a silver angel; meander through a tunnel of twinkling lights as you enter the Kitchen Garden, and finish the trail at a festive-themed marquee with Christmas carols.

Glow tickets can be booked at

Did you know?

Yorkshire Air Ambulance serves five million people across Yorkshire, carrying out more than 1,500 missions every year. The charity operates two state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopters and needs to raise £12,000 every day to keep saving lives.

Charles Hutchinson

Chris Gorman’s film footage of Anita Bowerman at work at RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, during her year as artist-in-residence.

White Cube’s Harland Miller comes home for biggest solo show at York Art Gallery

York, So Good They Named It Once, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2009, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (Stephen White)

YORK artist and writer Harland Miller’s largest ever solo exhibition will be held in his home city next year.

Harland Miller: York, So Good They Named It Once will run at York Art Gallery from February 14 to May 31 2020.

Supported by fellow North Yorkshireman Jay Jopling’s White Cube galleries in London, the show features Miller’s best-known series, the Penguin Book Covers and the Pelican Bad Weather Paintings.

These works directly refer to the 55-year-old artist’s relationship with York, the city where he was born and grew up before moving to London, as well as making wider references to the culture and geography of Yorkshire as a whole.

Death, What’s in it For Me?, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2007, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (Stephen White)

The titles are all sardonic statements on life: York, So Good They Named It; Once Whitby – The Self Catering Years; Rags to Polyester – My Story and Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore.

In addition to these dust-jacket paintings, Miller will show works from his recent Letter Painting series: canvasses made up of overlaid letters to form short words or acronyms in a format inspired by the illuminated letters of medieval manuscripts.

Miller left Yorkshire to study at Chelsea School of Art, graduating in 1988 with an MA, since when he has lived in London, New York, Berlin and New Orleans.

He has held solo exhibitions at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, in 2009 and Palacio Quintanar, Segovia, Spain, in 2015. Group exhibitions include the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1996; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany, 2004; Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005, 2006 and 2007; Sculpture in the Close, Jesus College, Cambridge, 2013, and Somerset House, London, 2016.

In 2008, Miller curated the group show You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil, an homage to Edgar Allan Poe to mark the bicentenary of his birth, at White Cube and Shoreditch Town Hall, London.

Ace, by Harland Miller, oil on canvas, 2017, copyright Harland Miller, Photo copyright: White Cube (George Darrell)

His first novel, Slow Down Arthur, Stick To Thirty, the story of a child who travels around northern England with a David Bowie impersonator, was published by Fourth Estate in 2000.

That same year, Book Works published his novella, At First I Was Afraid, a study of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, based on the true story of a female relative, whose box of Polaroid images, all of oven knobs turned to “Off”, was discovered by Miller.

In his artwork, he continues to create work in the vein of his Penguin covers, wherein he married aspects of Pop Art, abstraction and figurative painting with his writer’s love of text. He now includes his own phrases, some humorous and absurd, others marked by a lush melancholia.

Charles Hutchinson

Sarah Garforth’s Nidderdale and coastal paintings to go on show at Village Gallery

Low Tide, Sandsend, by Sarah Garforth

SARAH Garforth’s exhibition of Upper Nidderdale and coastal scenes will open at Village Gallery, Colliergate, York, on December 3.

Wanderings is a new body of work focusing on the North Yorkshire reservoirs around Sarah’s home and favourite locations on the East Coast.

Sarah, a keen walker, works in a traditional way, collecting sketches out in the field and developing her ideas once back in the studio.

Last Light, Gouthwaite Reservoir, by Sarah Garforth

“Her aim with this new work is to try to bridge the gap between spontaneity and over-thought contrived work,” says Village Gallery owner Simon Main.

“By continuing to play with ideas, pieces can evolve, rather than have pre-determined elements.”

Sarah has introduced mixed media into the oils, using cold wax, marble dust, pigment sticks and gambasol, applied with spatulas, scrapers and knives, but no brush at all.

Huts At Boulmer, by Sarah Garforth

“By working in layers, it has allowed her to scrape and draw back into the paint, reconnecting to the original image,” says Simon.

A preview evening will be held on Monday, December 2, when Sarah will be on hand to discuss her work. Tickets are available from Simon at the gallery.

“Aside from our regularly changing art exhibitions, we are York’s official stockist of Lalique glass and crystal,” says Simon.

“We also sell a selection of art, craft, ceramics, glass, sculpture and jewellery, much of it being the work of local artists­ – and with Christmas around the corner, there’s lots to choose from.”

Sarah Garforth’s Wanderings will be on show until January 11 2020. Village Gallery’s opening hours are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Lots and lots and lots of potty things to do at York Art Gallery

Alison Britton: giving the Annual CoCA Lecture this evening

THE Centre of Ceramic Art’s annual Day of Clay is expanding into two Days of Clay this weekend at York Art Gallery.

The event involves hands-on activities, talks and workshops by experts and the launch of Gillian Lowndes’ exhibition, At The Edge.

CoCA’s Days of Clay offers the chance to watch, make and hear about the art of clay from leading figures from the world of ceramics, including working with animal sculptor Susan Hall and participating in performances from Milena Dragic and Mila Romans, while David Horbury will discuss Emmanuel Cooper’s memoirs.

This evening’s CoCA lecture will be given by potter Alison Britton OBE on the subject of being part of the emergence of a radical abstract expressionist style of ceramic work. 

The Days of Clay coincide with the opening of a display of works by Gillian Lowndes, the most radical ceramicist of the 20th century.   

Fiona Green, assistant curator at York Art Gallery, says: “This year we have extended our popular day event to a whole weekend, with fantastic opportunities to celebrate, discuss and work with clay.

“We have some incredible experts involved, who are looking forward to discussing their work and sharing experiences and techniques with visitors, and there are plenty of opportunities to get hands-on and have a go yourself.

“Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to join other experts, enthusiasts and novices who all share an appreciation of clay.”

All activities are included in admission to York Art Gallery with the exception of the CoCA Lecture. Visit for more details and tickets.

Days of Clay is being held in conjunction with York Ceramics Fair 2019, running concurrently at the Hospitium, York Museum Gardens, with support from the Craft Potters Association.

Tickets to York Ceramics Fair are on sale at; tickets to York Art Gallery can be bought at a reduced rate if you hold a York Ceramics Fair ticket.

Days of Clay full programme

Saturday, November 23

10.30am to 4.30pm: Artist Susan Halls in the Studio.

Come and help fill part of the gallery with a crowd of watchful clay rabbits. Animal sculptor Susan Halls will be running a hands-on workshop showing you a quick and effective way to make a hollow rabbit that will form part of her Meadow installation.

Annual CoCA Lecture 2019: Alison Britton OBE, lecture at 6pm; Q&A, 6.45pm; drinks in Gillian Lowndes exhibition, 7pm; close, 8pm.

Alison Britton was part of a group of radical women artists graduating from the Royal College of Art’s ceramics course in the early 1970s.

In 1993, Britton co-curated The Raw And The Cooked with Martina Margetts, at the Barbican and Modern Art Oxford, which then toured in East Asia and Europe.

In her lecture, Britton will reflect on this exhibition and on being part of an emergence of a radical abstract expressionist style of ceramic work.

Sunday, November 24

In the CoCA 1 gallery:

1pm to 3pm, Clay Participatory Performance.

Joinperformers Milena Dragic and Mila Romans as “artist” and “clay” as they sculpt out clay movements and then invite you to participate in making, looking and moving clay to become part of the performance.

3.30pm to 4.30pm, Talk: Making Emmanuel Cooper.

David Horbury discusses how editing Emmanuel Cooper’s memoirs has provided fresh insights into his pots and practice. David’s book on Emmanuel will be on sale in the shop and he will be available to sign them.

In the Studio: 

11.30am to 12.30pm, The Life Of A Slipware Potter.

Join potter Doug Fitch and his wife Hannah for a talk about their lives as slipware potters, followed by a hands-on session where you can try out slip trailing yourself.

2pm to 3.30pm,Texture and carving workshop.

Learn about hand building with artist Wendy Lawrence. Take the opportunity to get hands on yourself and create a piece of carved, textured clay to take home with you.

In the CoCA 2 gallery:

11.30am to 12.30pm, Children Curate in conversation with Anthony Shaw and artist Susan Halls.

Meet the collector and the artist who helped inspire the children who curated the current Anthony Shaw Collection display.

2.30pm to 3.30pm, Alison Britton in conversation with Anthony Shaw.

Alison Britton will be talking with Anthony Shaw about the practice and work of Gillian Lowndes in CoCA’s new exhibition, Gillian Lowndes: At the Edge.

Burton Gallery: 

2pm to 3pm, Book Reading: The Ups And Downs In The Life Of The Fabulous Bernard Palissy.

Join Jane Hamlyn for a reading of a quaint little book about the 16th century French Huguenot potter Bernard Palissy and his desperate struggles to discover the lost secrets of Italian tin-glazed earthenware.

3pm to 4pm, Film Showing.

Watch a screening of Potshots, starring Johnny Vegas as Bernard Palissy. Produced by Roger Law and Anya Course. Running time: 25minutes. Jane will be available to answer any questions.

Both Saturday, November 23 and Sunday, November 24

Installation: Recycling the Tower of Pots.

The tower of pots was created by artist Lou Gilbert Scott and visitors during the 2018 Day of Clay event. Now you are invited to watch as it slowly dissolves, returning to soft malleable clay ready for re-use.

Hands on Here.

Get hands on with York Art Gallery’s historic and contemporary ceramic collection; sessions usually run between 11am and 1pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Children’s ceramic trail available at front desk all day.

Gillian Lowndes: At the Edge

November 23 to May 2020

See the ground-breaking works of Gillian Lowndes (1936-2010), the most radical ceramicist of the 20th century, in this major new exhibition.

From the 1970s onwards, artist Gillian Lowndes was at the forefront of a new style of contemporary ceramics which explored the materiality of clay.

Her abstract expressionist way of working brought together a range of materials and found objects that she recycled to create new sculptural work she called collages. This exhibition showcases more than 40 artworks drawn from CoCA’s collection, alongside loans from Anthony Shaw’s collection, many on public display for the first time.

Accompanying the exhibition will be further displays featuring new acquisitions by artists including Kate Malone, Emmanuel Cooper and David Seeger.

York Art Gallery opening times:

Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.

Last admission: 4.30pm.

Closed: December 25 and 26 and January 1.

Elena’s window to a magical childhood winter goes on show at Owl & Monkey

A detail from Elena Skoreykp Wagner’s new winter window installation at Owl & Monkey, York

OWL & Monkey, the homeware and lifestyle store in Heslington Road, York, is unveiling its annual artist’s window installation for the festive season today.

The festivities will launch from today until Sunday as York illustrator Elena Skoreyko Wagner becomes the third artist chosen to celebrate the wonder and magic of a childhood winter.

As well as revealing Elena’s papercut installation, Helen and Matt Harris’s shop will be hosting events to herald the season, including fountain pen-making and a Letters To Santa opportunity, plus the chance to meet Elena and watch her papercutting in action on Sunday.

“Come down on Sunday between12 noon and 4 pm and ask Elena to create a mini paper version of you, your friends or family to take away on the day,” suggests Helen. “You can watch Elena make her cut-and-create decorations to purchase for £10. So, come prepared with some photos for your desired creation.” 

“The theme of a childhood Christmas really appealed to me, capturing that wonder and magic,” says Elena. Picture: Alice Lodge

As the installation goes on show, Helen says: “We’re excited to be hosting Elena’s beautiful creations and are delighted to welcome her installation and work to the shop.

“It exudes a sense of joy and hopefulness, celebrating the everyday elements of life through her collages, illustrations and zines. So, when we discovered her creations, we knew they were just what we were seeking.”

Matt adds: ‘We love the joyful nature of Elena’s work and how it captures the magic of the everyday. It matches so well with what we hope the shop offers; a happy place to celebrate the everyday.”

Canadian-born Illustrator Elena, who gained a BFA in studio art from York University in Toronto in 2006, specialises in colourful hand-cut paper collages, pieced together from paper snippets, along with zines. Her work is often narrative, depicting women and children, to touch gently on health and social issues, find magic and uncover meaning in the mundane.

Elena Skoreyko Wagner at work on a papercut. Picture: Kayti Pechke

“The theme of a childhood Christmas really appealed to me, capturing that wonder and magic,” she says of her new installation. “I have also been working with some local designers and makers to bring my designs to some exciting new products, so I’m really looking forward to bringing them to Owl & Monkey.”

An added element of the window from today is the re-use of vintage Japanese papers found by the Owl and Monkey duo. “A lot of my work uses up-cycled papers, so when Helen and Matt gave me some old, damaged Japanese papers, I was super-excited to see how they could gain a new story as part of the window,” says Elena. “Watch out for them in the very many garlands I’ve been busy sewing together these past few weeks.”

The Owl & Monkey homeware and lifestyle range “celebrates the simple pleasures of home and life with a carefully chosen selection of sustainably and ethically sourced goods to enhance the everyday”.

Helen and Matt Harris’s Owl & Monkey store in Heslington Road, York

“From studio pottery to an ever-growing range of stationery, all the products are selected with good ethics, function and joy in mind,” says Helen.

“We also focus on the power of sharing the skills and passions of the people behind the goods, so an important part of our ethos is collaboration with local designers, makers and artists.”

You can discover more about Elena’s work at, on Instagram, @elenaskoreyko, and Facebook, @elenastreehouse.

Owl & Monkey, 16a Heslington Road, York, is open Wednesdays, 11am to 5pm; Thursdays and Fridays, 11am to 6pm; Saturdays 10am to 5.30pm, plus Sundays, 12 noon to 4pm, November 17 to December 22, and Tuesdays, 11am to 5pm, November 19 to December 17.

Charles Hutchinson

Top of the pots as 40 exhibit at York Ceramics Fair

York Ceramics Fair exhibitor Doug Fitch, using a sponge as he makes a pot in his studio. Picture: Kim Ayres

YORK Ceramics Fair is returning for a second year as a “top of the pots” gathering of British ceramicists in The Hospitium on November 23 and 24.

Running alongside will be the newly expanded Days Of Clay, a ceramics discovery programme run by the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at nearby York Art Gallery

Forty potters from Britain and beyond have been chosen through competitive selection by the fair’s organisers, the Craft Potters Association, to showcase their hand-crafted pieces.

Yellow Wavy Cat, front, and Glorious Cat, back, by Jenny Southam

On display and for sale in the medieval Hospitium, in the Museum Gardens, will be hundreds of pots of all shapes and sizes work ranging from vibrant to serene, minimal to magical, sculptural to utilitarian.

Among those taking part are Jenny Southam, whoseeccentric figures explore her love of gardening, as well as her interest in both Staffordshire mantelpiece figures and Etruscan tomb sculptures. 

Dylan Bowen’s bold expressionistic ceramics capture the spontaneity and energy of how they are made. His work is sought by leading interior designers and his collaborations include the interior lighting specialist Porta Romana for their Bohème collection. 

One of Kerstin Gren’s exhibits at York Ceramics Fair

Lara Scobie’s ceramics balance composition and form with pattern and bright pops of colour; Shipton-by-Beningbrough ceramicist Ruth King, one of the event organisers, specialises in the salt glaze technique and a preoccupation with structure, containment and balance in her luminous pots.
RAMP Ceramics is a partnership between Alice Hartford and Rupert Johnstone, wherein he throws the pots and she decorates them and they share a liking for simple, clean forms.

Anna Lambert, from Crosshills, near Keighley, makes hand-built arthenware ceramics using such techniques as slab-building and painted slips. Her creative ideas reflect an interest in place, exploring narratives relating to farmland, floodwater management, woodlands and the regeneration of orchards. Inspired by new nature writing, she combines drawing with abstract qualities of pots, their spaces, edges and surfaces.

RAMP Ceramics pieces by Alice Hartford and Rupert Johnstone

Over the same weekend, York Art Gallery’s annual Days Of Clay offers the chance to “get your hands dirty” at live demonstrations by makers on the Saturday and to enjoy a series of talks, conversations and demos on the Sunday, showing how raw clay can be pinched, carved, rolled, thrown and transformed through this ancient craft.

Animal sculptor Susan Hall and potters Milena Dragic and Mila Romans are taking part; esteemed ceramicist Alison Britten gives the annual CoCA lecture; David Horbury discusses the memoirs of studio potter and arts and crafts writer Emmanuel Cooper, and the event coincides with the launch of a new exhibition by “the most radical ceramicist of the 20th century”, Gillian Lowndes: At The Edge.

York Ceramics Fair, The Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York, November 23 and 24, 10am to 5pm; entry £5, under 16s, free. For more details, visit

Days Of Clay, York Art Gallery, November 23 and 24. Visit for details and tickets.

Katie Braida at work in her studio

The 40 potters taking part in York Ceramics Fair 2019 are:

Justine Allison; Matthew Blakely;Dylan Bowen; Daniel Boyle; Katie Braida; Ben Brierley; Karen Bunting; Rebecca Callis; Isabel Denyer; Antje Ernestus; Doug Fitch; Hannah McAndrew; David Frith; Kerstin Gren; James Hake; Richard Heeley; RAMP Ceramics; Ruth King; Anna Lambert; Tony Laverick; Wendy Lawrence; Sophie MacCarthy; Sean Miller; Jenny Morten; Stephen Murfitt; Jeremy Nichols; Adela Powell; Michaela Schoop; Lara Scobie; Jill Shaddock; Patricia Shone; Jenny Southam; Ilona Sulikova; Tricia Thom; Keith Varney; John Wheeldon; Emily-Kriste Wilcox; Deiniol Williams; David Wright; Paul Young.